New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin “delivers the goods” (Publishers Weekly) again with this gripping, “spellbinding” (Fresh Fiction) thriller full of twists and turns—the twelfth in her bestselling Tracers series.
When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.
Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.
With Griffin’s signature “fully fleshed characters, dry humor, and tight plotting” (Publishers Weekly), Touch of Red demonstrates why she is one of the most acclaimed and popular authors of sexy thrillers today.
About the Author
Laura Griffin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracers series, the Wolfe Sec series, the Alpha Crew series, and several other novels. A two-time RITA Award winner and the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award, Laura lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book. Visit her at LauraGriffin.com, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/LauraGriffinAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
Touch of Red
It was like any other Wednesday night. Until it wasn’t.
Samantha Bonner had just finished sweeping up. She’d emptied the dustpan and sanitized the sink and wiped down the pastry case. The burned smell of coffee beans hung thick in the air, overpowering the vinegar solution she’d run through the machines. But it was quiet. She stood for a moment and let the silence surround her, glad to be free of the acoustic-guitar music that had been looping through her head all day.
Sam grabbed her purse and locked up. Crossing the rain-slicked parking lot to her car, she darted a look into all the dark corners. It was a safe neighborhood, but you never knew.
She pulled out of the lot, relieved to be on her way home after pulling a double shift. Raindrops pitter-pattered on her windshield as she made her way through downtown. She switched the wipers to low, and her phone lit up with an incoming call. Amy.
Sam stared down at the phone a moment. Then she put the call on speaker.
“Sam? Can you talk?” Amy sounded undone. More than usual.
“It’s Jared. He wants to move back in.”
“He called you?”
“He came by to drop off Aiden. I didn’t let him in or anything.”
Sam didn’t respond as she pulled up to a stoplight. In most areas, Amy wasn’t a pushover. But her two-year-old boy missed his daddy, and his daddy knew it. He used the kid as leverage.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Amy said now. “And I just want to talk through it, figure out what I’m going to tell him. Can you come over for a bit? I can make us some coffee.”
The mere thought of coffee made Sam want to retch. “Sure,” she said anyway. Amy was sniffling now, and Sam didn’t have the heart to say no.
“Or we could talk on the phone,” Amy said. “You’re probably busy. Tonight’s your night off, isn’t it?”
“No, I closed up.”
Sam slowed for a bend in the road. Stately oak trees and manicured lawns soon gave way to weeds and chain-link fences. Then came the railroad tracks. White-collar to blue in less than a mile. The people in Sam’s neighborhood commuted to work at all hours and didn’t stop for lattes on the way.
“I’ll be over in a little.” Sam turned onto her street. “Give me twenty minutes.”
“Are you sure?” Another sniffle.
“I’m sure.” Sam pulled into her driveway and rolled to a stop in the glow of her back-porch light.
“Thanks, Sam. I mean it. I just need to hash this out. I mean, what if he’s legit this time? I owe it to Aiden to at least think about it.”
Sam kept her skepticism to herself. For now. She slid from her car and noticed the white bike propped against her back deck as she walked up the driveway.
“Sam? You there?”
She mounted the steps and spotted a blur of movement. Pain exploded at the base of her skull.
Sam dropped to her knees and pitched forward. A big arm wrapped around her neck, hauling her back. The smell of tobacco registered in her brain, filling her with bone-deep fear as the arm clamped around her windpipe.
“Sam?” Amy’s voice was far away.
Pain roared through Sam’s skull. She struggled to move, to breathe. A glove-covered hand tipped her head back, exposing her neck.
Sam clawed at the arm, trying desperately to buck, to kick, to scream for help. No, no, no! From the corner of her eye, she spied her phone on the ground. She tried to call out but the cries died in her throat.
“Sam, are you there?”
Fear became panic as she saw the glint of a blade.
• • •
Brooke Porter beat the detectives, which surprised her. But then again, she’d made good time. When the message had come in coded 911, she’d dropped what she was doing and rushed straight over.
She parked beside a police unit and grabbed her evidence kit from the trunk as she surveyed the location. It was a small bungalow, like every other house on the block. In contrast to its neighbors, this home had a fresh coat of paint and looked to be in decent repair. Potted chrysanthemums lined the front stoop, where a uniformed officer stood taking shelter from the cold drizzle.
Brooke darted up the sidewalk and ducked under the overhang. The officer was big. Huge. Brooke had met him before, but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember his name.
“Jasper Miller,” he provided, handing her a clipboard. “Your photographer just got here.”
So, he knew she was with the Delphi Center. The San Marcos Police Department typically called Brooke’s lab in to help with their big cases.
Brooke scribbled her name into the scene log. “You the first responder?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded at the driveway. “Victim’s around back. Looks like she was coming home from someplace, and he surprised her at the door.”
Brooke eyed the little white Kia parked in the driveway. She wanted to see things for herself and draw her own conclusions.
