Friday, February 28, 2014


Officer Brinna Caruso used to believe in God… before she was abducted, molested and left for dead at the tender age of six.  It wasn’t God who finally found and rescued her, it was a cop from the K9 unit.  At that very moment Brinna knew what she would do with her life, and with her rescuer as her mentor, Brinna succeeds in becoming a K9 cop early in life.  Her penchant for finding missing children soon sees Brinna dubbed the Kid Crusader, but those who love her fear that Brinna has an unhealthy obsession with bringing sex offenders to justice.   

Detective Jack O’Reiley used to believe in God… until a drunk driver killed his pregnant wife, Vicky.  As Jack sees it God abandoned him, and he is returning the favour.  Jack stopped living the day his wife did; he is only existing until the day of the driver’s sentencing.  After that, Jack has no desire to live – whether or not he kills Gil Bridges too depends on whether or not the Court delivers maximum sentencing.  The detective with a solid reputation is long gone, replaced by a washed out deadbeat other officers think should leave the force and be done with it.  Jack thought he didn’t care about life anymore, but he finds these opinions of others sting more than he would have expected.

External matters outside of their control force Brinna and Jack to become temporary partners, whether they like it or not – and neither of them like it.  Their new partnership is off to a rocky start, each distrustful of the other.  The only thing they have in common is that neither believes in God; as Brinna puts it, there are no fairy-tales in their squad car. 

Jack and Brinna’s uncomfortable partnership eventually turns into a tentative friendship, and their collective musings also lead to both of them questioning their stance on God.  Maybe, just maybe, Jack and Brinna can help each other find the way…

While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner - Could his death wish get her killed instead?  It is only once a copy-cat paedophile starts taunting Brinna that Jack starts focusing on something other than his own bitterness.  His new partner’s drive and determination slowly brings Jack back to life and makes him want to be the cop he once was; the kind of man Vicky would be proud of. 

Brinna has never denied that she is obsessed with tracking and catching paedophiles, she just never figured her obsession is unhealthy.  It is only once Brinna’s personal and professional life starts crumbling around her that Brinna is forced to re-evaluate her life.  Could her new partner be the key to finally finding a healthy balance?

Critical pursuit by Janice Cantore follows Brinna Caruso and Jack O’Reiley as they join forces to hunt down a paedophile.  While dealing with the reality of missing girls and a paedophile on the loose, Jack and Brinna are also each faced with personal problems that threaten to crush them both.  Their current circumstances force them to finally start answering the questions each of them harbours about God.  Cantore touches on relevant topics as the questions Jack and Brinna struggle with are legitimate questions many people, believers and non-believers alike, struggle with:  Why do bad things happen to good people?  If God is Almighty, why does he allow innocents to suffer?  Cantore subtly encourages the reader to contemplate these questions as well.

Cantore’s villain is everything you would expect this kind of villain to be.  I found it very hard reading the short chapters from his POV.  It made me so uncomfortable to be exposed to his train of thought.  Whenever a book makes you uncomfortable, it presents you with an opportunity to learn more – about certain subjects, about certain viewpoints and about yourself.  It is so disturbing to think that men like him truly exist; but it is a fact of life, and Cantore incorporated this truth skilfully to add to the intensity of the story.

I found it very refreshing that there is no hint of romance in this book.  I half-expected Brinna and Jack to fall in love, but that did not happen – to my delight.  Jack is still very much grieving his wife’s passing, and a relationship between them would not have worked.  Instead of a budding romance, we find a budding partnership and friendship – which was even better. 

Visible Threat, sequel to Critical Pursuit, is set to be released in April 2014.  I am glad we’ll get to spend more time with Brinna and Jack as by the end of the novel, while there is definite growth, neither of them are where they have the potential to be.  While I like that there is no hint of a relationship between them during this book, I also like the idea that a relationship between Jack and Brinna might be possible in the future.  While neither of them are ready for a romantic relationship just yet, I think they are a good fit for each other and I look forward to exploring where their relationship could go.

Tyndale House Publishers has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, nor did this review lead to any personal gain other than the joy of being part of the Tyndale Blog Network. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Product Information:
Title: Critical Pursuit
Author: Janice Cantore
Pages: 362
Year: 2013
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN: 1414375530
ISBN13: 9781414375533

About the Author

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired.  Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories.  Visit Janice’s website at

1 comment:

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