A Guardians of Justice Mystery by Irene Hannon
Review: US Marshal Jake Taylor is assigned to protect Liz Michaels, a Federal judge, after an unknown assailant kills her sister, but the judge and her protector have an unsettled personal history that may complicate his assignment in Fatal Judgment, the first romantic suspense novel in the Guardians of Justice series by Irene Hannon.
Jake's best friend, Doug Michaels, now dead, was married to Liz. Doug drove his car into a tree, killing himself, and Jake blames Liz for literally driving him his death. He hasn't seen her since the funeral, but he knows that he needs to set aside any personal issues he may have with Liz to do his job. The authorities initially suspect that Liz's sister's ex-husband is the killer. They were estranged, and he had vowed to get back at her for divorcing him. But his solid alibi, and the fact that Liz and her sister have a similar appearance, suggest that possibly Liz might have been the target all along.
Fatal Judgment, a novel heavy on romance and relationships, yet exceptionally light on suspense, is fast-reading but not fast-paced. Indeed, the plot moves along at a pace that can best be described as leisurely, made more so by how predictable it is. Maybe comfortably expected is a better way to describe it. A lot of time is spent examining Liz's relationship with her dead husband, Jake's relationship with his dead wife, Jake's past and current relationship with Liz, Jake's relationship with his brother and sister, and so on. The suspense element is largely eliminated when the killer is introduced fairly early and given his own point-of-view. This is all standard fare for a novel of romantic suspense, and would be well and good … if it weren't so illogical. Ironically, Liz sums it up when she's taken hostage: "Why not [just kill her]? There were plenty of silent ways to eliminate someone. Why take the risk of spiriting her away to another location? It wasn't logical. And given the methodical way the man had thought this through, he wasn't some half-cocked nutcase. He had a reason for doing it this way." Yet that reason is never really made clear, the remaining chapters playing out in a surprisingly uneventful manner.
There actually is some appeal to Fatal Judgment, and readers familiar with the author or the genre will almost certainly be satisfied with the book. But there are likely to be some who will wonder why more thought wasn't put into crafting a more credible storyline.
Acknowledgment: Revell Books provided a copy of Fatal Judgment for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
In Harm's Way
Revell (Trade Paperback), April 2010
ISBN-13: 9780800733124; ISBN-10: 0800733126
Revell (Trade Paperback), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9780800734572; ISBN-10: 0800734572
Location(s) referenced in Fatal Judgment: St. Louis, Missouri
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Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon — A Guardians of Justice Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 2011
List Price: $14.99