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The Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland) by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Cover Artist: Andy and Michelle Kerry / Trevillian Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765332585
Date: 10 September 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Struggling to write a front-page feature at the Boston Register, newspaper reporter Jane Ryland is investigating the clubbing death of a foster parent, Brianna Tillson. Jane's secret detective boyfriend, Jake Brogan, is also investigating the same murder. Jane discovers the murder is tied with several other crimes: the theft of babies from the Department of Family Services (DFS) and the suspicious suicide of an employee who works for the Branigan, an agency specializing in reuniting adopted children with their birth mothers. Soon Jane is being terrorized by killers who don't want her to learn about families who are being sent the wrong children.

Hank Phillipi Ryan’s The Wrong Girl is an interesting, complex thriller; however, it fails to generate the same intrigue that was found in Ryan's previous Jane Ryland mystery, The Other Woman, in which a serial killer was slaying women at various bridges throughout Boston.

The Wrong Girl has numerous subplots that are all tied together. This is great but pacing is hampered by too much unnecessary description. For example, when a character is standing in the lobby of a building, I don't need to know details of everyone who walked past them. Many clothing descriptions were too repetitive. The author makes it very clear that the season is winter and Jane is wearing gloves and a muffler.

Also, Ryan's writing style is annoying. She uses too many one-word sentences. (For example, Ryan writes: "Check. It. Out." Keefer's whispery voice had that stoned sound. I'm guessing the purpose of the one-word sentences is for variety and building tension, but it is employed too often. Also, the novel has 82 short chapters and choppy sentences often end them in order to add suspense. For example:

She was going in.
She was.
Maybe.
Jane Ryland, we all know, is in love with Jake Brogan, which is a conflict of interest. It could lead to one of them losing their job. However, they act like teenagers as they try deceiving everyone. They're constantly signaling and texting each other. At times, I thought I was reading a romance intended for teenagers. I understand that this novel is considered romantic suspense but the maturity level isn't there for me. I wanted to tell Jane and Jake to hurry up and get married so we can all move on with our lives. Both characters are extremely nice people who care about others and work hard at their jobs; they should get married and work together as a sleuthing team. I hope this "romantic tension" doesn't continue throughout the series.

Despite the writing style and plot mechanics that were annoying, I thought the overall novel was unique and interesting. I never thought criminals would financially benefit from reuniting adopted children with the wrong birth parents. Tying it together with the baby kidnapping scheme was also clever. However, what I enjoyed the most about the novel were the three siblings, Kev, Keefer, and Kellianne Sessions, who were hired to perform crime scene cleanup. The three added some morbid dark humor to the plot. They were trashy, despicable siblings. Kellianne selling crime scene memorabilia over the internet was also clever. I will agree that people will buy anything over the internet.

Overall, I recommend Hank Phillippi Ryan's The Wrong Girl for fans of romantic suspense with strong female leads. Because Jane and Jake are lovely people who become entangled in some interesting crimes and make a wonderful sleuthing team, I hope to read the next installment in this series. However, I also hope the next installment is put on a diet. All unnecessary details, descriptions and dialogue need to be cut out, making the plot leaner and faster paced. I also recommend the first novel in the series, The Other Woman, be read prior to The Wrong Girl so that readers will more fully understand the struggles that Jane and Jake undergo at their respective jobs as journalist and detective.

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