Tuesday, April 1, 2008

North of Montana by April Smith

I read this one for the A to Z Challenge. It seems to be the first in a newer series by a female writer about the FBI. I read about the latest one and decided to start from the beginning.

It is the story of Ana Grey, an FBI agent who reminds me a bit of Kinsey Milhone. She's an up and coming, young agent who makes a spectacular arrest during a bank robbery at the start of the book. Afterwards, she is given a high profile case concerning allegations that a renowned doctor supplied drugs for an aging Hollywood star, causing her addiction and subsequent treatment at the Betty Ford Center. Ana's personal life is also explored in her relationship with her Grandfather and the discovery of a long lost cousin, who has been murdered, and her two young children.

STRENGTHS OF NORTH OF MONTANA: I really enjoyed the main character. She is strong yet flawed and not too goody-goody which makes her interesting. Smith gave the character a rich, tragic yet still unresolved back story which added to the book for me. I found it to be an easy read, and I got really hooked on the plot. Smith was also very good at weaving the various plot lines together so that things in Ana's back story did contribute to the main story. Smith's portrayal of the aging star was quite amusing. Maybe it's living in California, but you tend to see people who really do fit the stereotypes that Smith used in the story. I also liked the fact that Smith did resolve the plot but left enough going on in Ana's life that she would be interesting to read about in another novel.

WEAKNESSES OF NORTH OF MONTANA: I found Ana to be a bit too "loose" for my taste. The way she feel into bed with coworkers bothered me and took away from the strength of the character. That's part of the reason that I have a mixed reaction to the ending. I truly liked the symbolism and spirituality that Smith used in the last chapter, but I didn't appreciate that Ana needed a man there to make it all better. If you've read the book, you probably know what I'm talking about. I really don't want to give it away because it is a major plot point.

Overall, I'd give the book 4 stars. It was a fun read, and I do plan on picking up other books in the series. My rating may be a bit high because I have a weakness for these types of books - female characters and authors in law enforcement type work. This book did remind me a bit of the early Jan Burke novels. If you've read this one, or another in the series, I'd love to hear your opinion.

1 comment:

Trish said...

Sounds fun--would you classify it as a comedy, mystery/suspense, etc...?