After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart has the evidence she needs. But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby begins to doubt her future as a police officer. As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents’ lives come back to haunt her. “There is proof.” PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective. A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?
Burning Proof provides indisputable evidence that a police procedural can be both authentic and clean, with a multi-layered mystery that should satisfy Christian readers without compromising their standards or offending their sensibilities.
Janice Cantore, a retired Long Beach (Calif.) police officer, has created a strong female lead in Detective Abby Hart, haunted by the 27-year-old murder of her parents – a mystery that provides the backstory for the Cold Case Justice series and that connects Drawing Fire, the first book in the series, to Burning Proof and leads into the third, Catching Heat, scheduled for release this fall.
The second story opens with Hart confronting a vengeful father as she and her partner arrest a suspect in the rape and murder of his 10-year-old daughter. The father opens fire, and so does Hart, and the tragic result shatters her serenity. This sets the scene for a spiritual crisis, and faith under fire is one of the themes Cantore addresses in this story – Abby’s as well as that of another victim, a young woman who was abducted and raped as a teenager and whose assailant has never been caught. Cantore writes with authority, both as a cop and as a Christian.
Burning Proof was my first encounter with Cantore and her characters. I had a little trouble at first in keeping track of all the characters, though I suspect that will not pose a problem for those who read Drawing Fire first. (I’m going to go back and read it as soon as I can.) Cantore depicts four kinds of characters – good guys who are Christians, good guys who are not, cops who have been corrupted, and villains who embrace evil – and all four are complex characters, not caricatures.
The story ends without a resolution to the murder of Abby’s parents, but the storyline is advanced considerably and it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. Readers should be satisfied with this story . . . yet want to read the next.
A hint of romance also extends from the first book in the series through Burning Proof and reaching into the future. Abby is engaged to Ethan, a missionary who hopes Abby will give up the quest for justice and follow him to foreign fields. But she’s also attracted to Luke, a private investigator whose uncle was killed with Abby’s parents. Luke is likewise attracted to Abby, but her engagement to Ethan is a boundary he won’t cross. This storyline is slow to develop . . . and all the more authentic for that! Nobody is rushing into anything. If you’re hoping for a quick, happily-ever-after, you may be disappointed. But, if you are yearning for a real romance where men and women take the time to separate style from substance and build a solid relationship, then you should be satisfied to let this one take its time.
One final note: This is Christian fiction. If you don’t care for Christian fiction, you won’t care for this book. I didn’t find the Christian themes to be moralistic or preachy, but I don’t think it will appeal to non-Christian readers. The characters who are Christians read their Bibles and they pray, both silently on their own and together with other Christian characters.
Sis received a complimentary advanced reading copy from Tyndale House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a review reflecting her own opinion. Anything else would be a sin.
About the author: A retired Long Beach California police officer of 22 years (16 in uniform and 6 as a non-career officer), Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, patrol, administration, juvenile investigations and training. During the course of her career in uniform Janice found that faith was indispensable to every aspect of the job and published articles on faith at work, one for a quarterly newspaper called “Cop and Christ”, and another for the monthly magazine “Today’s Christian Woman”. With retirement Janice began to write longer pieces and several novels were born. Janice is excited and honored to now be a part of the Tyndale Publishing House family. Accused, the first installment in her new suspense offering, The Pacific Coast Justice Series, was released February 1, 2012 and kicked off a brand new chapter in her writing career. In addition to suspense and action, her books feature strong female leads. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep you engrossed and leave you inspired.
Drawing Fire: One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart. With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby’s best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she’s anxious to talk to him about a cold case that’s personal to her—one Luke is interested in as well. As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents’ lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?
Catching Heat: Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart’s parents, she’s desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where the culprit grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire. Luke is eager to help Abby close the books on a case they both have personal stakes in. But as she uncovers long-held secrets, Abby stumbles into an explosive situation, and Luke fears that her obsession may prove deadly.