Book Review: Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon (Triple Threat #2)

Labyrinth of Lies

About the Book-

When the daughter of a high-profile businessman disappears from an exclusive girls’ boarding school, police detective Cate Reilly is tapped for an undercover assignment. It doesn’t take her long to realize that beneath the veneer of polish and wealth, things are not as they seem at Ivy Hill Academy. But the biggest surprise of all? The only man she ever loved is also working at the school.

Zeke Sloan has never forgotten Cate, but now isn’t the best time for their paths to cross again. When their two seemingly disparate agendas begin to intertwine–and startling connections emerge among the players–the danger escalates significantly. But who is the mastermind behind the elaborate ruse? And how far will they go to protect their house of cards?

Queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon invites you to scale the heights of human folly and plumb the depths of the human heart in this second gripping book in the Triple Threat series.

My Review-

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This is the third book I’ve read by Irene Hannon, and to be honest, I don’t really know about her books, or maybe just this series. While the suspense is well done and gripping, the rest of the book wasn’t good enough for me to fully enjoy it, and overall the story line is weak and the characters lack depth.

Like other Hannon books I’ve read, this book was extremely focused on appearance and looks: from the first time the characters meet, there is a lot of thinking about how attractive the other person is, a lot of “she fills out those jeans well” “he left the top button of his shirt unbuttoned” energy, and overall just a LOT of attention focused on the physical aspects of the two main love interests. Both of them are stereotypical attractive people doing well for themselves, but ~somehow~ single. They had had a relationship in the past (which is heavily alluded to, including when they [spoiler, highlight to read] lost their virginities to each other, which isn’t explicitly said but heavily implied, but only for Cate?? like Zeke also participated but it was phrased as “something she gave to him” as if they didn’t mutually agree which was bizarre but anyways). As I’ve made clear from my other Christian fiction reviews, it’s a particular pet peeve of mine when two characters are drawn to each other because of their physical attributes: it’s extremely shallow, and does not bode well for their relationship, and this was extremely prevalent in this book.

Another thing I didn’t really understand/like about this book/romance was the reason for Cate and Zeke’s original breakup? They had great chemistry and seemed to have not broken up over a *huge* fight, and it just seemed like overall they broke up 8 years ago over a miscommunication, then their romance reignited immediately once they saw each other again. It was also bizarre to me how [slight spoiler, highlight to read] Cate didn’t have ANY idea Zeke was about to propose 8 years ago?? like did they not,,,talk about getting married AT ALL orrrrrr and also with that WHY did they have sex with each other if they didn’t intend on getting married. Like you don’t just *accidentally* have sex, it’s something that you can control????? All in all, the relationship just didn’t seem healthy in this book.

The other thing I really wasn’t a huge fan of in this book was the extraordinary profiling that was being done. The “crime” in this case focused on drug dealing and “the cartel,” which was fine in and of itself, but there was significant talk about illegal immigrants and the Spanish-speaking character was part of the drug business. It wasn’t outright racist, but there were definitely some . . . *implications* about people from Mexico specifically (regardless of their immigration status), which really does not sit well with me.

There was also a black character in the book, who turned out to be fairly major to the plot. However, the way she was pulled into the storyline was because Cate wanted a “diverse roommate to broaden her exposure to other demographics and enhance her ethnic sensitivity,” which, 🤢. Granted, it was said semi-ironically, but STILL.

Also related to the drug thing, this book treated alcohol as something bad, but not something absolutely horrible: like the protagonists didn’t drink, but the antagonists would drink beer. It definitely had negative connotations, but wasn’t actively villainized. However, they treated marijuana at the same level as heroin and meth, which was so bizarre to me: if anything, marijuana is closer to alcohol than hard drugs, but they were acting like it was something so absolutely awful. The only real distinction was that the white people were interacting with the marijuana and the Hispanic people were interacting with the heroin, which has,,,Implications to be sure.

Lastly, the antagonist in this book was so built up, and the plot reached such a peak, but the motivation of the antagonist was really unknown? It was surprising and memorable to be sure, but the internal motivation of the antagonist was simply “[they] were not okay in the head. How does someone get to this point” without any more justification on their actions, which was really poorly executed, in my opinion. Some of the story was told from their point of view, but it was very much action based and didn’t justify the reason they were done, which did not justify the way the antagonist was thinking.

Overall, I did really like the buildup of the story: the suspense was really well done and the romance wasn’t all too unbelievable. However, with the other content and other stuff factored in, I would not recommend this book.

My Rating-

4/5 for the storyline, 2/5 for the content: 3/5 altogether

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.


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