Book Review: ‘Taken In’ by Erica Abbott
Colfax police Captain Alex Ryan arrives home to find a thug barring her door and an unwelcome visitor inside their apartment with her wife, CJ St. Clair. The uninvited guest turns out to be CJ’s snobby, fractious mother, Lydia. She estranged CJ years before when CJ came out to her. Now, she’s shown up demanding her daughter come to the aid of the family using her skills as a police investigator to find the killer of her brother’s ex-wife. Otherwise, her brother, Clayton, may end up going to jail for the murder.
After some mental gymnastics, CJ finally decides to travel to her Savannah childhood haunts to prove who killed Amy St. Clair, leaving Alex in Colorado. While she’s away, Alex finds herself confronted with a mystery of her own and a decision she knows she can’t make without CJ.
While CJ slogs through her informal investigation, trying to clear her brother, she finds herself no closer to discovering who the killer is than we are, yet she’s determined to get to the bottom of it all. She also tries to get to know her niece—not an easy task with a teen who’s recently been through the trauma of her mother’s death.
Taken In is a story with an abundance of red herrings, all swimming upstream, while CJ stands with a dangerous current pounding at her back. She needs to snag the right fish, but if her timing is off, she could find herself in serious trouble. That little fish she’s after could turn out to be a shark.
At home, Alex is followed by a wraith and she has no idea who the woman is or why she’s doing it. It’s a simple matter to discover the identity of the woman, and what’s driving her quickly comes to light. However, once it does, Alex is confronted with old memories, old pain, and a moral dilemma.
More than a mystery, this story is also about relationships and choices. When Alex is forced to reveal what she knows about the stranger who’s been following her to family, she and her sister must choose how to go forward with their lives. Alex must determine if the promotion she’s encouraged to pursue is something she wants and, given the circumstances, that decision will have to be postponed until she can discuss it with her wife. Once CJ gets to the bottom of her investigation, she must resolve how she will deal with her mother and her long held rejection of her. Finally, CJ must decide what to do about her rebellious teenage niece, should her brother end up in prison.
CJ and Alex’s devotion to one another makes them easy to like. As they traverse the story trying to solve their own mysteries, information revealed through narration and their own inner dialogue help us determine who they are. The different pieces of the story are well integrated, interesting, and they move the tale along quickly to conclusion.
Characters like Lydia St. Clair push CJ to get to the bottom of the story, all the while acting as a thorn in her side, forcing CJ to confront long buried emotions concerning the woman. Her brother, Clayton, is both a player and a buffoon, contributing to his own problems and possibly his own downfall, begging the question: Is he the killer? Or is it someone else in the long string of suspects?
Abbott has skillfully portrayed the characters in this tale. A bit of a “cozy” with a little “thriller” thrown in for good measure, the story makes us feel as if we’re walking alongside CJ and Alex, discovering answers and experiencing how each revelation affects them. This story is an easy read—delightfully entertaining, jam-packed with baffling suspects and a surprising twist, all leading us to its satisfying end. A great read for the couch or the beach.