RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Twisted by Laura Griffin


Title: Twisted
Author: Laura Griffin
Publication Info: Pocket 2012
ISBN: 9781451617436
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book Twisted This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Fran. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Romantic Suspense category.

The summary:     

Motive, opportunity, and no alibi – it seems close to a slam-dunk. But while rookie detective Allison Doyle’s department has ID’d a suspect in a young woman’s vicious murder, she is uneasy.

Then legendary FBI profiler Mark Wolfe shows up with a startling theory: if he’s right, the real murderer is an elusive psychopath just days away from another kill. Using Allison’s contacts at the Delphi Center crime lab, Wolfe is finally in striking distance of the monster he’s pursued for ten years.

Except that as they work together, Wolfe finds the ambitious, stubborn woman a tempting distraction.

And with this brutal predator, every thread of evidence can make the difference between being the hunter…and the prey.

And here is Fran's review:

Laura Griffin’s Twisted is a good read, if slightly unremarkable.  The investigation ended up being the main draw, and consequently the romance felt rather secondary.  The author’s strength definitely lies in crafting the world of her “tracers”.  Although there were patches of information being thrust at the reader, the explanations didn’t feel forced or annoying—the procedures and techniques were very interesting.  I don’t know much about law enforcement, psychology, or forensic science, but the book definitely felt accurate and well-researched.  I thought the plot was sufficiently “twisted” (heh) to keep me interested.  

Moving on to the romance between Mark and Allison, Griffin definitely laid the foundation for their connection—there were plenty of the requisite lines where they internally muse about their growing attraction to one another.  But the kicker is the huge age difference.  He’s 43, she’s 27.  Originally I felt this could work, I thought they had a chance.  But they never fully discuss this issue or seem to get over it.  They both think about it, other people notice it, and the hero makes passing remarks about it to throw up barriers.  I started questioning the nature of a relationship with that huge an age difference, having never experienced one myself.  Is it something that can be gotten over?  Or is it something that can only be lived with, acknowledged? 

I don’t know, and I didn’t really get an answer.  But while I’m sure the gap doesn’t seem to bother Allison, I can’t say the same for Mark by the end of the novel.  From their first meeting there’s something in practically every conversation about how she seems young or how he feels old around her.  I started highlighting every mention of their age gap in my kindle copy; I just couldn’t believe how repetitive it felt.  Seriously, take a shot every time Mark feels dismayed that he’s a more attractive Oliver Sarkozy to Allison’s Mary-Kate Olsen.  I guarantee you’ll be three sheets to the wind by the end.  Some choice samples from their inner turmoil:

Mark sighed. Twenty-three years old. Young enough to be his own daughter, if he’d ever had one. Just four years younger than Allison Doyle. (pg. 141)

ICK.  And this one made me squirm uncomfortably:

Christ, no wonder she had a cop complex. He’d sensed it from the beginning. But she had a daddy complex, too, which was much worse. Some selfish middle-aged asshole was going to come along and take advantage of her someday. But it wasn’t going to be him. (pg. 149)

And this one when she propositions him (seriously even when she propositions him):

She eased back. “Can’t. You mean you can’t because you’ve got some kind of problem or—”

“You know damn well what I mean.” He gave her a sharp look, and she felt a little shot of triumph. She’d touched a nerve. 

“Come on.” He slid back his chair and stood up. “I’ll run you home.”

She looked up at him and almost laughed because it sounded like something you’d say to a babysitter. But then the urge to laugh vanished as he stared down at her, utterly serious.(pg. 165)


Inside the room, Allison sat in a chair, staring down at her notebook and clutching a pencil. She looked like a college kid about to take a final exam.(pg. 205)

Mark’s initial discomfort with the age gap was expected at the beginning, but midway through I was tired of the slightly skeevy references.  Still, I don’t know if I totally blame him for being uncomfortable.  Allison is almost kickass, and I admire her, but she makes a lot of poor choices.  She fumbles on the job a few times and while that might be expected of a rookie detective her supposed maturity suffered a blow.  Granted, Mark is exceptionally (and I mean EXCEPTIONALLY) focused, so that striking contrast could highlight her mistakes more.   Of course, her favorite aspect of his personality is his intensity.  

The most gratifying scene occurs when all that intensity gets channeled into a shout about Allison’s safely when visiting a prisoner.  

“I don’t want to watch him look at you!” he boomed, and she jerked back. “I don’t want him seeing you! Thinking about you! I don’t want him goddamn smelling you, all right? He’s a piece of shit and you don’t belong in the same room with him!” (pg. 207)

That’s her job, of course, interacting with the bad guy.  I’m sure fellow readers have shared in my sense of relief that Mark can express something other than guilt and desire by this point.  And that’s what worried me.    

I can’t say I’m completely convinced their relationship is going to last, even with the very romantic last few pages.  At first I wanted to “AWWWWW” at the top of my lungs, but when I went back to re-read it occurred to me those pages at the end aren’t truly convincing.   And I expect to be sure of a couple’s lasting happiness by the end of a romance novel.          

Finally, I have two notes on children.  If you like the ambiguity of whether or not a couple will have children, that’s here.  They don’t even discuss it.  He muses on why he didn’t have kids with his ex-wife, but obviously that doesn’t necessarily transfer to their new relationship.  Point two, there’s a suspense subplot involving child abuse—nothing described graphically, but the reader knows exactly what’s going on—and it doesn’t end totally happy, so some of you might take issue.  It’s not a major part of the book by any means, but be warned. 

If you prefer your romance on the backburner with a hint of ambiguity, I’d say take this fellow for a roll in the hay.  While I liked the suspense plot and found the investigative elements intriguing, the romance underwhelmed me.  Overall, I’d give the book a B.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

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