“Medical examiner’s people got here about five minutes ago,” Jasper added.
“And the detectives?”
“On their way.”
She handed back the clipboard. “Thanks.”
Brooke picked her way across the stepping-stones in the grass, trying not to mar anything useful—although the rain had already done a pretty good job of that. At the top of the driveway several uniforms stood under a blue Delphi Center tent that had been erected beside the back porch.
Brooke’s stomach tightened with nerves as she lifted the crime-scene tape and walked up the drive. She noted the chain-link fence, the thick shrubbery, the trash cans tucked against the one-car garage. Plenty of places for someone to hide.
A camera flashed as she reached the tent. The Delphi Center photographer had already set up lights and started documenting the scene. Brooke unloaded some supplies from her kit. She zipped into coveralls and pulled booties over her shoes, then tugged on thick purple gloves as the uniforms looked on silently.
Beat cops thought she was an oddity. She showed up at death scenes with her tweezers and her flashlights and her big orange goggles. She plucked bits of evidence from obscure places and then scuttled back to the lab to do her thing . . . whatever that was.
The detectives got her. Well, maybe not totally. But they’d at least learned to appreciate what she could do for them. Which ones had been assigned to this case? And where the hell were they?
Brooke pulled her long dark hair into a ponytail. She picked up her evidence kit and sucked in a deep breath to brace herself before ducking under the tent to take her first look.
Blood was everywhere.
“Holy God,” she murmured.
A woman lay crumpled at the back door, her neck slashed open to the bone. Her hair, her clothes, even the wooden decking beneath her, were saturated. Dark rivulets had dripped down the stairs and were now coagulating in little pools on the lower slats.
“Watch your step.” She glanced up at the ME’s assistant crouched beside the body. He was reading a thermometer and making notes on a pad. “It’s slippery.”
Brooked walked up the stairs and eased around him, taking care not to step in any puddles. Maddie Callahan stood beside the door, photographing a scarlet arc against the white siding.
She lowered her camera and glanced at Brooke. “The detectives here?”
The breeze shifted, and Brooke got a whiff of blood, strong and metallic. She glanced again at the gaping wound and stepped back to grab the wooden railing.
Maddie looked at her. “You okay?”
Brooke should be immune to this stuff by now. But that neck.
She steadied herself and looked around. A set of blood-spattered car keys lay near the victim’s hand. Brooke glanced at the woman’s face, partially visible beneath blood-matted blond hair. Brooke didn’t see a weapon near the body. Any trail the killer might have left as he’d fled the scene had likely been obscured by rain. The back door stood ajar. Had he fled through the house?
She turned to the ME’s assistant. “Was this door open like this when you arrived?”
He glanced up, looking annoyed. “Yes. We haven’t been inside.”
Brooke turned to the victim again. Her head lolled weirdly to the side, and flies were already hovering despite the cool temperature. Brooke stepped past the ME’s assistant and slipped into the house.
She found herself in a dark utility room that smelled of fabric softener. The room was small but clean, without so much as a scrap of laundry on the floor. She switched on her flashlight and swept it around. No footprints.
She stepped into the kitchen, maneuvering around an open pantry door.
“Was this open, too?” she asked Maddie.
“That’s right. And I haven’t shot the kitchen yet, so don’t move anything.”
Brooke stood still, giving herself a few moments to absorb the scene. She always tried to put herself in the perpetrator’s shoes. Had he been in here? If so, what had he touched?
The kitchen was dim except for a light above the sink. Using the end of her flashlight, Brooke flipped a switch beside the door, and an overhead fixture came on.
No dirty dishes on the counter or food sitting out. Eighties-era appliances. A drying rack beside the sink contained a glass, a plate, and a fork. On the counter beside a microwave was a loose key and a stack of mail. She stepped over to read the name on the top envelope. Samantha Bonner.
Brooke zeroed in on the key. It was bronze. Shiny. Unremarkable, except that it was sitting there all by itself.
In the breakfast nook, a small wooden table was pushed up against a window. A brown bottle of root beer sat on the table unopened. Just below room temperature, judging from the condensation.
Brooke returned her attention to the pantry. Soup, soup, and more soup, all Campbell’s brand. It was like looking at an Andy Warhol painting. Chicken. Tomato. Cream of mushroom. The shelf above the soup was stocked with paper goods. The bottom shelf was filled with healthy cereals and gluten-free crackers and a package of those pink and white animal cookies with the colored sprinkles.
“Yeah?” She leaned her head out to look at Maddie.
“Just finished shooting the back door if you want it.”
“I definitely want it.” Brooke returned to the utility room. She put on her orange goggles and switched her flashlight to ultraviolet, searching the floor for any fluids that might not be visible to the naked eye.
She examined the knob a moment, then selected a powder from her kit. On the porch outside, the ME’s assistant was busy covering the victim’s hands with paper bags for transport back to the morgue.
