The Lily Cafe is thrilled for the opportunity to participate in the book blog tour for The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan! This is the third in the Quinn & Costa Thriller series.
Title: The Wrong Victim (A Quinn & Costa Thriller #3)
Author: Allison Brennan
Publication date: April 26, 2022
A bomb explodes on a sunset charter cruise out of Friday Harbor at the height of tourist season and kills everyone on board. Now this fishing and boating community is in shock and asking who would commit such a heinous crime—the largest act of mass murder in the history of the San Juan Islands.
Was the explosion an act of domestic terrorism, or was one of the dead the primary target? That is the first question Special Agent Matt Costa, Detective Kara Quinn, and the rest of the FBI team need to answer, but they have few clues and no witnesses.
Accused of putting profits before people after leaking fuel endangered an environmentally sensitive preserve, the West End Charter company may itself have been the target. As Matt and his team get closer to answers, they find one of their own caught in the crosshairs of a determined killer.
The Wrong Victim is the third in the Quinn and Costa Thriller series. This one takes the team to the San Juan Islands archipelago in Washington. They’re there to investigate a charter boat bombing that killed a retired FBI agent, who was still looking into a cold case that haunted him, as well as a very wealthy man who was married to a much younger woman his kids generally hated. It was fantastic to see the team really come together, and equally fun to watch the tension between Kara and Catherine as the two are forced to work closely for the first time. The mystery was twisty, but the title felt a little unfortunate as it pointed me to what was really going on too early in the story as I enjoy being the last one to figure things out, so it was definitely a minus to me. But The Wrong Victim is probably my favorite of the series so far, and I’m really starting to get to know and enjoy the team.
A charter boat bombing that killed nine including retired FBI agent Neil Devereaux and a very wealthy man married to a younger woman draws FBI agent Mathias Costa and his Mobile Response Team to the San Juan Islands in Washington. Linking up with the local law enforcement, Matt, Kara Quinn, and the rest of the team follow every lead, investigate every possible motive, and puzzle through the closed cases Neil had been re-investigating. But, the further they dig, the more bodies they find and the more complicated the case gets.
I don’t know whether the series, the author, or I have hit our stride, but, after feeling kind of meh about the first two books, I really, really enjoyed this one. In this third book of the series, the team is starting to gel together, but some serious friction is introduced that really had me interested and invested. The case itself was more interesting to me than the previous two, but this one almost felt too easy to me. Still, I really enjoyed reading this one and, for once, am looking forward to the next one.
My favorite part of The Wrong Victim was the team. Matt is the dependable leader, except he’s torn between the woman he’s involved with and his closest friend. Kara doesn’t really feel like she belongs even though the team relies on her as an experienced undercover cop, and she’s involved with Matt and they’re trying to keep it under wraps. But, being on loan to the FBI from the LAPD indefinitely would do that to her. Ryder Kim may be young, but he’s capable and can dig out just about anything the team needs. Jim is their older, experienced medical expert who appears to be grandfatherly, but will do his job perfectly to a T. Michael Harris is unflappable as a former Navy Seal, solid and tough and completely upright. Catherine is the behavior analyst who knows Matt better than anyone and is used to being the smartest person in the room. It’s only inevitable that, as the team gels, friction develops between Kara and Catherine. I loved every moment of it, seeing both points of view and both wanting them to work it out and just not work it out to draw out the fun tension. The development of their relationship was really wonderful, and I loved how the team evolved as a whole, coming to rely on each other while also being able to just hang out together. The care and concern they showed for each other was wonderful, and I loved that they each had important jobs so none of them was ever left out.
One of the things I really enjoy about this series, the one thing that has me coming back to it, is the romance brewing between Matt and Kara. It’s not perfect and the way it works is complicated, but that underlying tension is fun. The Wrong Victim did bring up some things that had always been more on the fringes, but now I really want to find out what happens next. Matt and Kara are both so stubborn and they both have a good idea of what they want and don’t want. I look forward to seeing how it ultimately plays out.
The one thing that really let me down was the return to Washington. It’s a completely different location than in the first book, but I was disappointed that, after Arizona, they were back to Washington. There are so many small towns and rural locations in the country that it was a little hard for me to get over. Still, I really liked the San Juan Islands. The small town politics and the environmental concerns were at play and did add a fun layer, but I really wanted to go somewhere else. On the other hand, exploring the San Juan Island was really nice and I felt like I was wandering around there with the characters. I liked the Island Protectors environmental group that just kept popping up, though I was disappointed with the way that story progressed. It did add some nice depth to the location, and the Fish & Brew sounded like a really fun place to eat and hang out.
The case the team was investigating felt both more straight forward than the first two, but also complicated and layered at the same time. There was no point of their investigation where I felt bored, though I was disappointed when characters started dropping out of the story. I think, with some careful attention, just watching who stayed in the narrative and who didn’t helped revealed whodunit and how different cases wound together. I also felt the title of the book was a little unfortunate as it led me down the right path too early on. I enjoy being the last one to figure it out, so wasn’t thrilled that I did start to figure it out before the team did. Some of the hints just felt a little too clunky and too liberally sprinkled in. But I liked how they played out, liked how the psyches of the characters played into it. It was great to see Catherine and Kara in action as they’re both involved in reading people. The end was a bit shocking to me, but in a thrilling way, though I did feel like it took quite a while to fully unravel. About three-quarters of the way through I was starting to get impatient for it to just wrap up.
I must say the beginning was off to a rough start for me. The writing just didn’t flow well and the blocks of informative text about the team and their history just felt clunky and amateurish. It just didn’t flow well, so it was difficult for me to get into the story. But, once the background was established, it flowed much better and became easier to read and easier to become invested in the story. Unlike the previous two books, which felt a bit clunky and cumbersome, I only felt that way during the first few chapters, so, if the rest of the series is like this novel, I think I can live with it.
The Wrong Victim felt a little unfortunately titled, but I had a lot of fun reading it. Most of it was fun and fast-paced with twists and turns. There were a lot of things I wasn’t expecting, but I was a little disappointed things began to clear up around the halfway point. Still, there are a lot of good things peppered throughout and I did really enjoy how it ended and wrapped up. It was neat and fraught with questions at the same time. For me, this was definitely the best of the series so far, and I’m finally excited to see what’s next.
How many cups of tea will you need?
About Allison Brennan
ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.
Connect with Allison Brennan
Thank you to Justine Sha at MIRA for a review copy and the opportunity to take part in the book blog tour for The Wrong Victim. All opinions expressed are my own.