A CSIG Review by J. S. Rogers
“The Scent of Fear is the first novel in a trilogy about the pursuit, capture, and prosecution of a serial sniper at the center of a multi-generational conspiracy to forever change the seat of power in the United States.”
– Tom Adair
As one of my blog’s stated purposes, I want the truth of Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) known; not that which popular media pushes. As a matter of habit, I keep an eye out for new CSI type novels. I stumbled across The Scent of Fear by retired Crime Scene Investigator Tom Adair. Being a CSI guy, I found myself drawn to this book mainly because another CSI guy wrote it. When I say a CSI guy (CSIG), I mean someone who has frequently had his boots on the ground behind the barrier tape.
There is a vast array of books using CSI as the main background. Some are decent and some very are far from reality. Many based on knowledge gained from interviews with CSIG’s, or minimal experience in the field or lab. But they are not actually written by a CSIG.
I admit starting to read The Scent of Fear with some intrepidity. I did not want to be disappointed as I had after reading other CSI type novels. However, in this case, I found myself fairly satisfied as I closed the last page.
I am basing this review on my professional and personal experience in five categories.
- The realism of the CSI aspects of the story.
- The realism/believability of characters and how they react to plot devices.
- The realism/believability of the interaction between characters.
- The emotions the characters invoke in the reader.
- The overall enjoyment I had reading the story.
Adair is spot on in the crime scene aspects of the story. His crime scenes are well plotted and rational within the story. His descriptions of the equipment and techniques used are what I would expect from a seasoned CSIG, meaning accurate.
The characters are multidimensional and realistic. They react and interact with the other characters and plot devices well. I have worked with these people (or at least reasonable facsimiles of them) at many crime scenes.
I found myself drawn in quickly to the characters, especially Sarah Richards and Doc. I felt empathy as they dealt with friend and foe. I enjoyed the character interaction throughout the story and found myself wanting more when the last page turned. You can check Sarah out at: www.facebook.com/pages/CSI-Sarah-Richards/295465267169586.
My overall enjoyment of the novel prevented the review from being five-star. The graphic descriptions and quantity of crude language exceeded my personal quota. I would definitely give this novel a NC-17 rating. I am not saying their use in the story is not realistic, because it is. I have seen and heard similar, or worse, at crime scenes I have worked. I just don’t enjoy so much of it in in my personal entertainment.
In summary, Tom Adair has crafted a fine CSI story in The Scent of Fear (for adult readers). It is full of strong characters, adventure, action, romance, and of course factual CSI. Regardless of the negative aspect I mentioned above, I look forward to the reading rest of the trilogy.
I give The Scent of Fear a CSIG rating: 4 out of 5 stars.