Collateral Damage // Lynette Eason

//published 2020//

I read an enjoyed Eason’s Hidden Identity trilogy a while back, so when I had an opportunity to read a reviewer’s copy of the first book in her new series, I took it.   Collateral Damage is a solid start to a series with likable characters and good pacing.  It wasn’t particularly a stand-out thriller for me, but it was still an enjoyable, 3.5* read.

The story focuses on Brooke, who was a military psychiatrist in Afghanistan until she was honorably discharged after she was injured in an explosion.  Now she works privately in South Carolina, determined to leave her past behind.

Meanwhile, Asher has also left the army behind after a terrorist incident killed several men for whom he was responsible.  Plagued with nightmares, he finally decides to seek psychiatric help, and sets up an appointment with Brooke.  However, when he arrives, he finds Brooke’s secretary murdered, and it appears that the killer was actually trying to get Brooke.  Soon, Asher and Brooke are caught up in a deadly cat-and-mouse game, struggling to find out why Brooke has suddenly become a target.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this one, including the characters themselves, who were relatable and likable.  However, it was a little jarring how quickly Asher and Brooke hit it off.  Apparently, they somewhat knew each other in Afghanistan, but it would have been helpful if there had been a little more backstory for them as Brooke’s almost immediate complete trust in Asher felt abrupt.  I knew Asher was one of the good guys, but how did Brooke know?  From her perspective, she comes in to work and finds her secretary dead and a strange man there – Asher.  Having Brooke immediately let Asher follow her around everywhere felt weird to me, and could have been dealt with if they had had a little more history up front.

Overall, though, the pacing was good, bringing together several strands quite well.  I was engaged in the various aspects of the mystery, trying to see how the pieces were going to mesh.  The conclusion was believable.  And while this book tied up all its loose ends, there are secondary characters who seem likely to make an appearance in their own books later on.

All in all, while Collateral Damage wasn’t a mind-blowing read, it was an enjoyable one that I recommend.