Brooke glanced back at the kitchen, her attention drawn to the key again. It looked like a house key, and she wanted to know if it fit this door. But she couldn’t touch it until Maddie finished her photos.
Brooke opened the jar of powder and tapped some into a plastic tray. Using her softest brush, she loaded the bristles and then gently dusted the knob. She worked slowly, methodically. When she finished dusting, she cast her light over the fluorescent powder and was pleased to see a pristine thumbprint on the side of the knob.
“Maddie, can you get this for me?”
Maddie stepped over and photographed the knob from several angles. When she finished, she moved into the kitchen with her camera.
Brooked took out a strip of clear polyethylene tape and carefully lifted the thumbprint off the curved surface, taking care not to smudge it. She picked out a black card for contrast and gently placed the tape against the card.
One lift done, probably a hundred to go. She closed her eyes a moment and inhaled deeply. When she got laser focused, she sometimes forgot to breathe.
Brooke heard the detectives before she saw them—two low male voices at the front of the house exchanging clipped police jargon.
Sean Byrne and Ric Santos. She’d know them anywhere.
Brooke labeled the card and tucked it into her evidence kit. So, Sean and Ric on this one. They were experienced and observant. Sean noticed everything she did, even when he seemed to be interviewing witnesses or talking to other cops. He observed where she spent her time and how, and if she lingered in a particular spot, he always asked about it later.
Brooke noticed him, too. With his athletic build and sly smile, it was hard not to. But mostly she noticed his attitude. He had an easygoing confidence she found attractive. Nothing ever seemed to rattle him.
Of course, being a cop, he also had an ego.
The voices grew louder as the detectives neared the kitchen. Brooke didn’t look up, but she felt a jolt of awareness as Sean stepped into the room. His conversation stalled, and she could practically feel his gaze on her.
• • •
Sean watched Brooke for a moment, then turned to Jasper.
“You say the neighbor found her?”
“That’s right. Lady let her dog out, and he started barking like crazy, so she went outside to see what was going on and spotted the victim in a pool of blood there on the porch. Name’s Samantha Bonner. She works at a coffee shop.”
Sean raked his hand through his damp hair, scattering water on the floor. “Married? Kids?”
Jasper shook his head. “Neighbor says she lives alone.”
Sean unzipped his SMPD Windbreaker and glanced at Brooke again. She was on her knees by the back door, lifting fingerprints. Just beyond her was the victim, and the ME’s people were already unzipping the body bag.
Sean was accustomed to seeing Brooke surrounded by blood and gore, but this was bad. He studied the victim, noting the position of the body, the clothing.
Brooke closed her evidence kit and got to her feet as Sean approached.
“Hi.” She looked him up and down. “Where were you guys?”
“Got stuck behind an accident near the bridge. Tow truck’s blocking the road, so we had to hoof it.” Sean ran his hand through his hair again.
“Don’t drip water all over my crime scene.”
He smiled. “Yours?”
For a moment they just looked at each other, and Sean tried to read her expression.
“Detective? Can we bag her?”
Brooke shot a blistering look at the ME’s assistant, clearly not liking his glib tone.
Sean stepped into the utility room to take a look at the back porch. The whole area was a bloodbath.
“Jesus,” Ric said, coming up beside him. “You get all this, Maddie?”
“Yes, I’m finished with the porch,” the photographer called from the kitchen.
The ME’s guy looked at Sean again. “Detective?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Sean turned around. Brooke was watching him now, her evidence kit clutched at her side. He motioned for her to follow him into the living room.
Brooke was short and slender, with pale skin and a plump pink mouth he’d always wondered about. As she looked up at him, he noticed the worry line between her brows.
Her eyebrows shot up. “You mean besides the fact that this woman was practically decapitated on her doorstep?”
She took a deep breath and glanced around. “This crime scene bugs me.”
“Look at it. See for yourself.”
Without another word, she stepped around him and went back into the kitchen to crouch beside the pantry door.
Sean pulled some latex gloves from his pocket and tugged them on as he surveyed the kitchen. It was clean and uncluttered, except for a stack of mail on the counter beside a key. He studied the key for a moment, but resisted the urge to pick it up.
He opened the fridge. Yogurt, salad kit, pomegranate juice. On the lower shelf was a six-pack of root beer with a bottle missing from the carton. That was the bottle Maddie was snapping a picture of now as it sat on the breakfast table.
Sean glanced through the open back door as the ME’s people started loading the body bag onto a gurney. The victim’s clothes had been intact, and she’d shown no obvious sign of sexual assault. At first glance, it looked like the killer had grabbed her from behind and slit her throat. Given the lack of blood inside the house, Sean figured the attacker had fled down the driveway to the street or maybe hopped the back fence.
Ric stepped into the kitchen again. “Her purse is on the back porch. Wallet’s inside, but no cell phone.”
“You check the car?” Sean asked.
