Review: Burning Proof (Janice Cantore)

burning proof coverThis ebook was provided by the publisher for review purposes, but all opinions given below are my own.

I was quite excited to resume Detective Abby Hart’s story in this sequel to Drawing Fire. In the opening book of the series, I felt I’d grown close to Abby and private investigator friend Luke. (I love when book characters become my new friends!)

As expected, I also enjoyed the second journey with Abby and Luke. The challenges and adventure they faced in Burning Proof felt realistic, so the tale unfolded naturally with a good pace.

I liked where this book ended as well, leaving room for a continuation of the overall story arc of Abby and Luke solving a cold case that is personal to both, yet not leaving all of the questions to be answered in whichever book will (sadly) finish the series. Cantore knows what she’s doing in crafting these stories with great timing.

I’m definitely looking forward to Abby and Luke’s next adventure!

As a special treat, here is a Q&A with Janice:

What inspired you to become a police officer after you graduated from college?
I really didn’t know what to do after I graduated college. I was working as an athletic trainer, at a sports medicine clinic but really didn’t like it. I had a degree in physical education and was studying for a master’s degree at Long Beach State in exercise physiology. I worked out a lot and met a lot of people training to take physical agility tests for both firefighting and law enforcement jobs. It looked like a challenge, and after taking a class in criminal justice; I decided to test for police officer. Back then there were usually a couple thousand people applying for 30 openings at any given city. Most people applied at several places. I did, passed several tests, and made it all the way with Long Beach. I
wasn’t certain I’d like it, but I did, and stayed.

Tell us what spurred you on to became a writer after you retired from 22 years as a Long Beach Police Officer.
I’ve always wanted to write. When I was a kid I wrote horse stories. I took a creative writing class in college and my teacher really wasn’t very encouraging so I just put the desire on the shelf. It wasn’t until I’d been an officer for a few years and experienced the Rodney King riots that the desire to write took hold again. I tried writing stories about the riots, trying to convey all the emotions I felt at the time. Those stories never went anywhere, but I realized that I had a lot of stories in me and began writing, going to conferences and really working on the craft.

You say that one lesson that has stayed with you from your days with the LBPD is that bad things can happen to anyone, yet emerging from the bad can make people stronger and better. Can you explain this statement?
Attitude and faith are everything. I saw a couple lose their nine-month-old baby in a traffic accident yet come back stronger as a couple and as parents because they believed in God and that he was in control in spite of the tragic loss. It wasn’t easy for them to move forward, but they knew that bitterness would only divide them so in the end their marriage was stronger. I also saw a woman who, while in college, had been shot in the back by a boyfriend and was paralyzed from the waist down. She picked herself up go back to school and eventually become a prosecuting attorney while sitting in a wheelchair. I think when something bad happens to us, coming through the situation makes us stronger if we don’t dwell on feelings of self-pity or unforgiveness.

You have quite a testimonial that came after you witnessed a horrific car accident on the job. Can you share with us how that accident changed your faith?
That was the car accident where the young couple lost their nine-month-old son. The baby died before the firemen cut the mother out of the car. At the time I was a nominal Christian, but that accident stayed with me for a long time. About a year later I saw an article in the paper about that couple. It was in the faith column and the couple shared how the horrific loss of their son devastated them. But because they we both believers, they leaned into the cross and came out stronger. That made me realize that I really never knew what was going on in the lives of the people I contacted. As a Christian I know the Lord is always working, but I wasn’t really connecting that to my work. I began to look at people differently, and after that crash, I prayed a lot more for the people I came into contact with on the job.

How did you come up with the idea for your Cold Case Justice series, Drawing Fire and Burning Proof?
I love the program “Castle,” that was where the idea came from. I tweaked it, developed Luke and Abby, and went from there.

Are either of your characters Abby or Luke modeled after anyone you encountered during your days at the LBPD?
Not really. They are at most composites of people I worked with or came across.

As you reveal in Burning Proof, there are many struggles and stresses that come with being a police officer. You have certainly seen what a fatal event can do to the psyche of an officer, can you share what often goes on from an insider’s point of view?
Tragedy can become routine. There needs to be a way to separate yourself from the situation, do your job, and not let the tragedy take you with it. I remember once, I was working the information desk at the downtown station so I didn’t personally handle the call, but officers responded to a horrible call, a man had drowned his two young children in the tub and then tossed their bodies into the dumpster behind his residence. It was a huge deal and I fielded many calls from news agencies. At the information desk I was tasked with giving out whatever public information we had to the press, or anyone who inquired. This meant I had to talk about the event over and over an it began to get aggravating. The press wanted details we couldn’t give and they just kept calling. At one point the press officer, who’d been working many hours overtime, came to the front desk to ask me about the calls and to get some help with the press release. In police work DB means ‘dead body’ and it’s a commonly used abbreviation. Well, the bodies had been recovered from a dumpster, so they became dumpster babies, the abbreviation DB hit us right between the eyes and we began to laugh about the initials, the kind of punch drunk laughing that happens when you’re too tired and too stressed. It was not a funny situation, but sometimes you got so close to bad stuff that laughter was the only way to relieve the pressure. The pressure does need to be relieved, too many officers commit suicide because they internalize all the negative.

Thanks again to Janice Cantore for a great read! 🙂


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