Deadly Encounter – DiAnn Mills

Deadly Encounter DiAnn Mills
Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills
Also by this author: Airborne, Fatal Strike, High Treason, Deep Extraction, Where Tomorrow Leads, Long Walk Home, Trace of Doubt, Trace of Doubt, Concrete Evidence, Facing the Enemy
Series: FBI Task Force #1
Published by Tyndale House Publishers on August 1, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
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Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston's airport. What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man's motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747. Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy's community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

Deadly Encounter is the third book by DiAnn Mills that I have read, and thus far – unfortunately – my least favorite. The first book of Mills’s “FBI Task Force” series was well written, and I could tell it was well researched. That being said, I struggled with this one. Stacy Broussard is a caring veterinarian who volunteers as an airport ranger on Saturday mornings. When she stumbles across a body, an injured dog, and a military-grade drone, her life turns upside down. FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc and his partner are on the case.

But the tale does not end there. In a maze of questions, the characters keep running into dead ends. When they think they have stumbled across a clue, it only leads them into another, more convoluted level of the maze. There are so many facets to Deadly Encounter. There’s the murder. Stacy’s custody battle for a 12-year-old genius of a boy with a wretched family life. A crime-infested, low-income neighborhood. Dead relatives. Broken relationships. A polluted water scam. Then, finally, a sudden but deadly illness with no obvious cause. Could it be a virulent case of the flu…or worse? Terrorism? Biological warfare? I normally enjoy a book with many tiny subplots that lead to a conclusion, but Deadly Encounter was hard for me.

The plot was very elaborate, but that both worked for and against it. Sometimes it was as if DiAnn Mills was too caught up in the scheme that she lost track of the overall story and further expanding upon the relationships between the characters. To be frank, I found parts of the novel to be bland. The interactions between Stacy and Alex seemed forced. I wanted to see more of them together, rather than sending quick text messages to each other. I didn’t come into this book expecting a whirlwind romance, but I would’ve appreciated seeing this aspect developed a little more.

The tension in the novel crept upward as it continued. The “big moment,” however…I found it to be a little anticlimactic. I wanted something a little bigger than what actually occurred. Although I will say this—bravo to DiAnn Mills for the super subtle hints dropped throughout the novel. I didn’t identify the “bad guy” till close to the very end of the novel although I tried to figure that portion out the entire time. The “when” and the “what” seemed straightforward, but then Mills kept adding to them until the final pages. That’s when she finally gave her readers the “who,” the “how,” and the “why.”

Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills was good, but it wasn’t great. For me, the novel was a slow burn that probably could’ve moved faster and have kept my attention a little better. I did enjoy it. It was suspenseful. Life-threatening in a way, yes, but for me, that didn’t add any real excitement to the story. The characters had depth, but the relationships between them often seemed a little too surface-level.  Deadly Encounter was a slow progression from one turn in the maze till the next until it eventually reached its end.