“Not yet. Let’s walk through the house first.”
“Don’t move anything,” Maddie said. “I haven’t been back there yet.”
After another look at Brooke, Sean led the way back. The simple layout had rooms off a central hallway. Sean flipped on a light in the first room. It had a wooden desk and a metal folding chair. On the desk was a notebook computer, closed and powered off. On the far side of the room stood a shelving unit crammed with books.
“Looks like a home office,” Sean said, moving on to the bathroom. He paid close attention to the floor as he went, but saw no blood or footprints or even dust bunnies.
The bathroom smelled like ammonia. Sean switched on the light.
“House is squeaky-clean,” Ric observed.
The pedestal sink gleamed. Sean opened the medicine cabinet. Toothpaste, cough drops, tampons. Ric eased back the shower curtain to reveal a shiny tub with several bottles of hair products lined up on the side.
They moved on to the bedroom, where they found a neatly made queen bed with a light blue comforter and two pillows in standard pink pillowcases that matched the sheets.
“Not a lot of pillows,” Sean said.
“Pillows. Most women put a lot on the bed, don’t they?”
“I don’t know. My wife does.”
Sean studied the room. It smelled like vanilla. On the dresser were several plastic trays of makeup and one of those bottles of liquid air freshener with the sticks poking up. Sean spied a sticky note attached to the mirror and leaned closer to read the feminine handwriting: One day, one breath.
Was it a poem? A song lyric? Maybe Samantha’s own words?
The closet door was ajar, and Sean nudged it open. Six pairs of jeans, all on hangers. A couple dozen T-shirts, also hanging.
Ric whistled. “Damn. You know anyone who arranges their T-shirts by color?”
“Nope.” Sean looked around the bedroom again. “Pretty basic. Not a lot here.”
He walked back through the house, noting a conspicuous absence of anything that would indicate a male presence. No razors on the sink or man-size shoes kicking around. No beer in the fridge. The living room was simply furnished with a sofa, a coffee table, and a smallish TV.
“Looks to me like she lives alone.” Ric turned to Jasper. “You say she works at a restaurant?”
“Coffee shop, according to the neighbor lady.” Jasper took out a spiral pad and consulted his notes. “Java House over on Elm Street.”
“I’ve never been in there.” Ric looked at Sean. “You?”
Sean glanced around the living room, which was devoid of clutter. Maybe the victim didn’t have a lot of money for extras, but even so, most women tended to decorate their homes more than this. Sean hadn’t spotted a single framed photograph in the entire place.
The strobe of a camera flash drew his attention to the kitchen again. Brooke was right. This scene seemed odd. Sean had worked a lot of homicides over the years, and most boiled down to money, drugs, or sex.
Sean had seen no sign of sexual assault. No drugs or drug paraphernalia or even alcohol. No hint of illegal activity. No evidence of a boyfriend.
A remote control sat on the coffee table. Sean had watched Brooke in action enough to know it would be one of the first items she collected to dust for prints.
“I don’t see any blood trails or signs of struggle inside,” Ric said. “Doesn’t feel like the assailant was in the house.”
“I’m not getting a read on motive.”
“I know.” Ric shook his head. “Doesn’t look like a rape or a robbery. No cash or drugs around.”
“We need her phone. I want to search her car and the surrounding area.”
“I’ll go check the car,” Ric said.
He exited the front, and Sean returned to the kitchen. Brooke wasn’t there. Maddie knelt in the pantry with her camera, and Sean noticed the pantry door was missing.
“What happened to the door?”
She glanced at him. “Brooke took it.”
“Took it where?”
“Back to the lab.”
Sean stared at her. “You mean she’s gone?”
“She needed to test something. She said it was urgent.”
“Yo, Sean, come here,” Ric called from outside.
Sean walked out the front, glancing at his watch. Why had she left already? This scene would take hours to process and they were just getting started.
Ric was in the driveway near the Kia. Another Delphi CSI in gray coveralls crouched beside the car.
Ric glanced up at Sean. “Jackpot.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As always, Laura deliversa great story with memorable characters. The pacing was good and the sexual tension was fantastic. I highly recommend this book.
A touch leaves a trace -- Brooke Porter, fingerprint expert, needs all of her skills to preserve a trace left by the young witness to a brutal murder. Detective Sean Byrne is back on duty after weeks of recovery from a broken leg. He’s worked with Brooke before and admires more than her professional expertise. As the case unfolds, Brooke and Sean discover more than clues to a murder. Ms. Griffin spins another tale featuring the experts at Tracers Forensic Lab with a multi-layered story sure to keep the reader turning pages to find the next clue.
Loved it! Want more of thus type of reading.
Really great series.
Great read, very suspenseful!
Touch of Red is filled with action, suspense and romance. I loved this book! Touch of Red is book 12 in Laura Griffin’s Tracers series, but it can be read as a standalone. There are characters from earlier books in the series, but I found it was easy to follow along. Brooke Porter is a crime scene investigator and takes on a new murder case. As she gathers evidence she works with homicide detective Sean Byrne. For months their attraction to each other has been getting stronger. As they start to explore their new relationship the murder case becomes their priority when Brooke’s life is put into danger. Can they identify the killer in time to protect Brooke? You must read the book to find out. I am a big fan of the TV show CSI so I was fascinated with this story. The crime scene investigation process was interesting without being overwhelmed with too much scientific detail. The cast of suspects had me guessing along with the detectives. I really liked the characters and their dedication to finding justice for the victim. Crime fiction is a genre I haven’t read many books in, but after reading Touch of Red I’m excited to read more of this genre. I especially want to start this series from the beginning since I really enjoyed the characters and the suspense. I can’t wait to read more books from Laura Griffin!
This story is classic Tracers series from Laura Griffin. I've read every single Tracers novel and love the balance of romance and suspense done VERY WELL. If you love crime TV shows but wish they ended with a happily ever after between the two main characters, add this book to your cart. Whether you've read all 11 other tiles or not this book will have your heart racing as they work the case, and fall in love at the same time.
Sean is a detective, a HOT detective. Brooke is a forensic scientist, a cute, nerdy scientist. Brooke and Sean are investigating a brutal murder. This leads the two through a series of twists and turns to a surprise suspect. Along the way...their attraction grows and just keeps growing until....well, you get the picture. I adore Brooke. Her intelligence and her caring for other people is so endearing. You really root for her to succeed. Then, there is Sean. He oozes sexuality. His is truly SEX ON A STICK. I love a good male lead. Especially one who is strong, smart and can save the day with a snap of his fingers. When Brooke and a young witness, Cameron, are kidnapped. It takes all Sean's willpower not to completely lose it. I love the attraction between Sean and Brooke. They are so great together. Each have wonderful qualities with some stubborn streaks. There is a storyline which never finishes. It's with Brooke's ex. I so wanted Sean to beat the crap out of him. But, the ex just sort of fades away and you never know....see these two need a sequel. As most of you know, romantic suspense is one of my guilty pleasures. And Laura Griffin is one my favorite authors in this genre. Her characters are so relatable and her stories are strong and consistent. This book is one of her bests.
Brooke Porter, is the Delphi Center crime scene investigator. She has a keen eye for evidence from obscure places then others might have missed. Sean Byrne, is a Homicide Detective, and he has worked with Brooke, before. Sean and Brooke have made appearances in previous books in the Tracers series. The story starts right off with a murdered woman. This time the crime scene is so very disturbing in a strange kind of way. There is evidence that there might be a witness to the crime. Brooke Porter is assigned to the case and Sean Byrne, is the lead homicide detective. With both on the case, it brings their skill to this investigation. So that they can track down a witness and a suspect. With both of Sean and Brooke working closely it will bring all of Sean’s feelings for Brooke out into the open. Then you will see a romantic relationship between these two begin, but not without some hesitation from Brooke. Brooke, is skeptical of people motives, so she makes Sean work for it. Touch of Red, is full of evidence and investigation into the violent murder of a young woman. Laura Griffin, your book always gabs me from the very first pages. Each time that I read any of your books you always raise the bar. You really do have a gift for storytelling and you keep me engaged with your books. If you haven’t read any of her books you are missing out on someone who is a master of storytelling. If you are looking for fast pact with lots of roller coaster ride than this is the book for you. I voluntarily reviewed this book for exchange for an honest review
I really enjoyed Sean and Brooke's story, as I had hoped I would from the teaser excerpt at the end of Cover of Night . The crime was horrifying, and the methods and techniques that Brooke and Sean used to solve the crime kept my interest--and really made me think about the legality of some of the new technology used today (one method was particularly iffy on the legal side, but pointed them in the right direction...that makes it okay...right?) I loved Brooke's dedication to her job, but she did act a bit tv/movie heroine-ish at times, making a few questionable choices that moved the case along but put herself or others in danger...still not 100% how I feel about that aspect. Sean is a fantastic hero, full stop, and together they are a great couple. The next book's pair are heavily hinted at in this one--can't wait to find out more about them! (Can't--but I will. Sigh.) Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Riveting, enthralling investigation that kept me, and the characters, on the edge through the story with the sweetest, tender, endearing romance that just took my breath away. You ever get to the end of a book, you have a tear falling down your cheek and after the last sentence you hear yourself whimper aloud? Yes, a little whine comes out of you because it is just so perfect, so adorable, and you don't want to let them go and live their lives in the imaginary world, but you want to hold on to that moment for a little bit longer... I'm a bit emotional here, I admit... The constant, convoluted, twisted search for the killer and for his motives combined with the talents of the detectives and the CSI workers impressed me and challenged me as I was reading the book. The steps they have to take, the politics and rules they have to follow, the clues they find - what seems like out of nothing - and how they put them together, risking their lives while doing it was dazzling. The suspense plot is twisted and tangled, the tension is palpable, and overshadowing their personal lives as well. Crime scene investigator Brooke Porter is a strong, tough, brave, capable, smart woman. I admired her and her abilities to piece the puzzle together. She goes out of her comfort zone to protect a young witness, putting herself in danger. Homicide detective Sean Byrne has been attracted to Brooke for some time, he just hoped the chance to act on the interest would have had a better timing. Sean's patience, kindness, and sweetness are tangible when Brooke is around, yet the tough, capable, brave detective is utterly frustrated with Brooke disregard of her personal safety and mingling into his investigation beyond her duties. Sean and Brooke have the chemistry to put the pages on fire. Yet there is also a bond that goes deeper than the physical attraction and fire they have for each other. They share their vulnerabilities and their fears, forming a true foundation to the relationship developing in between them. This story captivated my mind from the very start and the constant twists in the plot and finds in the investigation, the development of the relationship and the intensity of the tale made this book unputdownable until the end. Prepare yourself for one breathtaking thrill ride! ~ Five Spoons!
Touch of Red Laura Griffin Griffin’s latest is a pulse-pounding nail-biting thriller that features her iconic, state of the art Delphi Center crime lab. The stars, Brooke, an über brilliant, yet wary of men crime scene investigator and Sean, an alpha macho San Marcos TX homicide detective with a huge ego and big heart are a genuine and likeable couple, and their head butting is just as entertaining as their romance is smoking hot. The author’s amazing attention to detail illuminates real facts in an incredible piece of fiction cleverly weaving an intricate web of a chilling mystery but not revealing “who-done-it” until the very end. The novel will satisfy both fans of crime drama as well as fans of romantic suspense. Finally the highlighting of the real vulnerability of troubled kids and the degenerates who prey on them is disturbing and eye opening. Novel can be read as stand alone. SUMMARY: When her ex became stalker-ish, Brooke Porter decided its time to take a break from men. Luckily she has plenty to keep her occupied with her job for the Delphi Center. When she catches a case for the San Marcos PD for a woman’s murder it also puts her in close contact with a certain alpha cop who’s high on her list of look but don’t touch and exactly the kind of man she’s taking a break from. Homicide detective Sean Byrne has a couple of puzzles facing him, one is his latest murder investigation one with few clues and always more questions than answers, but the biggest puzzle is the beautiful crime scene investigator whose working the case for his department, the same one he’s been lusting after and wondering if now is the right time to put the moves on.
A heinous crime, a suspenseful plot… This is the twelfth book in the Tracers series that can be read as a stand-alone. A woman arrives home and is brutally killed before she can enter the premises. In the bloody aftermath crime scene investigator Brooke Porter finds evidence of a possible witness another might have missed using not widely known technology, the unknown witness is a child she now intends to make sure stays safe. This CSI takes work seriously having no qualms going above and beyond job requirements to help solve the case in ways a CSI is not normally involved. She might be good at finding evidence but she’s not a trained detective and on duty is unarmed yet that won’t stop her from stepping into danger nor will the directive to keep her distance from the case from the detective she happens to like, her good intentions are apt to get her killed or worse. The way the victim was killed exhibited a serious level of rage and though Detective Sean Byrne looks forward to seeing the sexy helpful evidence gathering CSI, having her work the case like a detective is decidedly dangerous for one untrained. The pressure mounts as Brooke steps more and more into the investigation and after another connected grizzly death Sean knows that he’ll have to work harder to solve the case quickly since he wants to keep the CSI he really wants to get to know better safe. The protagonists had been eying each other prior to this case but it’s their involvement in this one that enhanced the magnetic pull that existed between them. They both had past issues to deal with but they navigated them well through bouts of honest communication amid the constant tracking down of clues and dealing with new developments. Though their timing could have been better, their chemistry was palpable and the romance flowed nicely and felt real. The crime which literally opened the story was heinous, the ensuing plot was suspenseful and held this reader’s attention, as the mystery slowly unraveled more questions arose. This reader was disappointed at the ending, would have liked the heroine to have offered or the hero to have extracted a promise of the heroine to never do something so reckless again, this reader wanted to smack her for taking risks she wasn’t trained for, that she got into serious trouble was of no surprise. An advanced reading copy was obtained from the publisher via NetGalley.
Brooke Porter is a trace evidence analyst, when she arrives at the home of a murdered woman the only thing more shocking than the scene itself, is that someone walked away. Now its up to her to tell the police there is a witness, but she is invested in helping them find the boy. However, while she is insanely focused she is also distracted by homicide detective Sean Byrne. Sean has had his eye on Brooke for months, and while he is assigned to investigate the murder, this one gets to him more because Brooke is right in the middle of it. Sean is determined to help her on the case, as long as she isn't in danger, but his attraction to her and keeping work separate is difficult. Sean will make sure that Brooke is safe, but it gets even more complicated when the killer(s), is determined to get Brooke out of the picture because she knows too much. Laura Griffin's Tracer series is a great mystery to delve into and some even hit really close to home depending on your career. I really enjoyed Touch of Red you were never quite sure where the evidence was going to lead the investigators or who the killer was until the very end. I thought the romance between Brooke and Sean progressed at a natural pace and they have great chemistry. Sean's frustration with Brooke was sometimes entertaining because she is a determined woman and is set on doing what she needs to do to not only solve the case but help the boy involved as well. While we see characters from previous books, its not necessary to read the series in order. Received ARC in exchange for honest voluntary review from NetGalley
Thank you NetGalley and Laura Griffin for the ARC of Touch of Red that I read and reviewed. Well, Laura Griffin did it again with the Tracers series. She wrote another book that I was could not put down and kept engaged until the very end. In this book crime scene investigator Brooke Porter is matched up with homicide detective Sean Byrne in a case that has a child as a witness. As the case gets more intense so does the relationship between Brooke and Sean. What can I say? This book is as it all. A ruthless killer who as a lot to loose if he is caught so he will stop at nothing to stay hidden, even kill a child. A woman who is trying to avoid relationships but is drawn to a sexy detective and can't decide if she wants to listen to her mind or her heart and is willing to risk her life to save a child. A detective that plays by the book and has to break a few rules because the woman he is falling for wants to protect a child at all costs and also has to take things slow with a woman that want to be friends when he wants so much more. If you are looking for a book that has a lot of suspense and romance this book has it also. Also, if you are a fan of the Tracers series or just starting the series this book is a must read. You see some old friends and meet some new ones that will probably (I hope) be seen again. I am giving Touch of Red five out of five stars.
There’s nothing like a ringside seat for the action! An absolute 5 star read. Though, (regrettably) I haven’t read all of the Tracers’ books in this series, they are now at the top of my TBR list. The good news is, you don’t have to read them in order. The bad news is – you won’t sleep until you’re finished reading! Brooke Porter is a fingerprint expert called to work a particularly gruesome murder scene, a woman slaughtered on her own doorstep. Brooke’s special training and attention to detail reveals clues other detectives overlooked and provides the first leads in the case. Sean Byrne is a homicide detective who has investigated the worst of what man can offer. When he arrives at a victim’s house, the woman nearly decapitated, he and his partner are stymied until Brooke presents a scenario involving a child witness. The characters are so real and down to earth, you can see them as people you’d interact with. Their interactions are consistent and heartfelt throughout while the banter stays lively and tension remains high. As usual with this author’s writing, this book takes you on a twisted ride with the perfect amount of detail to keep you intrigued. Technical aspects are described in a way that is both easily understood and flows very well with the plot. Both Brook and Sean are incredibly hot, their romance interwoven throughout the ride. Still the fast pace will keep you glued to your seat. Warning: Line up your favorite beverages before you start. You won’t want to miss a darn thing. Of all the authors I’ve read, Laura Griffin should be at the top of everyone’s list!
Oh so good, make that FABULOUS READ. Make sure when you start this one you have the time to finish it because once you start you will not be able to put it down. This starts right out with a grizzly murder and Brooke Porter is off and running with her meticulous CSI ways. Sean Byrne is a homicide detective and he is assigned this case and has had his eye on Brooke for quite a while. Now they are essentially working together and with this case having so many twists and turns it brings them closer. So much suspense, thrilling twists, and sexy heat added in to keep it interesting and the pages kept turning so fast until I was surprised it was over. Great character development and interaction with the secondary characters who have been around in the previous books and even if you have not read those you will not be lost. This one can be read as a standalone and is totally standalone and does not cross over at all, just characters. I highly recommend it! **Received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley**
This was such a good read! The heroine is a crime scene investigator and the Hero is a homicide detective. That right there was enough to keep me engrossed in this story. Laura Griffin did a fantastic job of creating a story that was exciting, while adding some spice into the mix with a love interest between Brooke and Sean, as they worked together to solve a murder. I was fascinated with Brooke's job. There were several scenes describing what her job entails to help investigations. I didn't know I would find that so intriguing. I actually enjoyed the parts about her job more than I did Sean's. I did enjoy Sean's pursuit of Brooke though. I loved these two as a couple. Brooke was a bit standoffish due to a bad break up previously but Sean handled it perfectly. It never got to a point that I was annoyed by the pushing away. This is book 12 in the series and it can be read as a standalone. I never felt like I was jumping into the middle of a series. I have not read any of the previous books but I did look at a few of the blurbs in previous series books to see if the side characters have their own books and they do. You can bet I will be going back and reading the rest of the series. ARC provided by NetGalley.
