cover image Deadly Encounter

Deadly Encounter

DiAnn Mills. Tyndale, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-4964-1097-9

Inspirational romantic suspense novelist Mills (Deadlock) opens the first installment of her new FBI Task Force series posthaste. Veterinarian Stacy Broussard, a volunteer ranger making a circuit on horseback around the Houston airport, finds a dead body, a drone, and an injured dog. FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc is one of two investigators on the case as well as a potential love interest for Stacy, and just like that, Mills has constructed a complicated plot. Giving the story additional emotional heft and quirkiness is Whitt McMann, a 12-year-old neighbor of Stacy's who is highly precocious and neglected by his parents; Stacy hopes to adopt him. Mills keeps a lot of plates nicely in the air, including bioterrorism, human drama, and concern for animals. A couple of attempts to add complexity to the full story don't work, and a tragic backstory involving Stacy's parents is underdeveloped and unconvincing. Though Mills does wait a long time to uncover the evil engine driving the plot, fans of clean romantic suspense will enjoy this well-plotted winner. Agency: Janet Kobobel Grant, Books & Such Literary. (Aug.)