Sunday, August 20, 2023

Review: Collateral Damage by J.A. Jance

by J.A. Jance
Release Date: March 14, 2023
2023 Gallery Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1982189150
Audiobook: B09KYKPLKH
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

After spending twenty years behind bars, Frank Muñoz, a disgraced former cop, is out on parole and focused on just one thing: revenge. 

For Ali Reynolds, the first Christmas without her father is riddled with grief and uncertainty. But when Stu Ramey barges into her home with grave news about a serious—and suspicious—accident on the highway to Phoenix involving B.’s car, things reach a breaking point.

At the hospital, a groggy, post-op B. insists that Ali take his place at a ransomware conference in London, as troubles brimming around High Noon come to light. But questions remain: Who would go to such lengths to cut the tech company from the picture? And what if Ali and the rest of the team are also in danger?
My Thoughts
Collateral Damage continues the long-running series featuring Ali Reynolds, and honestly, I was not a huge fan of this book.  While there was definitely an interesting story line buried somewhere in there, it got lost within the excessive amount of character description given for each character and I grew very frustrated with the reliance on Frigg to solve every problem.  And the dialogue was supposed to be witty, but I found it excessively wordy and annoying.  
Let's start with the large number of characters, shall we? Because the story swings across decades and states, there are a number of people involved of which to keep track. This is not inherently a problem except the author went to considerable pains to give the reader background information on each one of them, trying to draw sympathy for people who may have not made good choices in their lives as adults and are now living in difficult circumstances.  There is only so much of this you can take before you start rolling your eyes, wondering what exactly is the purpose here.  Honestly, if that was her point, going overboard like that, and leading the reader on in this way, is not necessarily the best way to about it. Subtlety works a lot better, in my opinion. And to make a character unpleasant without motivation also leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The plot itself could have been great, but too many threads seemed to be flying all over the place with little explanation or follow-up.  There were leaks that were not resolved, threads that were never explained, and the reliance on Frigg to solve everything drove me nuts.  So, we've got this AI source, both inadmissible and unlikely to be caught, digging up information, while everyone else runs around on his instructions, conveniently overlooking some of the characters first introduced.  And there is a clear delineation between those who are compassionate and those who are not.  Personally, I like my stories, and my characters, to be somewhat more complicated than this.  

Collateral Damage had a good premise, but got lost in too many story lines and characters. The plot itself seemed to be a jumble of threads whereby the author only connected the ones that were convenient, but overlooked some important details that made me roll my eyes.  I didn't feel any connection to the characters because the descriptions didn't allow me to, telling me they made poor choices as adults, rather than letting me feel how their choices affected them.  And for the love of everything, please get rid of the A.I. and the reliance on Frigg to solve anything the main characters can't do easily. If you want to try a book by this author, I recommend one from the Joanne Brady series before venturing into this series. 



  1. I'm familiar with the writer's name, but never got into their books.