I think this writer is brilliant! I have now read, non-stop, all seven of the books in this series AND the following two in which Peyton becomes a Special Agent with the FBI. I like absolutely everything about the books except I get really annoyed about how emotionally stupid Marco and Peyton are about each other. I just can't tolerate their idiocy about each other. And I can't quite believe it. It reminds me too much of the conventions of romance fiction. That's why four instead of five stars.
It's harder to believe Peyton's idiocy about Marco than Marco's idiocy about Peyton because she's too smart and too successfully manipulative of people, esp. men, for me to believe she doesn't understand his emotional jerkiness, his macho bs. It comes across as a form of brain damage. Maybe machismo is a kind of brain damage.. He is emotionally constipated; she is not. But everything else about the books absolutely fascinates me. I love how the author embraces and incorporates generic conventions, indicating her brilliance as a plot architect who knows what to embrace without ever being too tightly girdled by those conventions. She is totally in control (or so it seems). I love the contrast between Peyton's style (kind, sympathetic, empathic, appreciative of the unique reality of the person she is talking with; the ease with which she is able to find a connection with those she interrogates that puts them at ease, allows them to be themselves, authentically, so that when they share whatever piece of the truth they have with her, it is truly a person to person communication and never a defensive expression of successful intimidation techniques and therefore potentially unreliable) and the style of the various men who are also pictured conducting interrogations, gruff arrogant stupid insensitive interrogations (esp. Radar, in the first two of the FBI series). Another thing I love -- the author, this brilliant author, always at some point identifies the race of her characters -- it's nice to read a book in which the default assumption is not that a character is white unless otherwise specified. Another thing I love -- Peyton's ability to create family among disconnected people. The books are absolutely loaded with evidence of commitment to "political correctness" but there's never a single moment that the fact of her commitment to inclusivity leads to boredom with high minded exposition for this reader.
I am so sad that I have now read them all and in the future will have to read them one at a time, as they are completed. She provided me with a nine book feast (it is, after all, Thanksgiving this time of the year and feasts are expected and enjoyed by so many of us) but now I will be starving until each next book comes. I hate when readers (like me, doing what I am doing by writing this) exert pressure on authors to just hurry hurry hurry up and give me the next book. Putting that kind of pressure on an author is so inconsiderate, fails to take into account the need of the author, who is another human being, like the rest of us, to rest, live her own life, explore whatever interests and amusements she is attracted to. I keep reminding myself that she is NOT a book making machine. But if she were. . . I'd be standing at the output tray grabbing and reading each page as it is spit out. She is a treasure. Her books are treasures. Her characters are simultaneously completely believable, completely creatures of blood and bone and brain, innate personalities, memories, etc., and at the same time representative and symbolic. It is so rare in generic literature to find deep thought. Again, ML Hamilton and her books, the products of her imagination and hard work, are treasures. I am grateful to her that she has chosen to put her heart and soul into these books. Thank you, ML Hamilton, if you ever happen to read this.