THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.
The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Securities, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.
As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.
Shadow Fall easily stands on its own despite being the ninth book in the Tracers series, giving us a new murder to solve and a new set of lead characters to guide us through it. Ms. Griffin truly excels at crafting a believable investigation full of individuals who know their job and do it well, neither weighing us down with too many complicated forensic details nor denying us information required to feel as though we're a part of things. We crack the spine of this thriller and find ourselves surrounded by the story, all our senses on full alert as we try and identify a brutally misogynistic killer.
Tara is an incredibly strong woman, forced to fight a battle on two fronts as she's assigned a new case, both that of a woman in a male-dominated field as well as that of a Federal Agent sent to assist a small town police force. As a result she has more than a few hard edges, but she never tries to one-up those around her in order to prove her competence, instead the only person she consistently strives to impress is herself. She's good at her job and makes smart decisions, never asking us to suspend disbelief as she goes running headlong into danger without so much as putting in a call for backup, and we can't help but root for her throughout.
While the murder mystery element is brilliantly executed, forcing us to bite our nails further into nubs with every chapter as our killer gains confidence, the romantic element between Tara and ex-military/current security specialist Liam isn't quite as strong. Because Tara's fighting the aforementioned battles, she does feel a need to assert her independence and show everyone (but most of all herself) that she's more than capable of handling whatever is thrown at her on her own, and therefore she never really lets Liam in. He in turn gets frustrated with her when his protective streak takes over, and they do a dance around one another for most of the book. It's not a huge source of frustration mind you, and any tension between them gets resolved quickly and with little drama, but it does make the declaration of love at the end feel a touch forced.
There's also a backstory with regard to the last case Tara was on just before she was assigned this new job, but we're only given tiny hints about it here and there when she has a nightmare or two, and it's hard not to wish for a little more information regarding the outcome (it's possible it was in a previous book though, this is the first of the series I've read and I'm not entirely sure how/if the books are loosely connected). Overall however, Shadow Fall is a lighting-fast read with an extremely well done murder investigation and an enjoyable romance even if it's not quite as emotionally engaging as we might have liked.