Title: Tracefinder: Contact
Author: Kaje Harper
Pages/Word Count: 518 Pages
At a Glance: Exciting, action-packed and emotionally charged, this novel has it all.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Brian Kerr has spent years hiding behind a facade of mental slowness. His brother and sister got all three of them off the streets and into a cushy life, under the protection of a dangerous criminal. But to keep that safety, Brian has to use his Finding talent to track down the boss’s enemies. Although he pretends not to know what he’s really doing, each Find takes its toll, and he’s trapped in a life he hates, losing touch with his true self.
Nick Rugo’s job is to protect and serve the people of Minneapolis as an undercover cop. He isn’t closeted, but he isn’t out at work, and there’s a wild, angry side to him that he’s managed to keep hidden until now. When he’s assigned to bring Brian’s boss to justice, he intends to use anything and anyone it takes to do that.
Nick initially sees Brian as a pawn to be played in his case, but he keeps getting glimpses of a different man behind the slow, simpleminded mask. As the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear they share secrets, some of which might get them both killed.
Review: Held captive by a past defined by crippling poverty and raised by a drug addicted mother, Brian Kerr survived by wrapping himself in a persona that allowed him to escape from reality and hide his real feelings deep inside. Playing the part of a slow-witted child also allowed him to hide the strange talent that his brother, Damon, was able to translate into a meal ticket for not only he and Brian but Brain’s sister as well. Unfortunately, Brian’s trick of “finding” others has turned from a survival tactic to something much darker and more sinister.
Now he is trapped, the prize toy of a rising drug czar who uses Brian’s gift to track down wayward employees and dispose of them. However, the police have caught wind of the entire operation and sent one of their own, Officer Nick Rugo, undercover to gather damning evidence to expose and shut down the entire operation. Nick chases his own demons from a violent and painful past, finding release in the occasional fistfight where he allows all the hate that bubbles within him to push aside the law abiding cop and free the angry man hidden inside. He lives for the job and, other than a bar fight now and then, keeps a tight rein on himself and his desires…until he meets Brian and all kinds of emotions he never knew he had come rushing to the surface. Now Nick must decide if saving Brian is more important than doing the one job that has kept him balanced all these years.
Author Kaje Harper has served up another intense and carefully crafted novel in Tracefinder: Contact, and it is an incredible tale. Clocking in at over 500 pages, and reading more like a delightful dime store thriller, the story gives us just enough to keep us hanging on at the end, hungry for the next installment. A Kaje Harper novel always offers up intricately woven characters that are multi-layered and who often hide much more than they allow to show on the surface; such is the case with Nick and Brian.
Brian has been told his entire life that he is stupid, slow, and sometimes more of a burden than he is worth. Were it not for his rare gift, which makes him akin to a human compass, able to find people who would sometimes rather stay lost, Brian would have easily been dismissed out of hand. No one stops to see the real person inside—the one who is smart, sensitive and so very eager to experience freedom from the gift that now ties him to murder and crime. Brian’s confusion and loneliness is so palpable—it is almost a shield that surrounds him—one that Nick can sense and responds to with such tenderness. Here is Nick’s soothing balm; being with Brian brings forth such strong protective emotions—ones Nick was so sure he’d lost years before. The cop who follows the rules is suddenly pulled into the life of someone who has never fully lived—who has always been trapped, whether by his horrendous upbringing or by his controlling brother. Nick so desperately needs to be needed—to save someone, if only to be sure that he still can. His own past haunts him and is the wellspring to the anger that threatens to take him over–and sometimes does. The truth is that he needs Brian just as much as Brian needs him. And that scares Nick to death.
While some critics may say this story appears long-winded, I would beg to differ. I was pulled into this story, hooked completely, and read it voraciously to the end. I have often remarked that one of the many strengths this author has is her ability to write characters that are utterly believable and genuinely endearing. To make this novel go faster, to sacrifice chapters where both Brian and Nick explored their feelings for each other and for their circumstances, would be akin to serving up mere shadows of the captivating men they become by novel’s end. Not only that, this first book needed to establish a whole wealth of relationships, set the stage for continuing novels and begin to establish a relationship that admittedly hangs by a delicate thread. This is more than just a cop story—this is the creation of a family of people who draw us in and encourage us to stay with them—to see how their lives will unfold, what drama will be unleashed and, ultimately, who will survive in the end.
Tracefinder: Contact is the first in a series that is bound to keep Kaje Harper’s fans, new and old, on the edge of their seats waiting for each and every installment. Exciting, action-packed and emotionally charged, this novel has it all. I highly recommend it to you.
You can buy Tracefinder: Contact here: