Tracefinder: Contact (Tracefinder #1)

Author: Kaje Harper

Publisher: self

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Smashwords and Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher


Blurb:  What could an undercover cop and a drug lord’s pet psychic have in common?

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:  Brian Kerr is hiding in plain sight. Brian makes sure everyone around him just sees Bry. Bry doesn’t ask questions and he’s easy to control. Brian is coasting along behind a veneer of intellectual disabilities he’s amplified. If he doesn’t see anything and no one tells him anything he doesn’t have to make any real decisions. Officer Nick Rugo is happy to go back into undercover work. He’s happy to be Nick Green if it means getting designer drugs out of the hands of kids. Nick is also happy to be Nick Green as it allows him to express his anger freely. Nick is doing his best to prove Vern Marston is the mastermind behind the drugs. Brian Kerr is Marston’s brother-in-law. Nick quickly realizes there is more to Brian than Bry. Nick couldn’t have been more correct. Everything here is more than it appears to be on the surface. Unfortunately, Nick is Officer Nick Rugo and his job is to ruin the family and home of Brian in the interest of public safety.

Everyone is hiding something. Damon is possibly the most up front character in this whole story. His only goal in life is to keep his brother and sister safe, fed, and housed by any means necessary. Damon doesn’t like dealing with the more annoying traits of Bry, but he does it. Brian and Damon’s sister Lori is a bit more devious, but is still doing her best to never again be impoverished. Poverty is the villain of this story. Yeah, Vern Marston is a creep, but it was the crushing poverty that made the Kerr family susceptible to Vern.

The reader is aware of the Bry/Brian dichotomy before Nick is, but we’re not truly aware of how much Bry is a construct for a good portion of the story. Possibly Brian himself wasn’t aware of it. Nick found himself in a situation where he felt an attraction to a man he didn’t feel was capable of giving informed consent to romantic involvement. This was pretty darn uncomfortable for Nick, as it should be. But I knew there was so much more to Brian than Nick thought and wanted for him to find something for himself. It’s not until Brian is really in a situation where he has to begin to stand on his own two feet that a relationship between the two men feels like something I could safely root for. Basically, for a good portion of the book I found myself as uncomfortable as Nick. I liked that.

The paranormal aspects of the story are fairly low key. Brian can Find people. His talent drives the plot in interesting ways. It gives Brian another reason to hide as Bry. No one looks to the guy who can’t read and chews with his mouth open to find a missing child. Brian’s talent could save lives but ruin his own. Interestingly, it’s Damon who taught Brian to hide his talent and avoid being exploited. Despite the fact he’s committed horrible crimes, Damon does a pretty good job of providing for his family.

Okay, so, I really liked this book. The characters are compelling and multi-faceted. I found myself liking bad guys and questioning my own perceptions of the story. This book made me think. A lot of heavy things are left unresolved as of the end of this book. Both Brian and Nick are going to have a lot of guilt coming up real quick. Hiding things from the people you love may seem like a great idea when you’re under pressure, but at some point Brian and Nick will no longer be under pressure.

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