Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Before It's Too Late by Sara Driscoll

Before It's Too Late
By Sara Driscoll
Published by Kensington Books (26 September 2017)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Publisher's description
In this powerful K-9 crime thriller, FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her trusted search-and-rescue Labrador, Hawk, must race against the clock before a diabolical killer strikes again
Somewhere in the Washington, D.C., area, a woman lies helpless in a box. Beneath the earth. Barely breathing. Buried alive. In Quantico, the FBI receives a coded message from the woman’s abductor. He wants to play a game with them: decipher the clues, find the grave, save the girl. The FBI’s top cryptanalysts crack the code and Special Agent Meg Jennings and her K-9 partner, Hawk, scramble to the scene of the crime. Cryptic clues lead them astray and by the time they solve the puzzle, it’s too late. But the killer’s game is far from over . . .
Soon another message arrives. Another victim is taken, and the deadly pattern is repeated—again and again. Each kidnapping triggers another desperate race against time, each with the possibility of another senseless death. That’s when Meg decides to try something drastic. Break the Bureau’s protocol. Bring in her brilliant sister, Cara, a genius at word games, to decipher the kidnapper’s twisted clues. Meg knows she’s risking her career to do it, but she’s determined not to let one more person die under her and Hawk’s watch. If the plan fails, it could bite them in the end. And if it leads to the killer, it could bury them forever . . .

My verdict
I loved Lone Wolf, Sara Driscoll's first FBI K9 crime thriller. I found that to be a fast-paced read and a great start to the series. I couldn't put Before It's Too Late down either.

This is an emotional book from the outset. A woman is buried alive somewhere in Washington, D.C. On receiving a coded message, Special Agent Meg Jenning and her dog Hawk have a race against the clock to find the victim, but unfortunately it's too late. Then another woman goes missing and another coded message arrives...

Before It's Too Late is a great lesson in pacing and plotting. It's well-researched too, though the references to American history did pass me by - I'm not great on British history, let alone US history - but that didn't detract from the plot at all. The book is filled with thrills, action and suspense, and I'm sure I barely took a breath for most of it.

This crime thriller has plenty of heart, featuring some great teamwork, not just between the human characters but also between the humans and their canine partners (especially Meg with Hawk, her Labrador). So pleased that helpful journalist McCord back is back - journalists are often depicted very negatively in crime fiction. Love the return of Todd, Meg's firefighter boyfriend, too.

You get to know a lot about Meg's family life and background - she even involves her sister Cara (a whizz at codes and puzzles), which puts Meg's career on the line. As she embarks on this cat-and-mouse chase, she realises this is personal - and her past is coming back to haunt her.

While I'm sure Before It's Too Late could be read as a standalone, I still think it's a good idea to read Lone Wolf first - partly because you'll be missing out on another good book if you don't. This is turning out to be a favourite series of mine - and I can't wait for the next book!

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