This is the first book in this series I've read but after reading it I am now hooked!! It's fast paced, lots of twists and action, suspense, and a steamy romance. The writing and characters are fantastic and the plot will keep you guessing. I don't want to giveaway too much of the story since that's part of the fun of reading this one. It starts with a horrific murder and the action never stops from there. If you enjoy a good romantic thriller/suspense this is a book you don't want to miss. I highly recommend it.
Touch of Red by Laura Griffin is the 12th book in her terrificTracers series, which is romance suspense at its best. This series reads very well as a standalone, as in each book, the heroes are different members of the Delphi Center (forensics lab) and usually a detective working on the latest murder case. It is always fun to get glimpses of some of the characters we have met previously. Touch of Red starts off with a violent murder, and we meet our heroine, Brooke Porter, who arrives on the gory scene to investigate for any clues. Sean Byrne, our hero, is a homicide detective who also arrives on the scene. Sean has been eying Brooke for awhile, and now they will be working on the same case. Both are appalled at the scene in front of them, and soon Sean notices that Brooke left in a hurry to bring some evidence to the Delphi Center lab. She discovers that there may have been a witness to the murder, and surmises by her forensic tests that it is a young child. The race is on to find the witness before the murderer finds out that someone was watching. What follows is a very exciting adventure with so many twists and turns, it was important to not miss anything. Brooke and Sean’s relationship escalated into a sizzling romance, with their chemistry together off the wall. However, despite this sexy romance, the murder investigation is always the main focus of the story. Sean becomes unnerved when he finds Brooke taking a personal approach to find the child, and he tries to tell her it is his job to investigate, and she should stay only with deciphering the evidence. Brooke despite Sean’s warnings continues to get herself into situations that are not her job description, and puts herself in danger. The last half of the book is an edge of your seat thriller that will not allow you put the book down. To tell too much more would be spoilers, which I do not want to do. I loved Brooke and Sean together, and did think that Brooke went too far, and Sean was such a great hero, and perfect for Brooke. I am a big fan of the Tracers series, which has a bit of everything; intricate mystery, murder, suspense, exciting, great couple & secondary characters, as well as a sexy romance in the background. But the best thing about this series is how Griffin uses her knowledge of forensic anthropology and police procedural throughout her books. It is amazing to see how they can use different things for the clues they find; on just about anything. Touch of Red continues the Tracers series with an amazing intense mystery that has you on the edge throughout the entire book. If you enjoy a fast paced romance suspense, a murder mystery, with lots of action, intense situations and a touch of romance, then you should be reading Laura Griffin’s Tracers series. This is a wonderful series you should not be missing.
Three and a half stars. I wanted to give this book three stars but I was comparing this to Laura's other books, compared to the genre she is still streets ahead of the others. Brooke Porter is a crime scene investigator with the Delphi Centre, incredibly dedicated she is almost OCD in her attention to detail and commitment to catching the guilty. She is brought to a crime scene where a young woman was brutally murdered just outside her front door. Immediately Brooke senses that there is something 'off' about the scene which leads her to discover that there may have been a witness. Sean Byrne is a homicide detective. After being shot recently he has had a 'come to Jesus' moment and realised that his life was fairly meaningless and he could have died without ever making a real connection or creating a legacy. He's attracted to Brooke, he finds her intriguing and wants to know her better. I haven't read the previous Tracers book so I don't know the backstory with Sean and Brooke (if there is any). While I enjoyed the investigative aspects of this novel I felt that the romance overtook the plot about halfway/ two-thirds of the way through and I lost interest a bit. The Brooke, the OCD investigator decides that she will ignore protocol and the rules of evidence and just investigate on her own. Whilst describing her as TSTL might be harsh she definitely has those tendencies. I have reviewed another series that Laura has started and commented that it felt as though she was being pushed into a direction that she wasn't comfortable with and sadly I feel as though the same is happening with Tracers. This is a series of romantic suspense/ thriller romances. There are scary psycho serial killers everywhere and geeky women who investigate. This started that way and I was L.O.V.I.N.G. it, then, as I said, just after half way through it felt like I was reading one sex scene after another and the investigation was shunted into the background. In the end, I didn't feel the murderer was all that exciting and I had serious doubts about the detective skills that identified the murderer. If you haven't read any of the Tracers novels before you will find this enjoyable and educational (who knew that about children's fingerprints?) but IMHO lovers of Laura Griffin's novels will find this a little disappointing. Please dial back the sex/ romance and up the mystery quality in the next one Laura. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Touch of Red is the latest Tracers novel by Laura Griffin. This is one of my favorite long running series, and on the auto buy list for me. This installment doesn’t disappoint. Brooke and Sean have made appearances in previous books. Griffin always brings future couples into books without making it obvious, which is a nice touch. The story moves quickly, and the romance is woven into it well. Longtime fans of the series will welcome the familiar, with twists, while new fans can jump right in. If you are a romantic suspense fan, you really should be reading this series. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.