“Faith in God would never insulate a person from the pain of living, but without faith there was no hope that the pain would count for something, that it wasn’t all for nothing.”
Janice Cantore brings her real-world law enforcement experience to the written page once again with her latest novel, “Lethal Target.”
After relocating from Long Beach, Calif., Tess O’Rourke is settling nicely into her new job as the Rogue’s Hollow, Oregon, chief of police. All that comes to a screeching halt, though, when 17-year-old Tim Harper is found dead in his bed … and Tess believes it could be drug related.
With the local (and legal) pot farm Hang Ten, and the seedy characters it employs, getting more and more aggressive, Tess must dive into what happened to Tim and determine if he was indeed murdered and if drugs were involved.
With help from Pastor Oliver Macpherson, who lost his wife and cousin to a drug dealer and murderer in Book 1, Tess must not only solve Tim’s mysterious death, but figure out what happened to several other men who go missing. And she must also decide whether she can stop being angry at God for taking her father on her 16th birthday and come to trust in Him again.
As always, Cantore fills her novels with tons of amazing and complex characters. Tess and Oliver are both very strong characters, but also both very flawed and relatable, trying to overcome their weaknesses as they start to develop feelings for each other. Characters like Don “The Hulk” Cherry and handyman Bryce Evergreen, both who work at Hang Ten, are riveting — are they good or are they bad?; Hector Connor-Ruiz, a pest from Tess’ past, drips with malice and is truly vexing; and most of the town’s police officers and officials are endearing and supportive of Tess.
But besides being an incredible police thriller with just a smidgen of romance, “Lethal Target” provides so many incredible lessons. With murders, frame-ups, kidnappings, drug use and a growing opioid epidemic, Cantore repeatedly reminds us the world is broken. But, she is quick to remind us that there is a hope of heaven and restoration, even in the deepest of losses.
Faith and trust are woven throughout the entire novel as major themes — reminding us that God is both in the good and the bad, even when we lose that faith. Cantore reminds us again and again that we can and need to have faith that God is in control of all outcomes.
Once again, Cantore’s own experience as a Long Beach police officer shines through with another excellently written novel. And event though this is the second novel in the series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. She does an excellent job catching the reader up with Book 1’s plot (I myself unfortunately missed Book 1 and had no problem understanding what was going on in “Lethal Target”).
I cannot wait for the conclusion of this series, unfortunately not due out until Summer 2019!
Five stars out of five.
Tyndale House Publishers provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
“Lethal Target” (Line of Duty series, #2) by Janice Cantore
Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her 22 years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. She has penned 10 romantic suspense novels: the Cold Case Justice series, the Pacific Coast Justice series, Critical Pursuit, and Visible Threat. Crisis Shot and Lethal Target are the first two books in the Line of Duty series.
1. As you were crafting the characters featured in Lethal Target, which one did you personally relate to the most? Which character surprised you the most?
Probably Tess, because of my law enforcement background. I tried to put myself in her shoes as I wrote certain scenes, thinking, how would it have felt if this happened to me? And her voice in my head is a combination of voices of friends and people who I worked with, so law enforcement scenes always send me back in time to when I was in uniform.
2. Lethal Target delves into some of the controversy related to the legalization of marijuana, as well as the negative effects drug use can have on a community. What inspired you to tackle these themes in your novel?
Simply watching what is going on around me. Oregon legalized pot about a year after I moved here, and I watched the transition. It was wild at first, but it has calmed down a bit. Still, there are squabbles here and there about what cannabis products can be sold, where, and when. It will never be completely settled as long as pot is still a federal crime.
3. How do you expect book two in The Line of Duty series, Lethal Target, to resonate with your audience?
They’ll see Tess begin to feel settled in her new home, and of course a big romantic question will be raised, and they will be along for the ride during some ups and downs emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
4. Why do you consider it important to share your experience as a former police officer through fiction writing?
I think it’s more important to share a Christian message, using my background and experiences to highlight struggles that can occur with faith when true adversity strikes. At times there is drama in police work: things happen that test us, leave us reeling, knock us down, leave us bloodied and bruised. How do you withstand it all without knowing that Christ has your back?
5. Which part of Lethal Target did you most enjoy writing?
I enjoy setting up the mystery, listening to the characters, and ramping up to a conclusion.
6. What was the most challenging scene to write?
The ending is always the hardest part for me to write. Getting the climatic end of the story right is very important. I know from my own reading that if the end disappoints, the whole book is disappointing.
7. What are you most excited for your readers to experience through reading this novel?
The community of Rogue’s Hollow, a small town sticking together, and the growth of Tess’s new relationship.
8. What role does faith play in the story?
A large part, because Oliver is a pastor, of course. But there is Tess’s own struggle with faith, her struggle with prayer and God’s answers to prayers, and the ultimate question: why do bad things happen to good people?
9. If you could choose one verse from the Bible as a theme for Lethal Target, which one would it be?
“This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NLT).
10. What are some future projects you’re working on?
Book three in this series is wrapping up, and I’m excited to tie up all the loose ends and get some resolution for Tess, and for Oliver.