Pages

Monday, November 10, 2014

FATAL EXCHANGE by Lisa Harris


Sybil Bates McCormack reviews
Lisa Harris's Fatal Exchange, an engrossing inspirational romantic suspense novel set in modern day Atlanta, opens with undercover police officer Mason Taylor in the throes of guilt and revealing an innate flaw. He has just prioritized a life-or-death situation connected with work over a similarly urgent crisis developing in Denver connected with family. The conflicted cop then proceeds to absolve himself of any wrongdoing by observing that seventeen is too young to die.

Gifted Hispanic high school student Rafael Cerda—whose younger brother has been kidnapped at knife point by a powerful drug cartel—has solicited Mason’s help. The kidnappers have demanded a sizeable ransom for the brother’s release, and Rafael (for whom Mason has been a “Big Brother” mentor) has nowhere else to turn.

When Mason’s early investigation into the crime prompts a visit to the swanky private high school that the witness attends on scholarship, he encounters a former crush. Emily Hunt, Rafael’s history teacher, is also the daughter of Mason’s former boss and the sister of his deceased partner—a partner that some are convinced he betrayed. Despite the obstacles that stand between them, Mason is drawn to Emily—to her beauty, to her intellect and to the compassion and concern she demonstrates when he shares Rafael’s plight.

Emily Hunt is striving to rebuild her life—a life marred in recent months by both a broken engagement and her brother’s untimely death. When Mason Taylor appears unexpectedly at Dogwood Academy to share the disturbing news about Rafael’s family, Emily’s struck by the sincerity in his countenance and his words. She’s impressed that he has become a man of faith. She recalls how deeply her brother trusted Mason—how capably and skillfully he’s always performed in his position. In short, Emily finds it difficult to reconcile what she knows of the officer with her sister’s claims that he is somehow culpable in their brother’s death. But is she right? Can Mason Taylor truly be trusted? Is he all that he seems?

Fatal Exchange, the second in author Lisa Harris’s Southern Crimes Series (see Dangerous Passage – Book 1 and Hidden Agenda – Book 3 pending release in January 2015) is nothing short of riveting. Ms. Harris introduces one of the most unexpected plot twists I’ve ever encountered at a very early point in the book and then builds upon—and expands upon it—so skillfully that I found myself stopping periodically to grin and gasp in awe at her ability to craft a story. I will refrain from discussing more on any specific elements of plot for fear that I’ll give away something that would spoil the book for other readers.

It may sound clich√©, but the author literally hooks the reader into Mason and Emily’s story from the very first paragraph and never releases her again until the very end. The “reveals” at each major plot point in the book are logical yet unpredictable. Ms. Harris laces backstory and the intermittent red herring into the narrative in an artful, sparing manner. She shares everything the reader needs to know to “connect the dots,” but makes it a thrilling challenge—all the while creating a daring, breathless gallop toward the book’s sensational conclusion.

Lisa Harris draws layered, multi-dimensional portraits of the major characters in Fatal Exchange by way of balanced dialogue, nuanced narratives, and brief, compulsory allusions to setting. She demonstrates true mastery of characterization and dialogue when she sketches secondary, tertiary, and even fleeting characters in the novel. All prove easy to “hear” and visualize—despite the relentless pace of the book.

Final Words: Novelists are often thrilled to hear that they’ve kept a reader up all night. But, in this instance, the words “she kept me up and guessing all night” are more apt. I give Fatal Exchange my very highest recommendation!


A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes healthcare proposals during the day while lurching haltingly toward becoming an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, subscribe to her online paper, The InspyReader Gazette, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

11 comments:

  1. Great review and so agree with you! Loved Fatal Exchange and now I'm waiting for the next one in the series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Patricia! You're such a sweetheart to stop by. I sincerely appreciate the compliment and your taking time out to visit. I think Lisa Harris is a true artist, and you are certainly an author to be reckoned with, ma'am. I was a HUGE fan of "A Promise to Protect" and plan to backtrack to "Shadows of the Past." How's the release of the third book in the Logan Point Series coming along? Please don't make us wait much longer! :-)

      Delete
  2. Yes, like Patricia, I enjoyed this book, Sybil, and am looking forward to taking up where it left off with another Hunt sibling. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too, Sandra. Lisa throws a great curve ball to her readers with what's in store in Book 3. I can't wait to jump in. Thanks, as always, for chiming in!

      Delete
  3. Wow, you completely made my day, Sybil,with your review and Patricia and Sandra with your sweet words as well! I loved writing this series so much, and it makes me thrilled to read your reaction! Book three is coming soon. Even I'm excited! :-) Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Lisa. I'm so glad you stopped by. I am definitely excited about your upcoming release in January 2015. I rarely read 300+ page books in one sitting--2-3 sittings is more the norm for me--but that's what happened this time around. I truly escaped into Mason and Emily's world. (And the fact that I happen to live in the Greater Atlanta area is pure coincidental. LOL!) But seriously, folks. This is a must read. If this series is not on you TBR list, drop everything and put it there! Blessings, Lisa!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Well, I'm sure your characters become increasingly real to you over time. If they start to materialize into living, breathing sentient beings, though, please be sure to warn the rest of us--especially the villains. :-)

      Delete
  5. Thank you, Sybil! That was my goal, to keep you turning those pages. And I saw that you lived in Atlanta as well. So cool! You'll laugh, but I was in the airport a while back in Atlanta and kept expecting to run into someone from the Hunt family! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great review, Sybil! I'm late to the party over here, but I completely agree with you about this story. It was riveting! I loved it and cannot wait to read the third book! I now need to go back and read the first, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. From your review I will want to read this book. Lisa is a new author to me and your description of her writing leads me to believe I will like her style and books. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts! Your comment will show up soon!