What is this about?: Jude and her return to normal life, whatever that is, after years in captivity. Slowly, Frasier unfurls Jude’s past, while setting her on the path for her future, post captivity.
What else is this about?: Jude is set on trying to find out why she was picked and kept hostage, and realises that ties into a case of missing girls she had only just begun to investigate. Her “body reader” talent is less a part of this than the title would lead you to believe.
Blurb: For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning his every line, every movement, and every flicker of thought is what kept her alive.
After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead. Despite colleagues’ doubts about her mental state, she resumes her role at Homicide. Her new partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, doesn’t trust her sanity, and he has a story of his own he’d rather keep hidden. But a killer is on the loose, murdering young women, so the detectives have no choice: they must work together to catch the madman before he strikes again. And no one knows madmen like Jude Fontaine.
First, I had high hopes for this — the thought of someone taking a character kept in captivity and exploring how she’d changed, beyond the obvious, was compelling. And it made perfect sense that this change would be about a cop’s perceptions and her awareness.
But. But. The book falls short — in truth, it never really gets started on this aspect of Jude’s character. And, as I began to read this book, I began to wonder: what exactly is the difference between Jude’s new talent before being held captive and after? Isn’t a cop supposed to notice smells and body language as it is?
But, let me get to the story: Jude escapes her captivity and returns to her life as a cop — along with a new partner. Everything about her is switched off, flat — and by the nature of what she’s gone through, that makes sense. She’s trying to figure out how to react to things and people anew and it’s not going to be easy. The problem is, this flatness is a constant through the narrative until literally the last page, which makes for a boring thriller. I needed progression, I needed something more than an aborted attempt to move back to her ex’s house and try again. Don’t get me wrong, there are other times she tries to be normal and there’s a hint of the struggle she’s going through, but mostly she’s just flat.
It’s Uriah, her partner, that interested me more, than had most of the emotional oomph in this that appealed to me. He’s trying to put his life back together after he lost his wife, and he’s not doing it well. He’s hiding it well from everyone, but he’s struggling to keep himself together and help Jude, even if she may not want it. They’re an odd couple, but they work because of Uriah.
I suppose there’s an emotional connection tried for in including Jude’s family in this too, but it too falls flat. For one, because the only emotion she can muster for them is hatred.
This would be a fine thriller, I suppose, if it was packaged as something unique with a title like The Body Reader. It’s as if the title was an attempt to make a fairly straightforward and normal thriller into something unique for the slimmest of reasons shown in the plot.