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Detective Rynn Callahan is stymied by the rather gruesome murder of a man in her district. The crime scene is devoid of clues and leads are non-existent, making the detective bewildered and frustrated. She’s been working alone since her partner was injured in the line of duty, and she’s not thrilled when her superior assigns her a new partner. The guy’s not very forthcoming about his past and Rynn’s not sure what to make of him. However, all that doesn’t hold a candle to the complications that arise when Toni Davis shows up at the precinct. Just as Rynn is about to call it a day, Toni offers confidential information that may be related to the murder and the encounter puts Rynn in a challenging position. With this new information, Rynn needs to figure out how much to divulge to her new partner and even how much to believe. Not only that, but as time goes by, she needs to reckon what to do with Toni’s bold invitations and her own feelings and responses to the woman who holds so much influence and so many secrets.
Toni is a sports agent who represents some of the biggest names in football and, as the story progresses, Rynn comes to rely on her to help with her investigation by offering insights into the NFL and the competition—and the oppressive atmosphere for gay athletes. As Toni draws Rynn deeper into her life of privilege and high powered professional football, the detective finds her attraction for Toni is turning into something special, but she’s reluctant to give in to the feelings with the initial case still unsolved and more bodies stacking up. Besides, she’s not very comfortable with the high society parties, especially when she meets an NFL owner’s wife who seems to look down her nose at almost everyone. Between Rynn’s discomfort, the conflict of interest and the confidentiality, things get more complex than Rynn would like, yet she can’t seem to distance herself from Toni.
When Rynn recognizes two cases with similarities, she realizes that they might have a serial killer on their hands making solving the case even more urgent than before. But Rynn still can’t figure out what information ties the murders together in order to get a bead on the killer. The only thing she can do is try to figure out who the next victim might so she can warn them, and for that, she needs to know who else in the NFL is gay—and for that, she needs Toni again.
In the midst all the tension and turmoil, Rynn realizes that Toni may have decided to take matters into her own hands and gotten herself into a heap of trouble and Rynn might not be able to get her—or Rynn herself—out of the mess, and Rynn realizes that if she can’t crack this case, she may lose a lot: the chance to find the murderer, the opportunity to find true love, and possibly more than one life, including her own.
JJ Greene has written a multifaceted story with characters that make us think about motivations and the backstory of characters. The story builds to a crescendo of tension as the murderer is first revealed. Then it seems as though the good guys will never prevail. A few pink herrings are thrown into the mix as the tale progresses, just to keep the reader a little off-kilter. In the midst of all the commotion, the author sprinkles in an unfolding love story that is filled with just enough delicate tentativeness and apprehension to keep pages turning until the final clue is uncovered and there is a heart-pounding race toward the inevitable finish. First Down is a skillfully written and entertaining first offering by new author JJ Green with just enough twists and turns to intrigue and an ending to satisfy any romance or thriller enthusiast.
By JJ Greene
Paperback, 9781594933622, 266 pp.