Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
It's unfortunate for Traci Hunter Abramson that her work is grouped in the mystery category. This year, the other four books in the category are fairly traditional mysteries. Abramson's book, the third book in the Saint Squad series, is more of a thriller, where the Navy Seals (and their CIA buddies) are working to stop a terrorist threat before it happens. There's not much question who the baddies are, it's more of a question of how to stop them. Because of this, I wonder if Abramson's books would do better in the general category, especially in a year when all of the other mystery offerings are so different.
In Lockdown (book 2 in the series) I grew to like Riley and Tristan quite a bit. I felt like they both carried the action of the novel. In Crossfire, Riley is mentioned in the book, and Tristan is a minor character, and in a series where readers grow attached to certain characters, I'm not sure that dropping them in favor of other characters is a great move. Crossfire's main story is about Navy Seal Seth and undercover CIA agent Vanessa, high school and college sweethearts who are reunited six years later to work on the same mission. Sparks fly. So do helicopters.
I'm curious about the phenomenon in Mormon mysteries/thrillers to have the focus on relationships. In traditional mysteries, it seems that very few have the dual focus of the protagonist solving a mystery while falling in love. In the Whitney finalists, all five books have strong romantic elements. I don't have any great conclusions to draw from that, it's mostly just an observation.