Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book Review: Point of Control by L.J. Sellers

Not Your Stereotypic Heroine…Or At Least, Not the Stereotype You’d Expect

It’s not a spoiler to say that Andra Bailey, FBI agent and protagonist of Point of Control is a sociopath.  It’s right there in the third sentence of the author’s synopsis.  And the reason I want to mention it is because it was a factor that made this book so enjoyable to me.

If you’re a mystery/thriller fan, you probably know a number of protagonists that fit the description of a sociopath – intelligent, risk-takers, charming but without really caring what others think.  But knowing at the outset that Bailey was one and seeing how Sellers worked that into the story was fascinating.  For example, like many thrillers, there’s a romantic element, and like many, the kiss seemed to come from nowhere.  Generally, I figured the author just glossed over the emotion to get back to the action, but with Bailey?  She was experimenting with an unexpected connection to another human.  Interesting.  There were places where I felt Sellers might have gone a bit too far, e.g., Bailey seemed to read other people’s emotional traits almost at a glance (“Bailey studied his face, looking for signs of deceptiveness, and found none. Weakness, yes. He was emotional and eager to please.”).  That ability seems well beyond charming and manipulative.  And why did she suffer from topographical disorientation (a tendency to become lost easily)?  So, she wouldn’t be a stereotypic sociopath?

But Bailey’s personality aside, the book is a solid crime thriller.  The pace is good, as our heroine jets across the country chasing her suspects and sustaining herself with coffee and naps on planes.  The story is propelled in places by discoveries that seem a bit too convenient.  Why, for example, did Bailey focus on cellphone CEOs when rare earth metals are used throughout the electronics industry?  The attempt on Bailey’s life early in the book, when she was pursuing a very speculative connection between missing scientists also gave me pause.  The bad guy’s attack proved her right and would have brought in even more agents had they succeeded.  What were they thinking?  But overall, the plot flowed well.  There is also an excellent twist at the end that clarifies a few discordant threads – it’s all tied up with a bow by the time Sellers finishes the book.

Overall, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable novel, in part for the way Bailey’s personality was woven into the story, but mainly because it was just plain good story-telling.

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