Trigger - Jessica L. Webb What's scarier than a person wearing a bomb? A person who IS a bomb! Completely organic. Absolutely undetectable. A weaponized human body that can be triggered by a simple touch.

One such human walks into the Vancouver ER of chief resident, Dr. Kate Morrison. Unaware of any danger but sensing the man's need for immediate medical assistance, Kate proceeds to tend to him, until she is abruptly stopped by RCMP sergeant Andy Wyles from touching him.

Kate is stunned at the sergeant's disclosure: there is more than one of them running around. Someone may be creating an army of human bombs. Because of Kate's special situation, she is quickly drafted to assist in the top secret investigation. Sgt Andy Wyles proves to be a very perceptive cop and fiercely protective of Kate's safety. As the investigation takes them up and down the US/Canadian border, Kate gradually begins to trust the sergeant with not just her life, but the most secretive details of her difficult past, all the while racing against the clock to figure out how to defuse the human bombs before another one is triggered.

Unlike other lesfic thrillers I've read, Trigger is written entirely from Kate's limited third person point of view. Every action and reaction, every character, every event is seen through Kate's eyes. The result is a stark, gritty and claustrophobic atmosphere that permeates the entire book. Kate's characterization is stunningly heartfelt and authentic. The downside to this treatment is that if Kate isn't in the thick of the action (and many times she isn't), we only get second-hand updates, sometimes, long after the fact.

There is a stretch, in the middle third of the book, where the adrenaline junkie in me missed the action. At times, I felt myself wishing for something, anything to happen. In hindsight, this is where you see the author show exceptional discipline and restraint in her plotting. She could have gone and put Kate more in the thick of things just to crank up the thrills (which would then of course be quite cinematic but terribly unrealistic because she is just the doc and it's Andy who's the cop) but in these quiet moments, she chose to beautifully explore Kate's difficult past and her efforts to come to terms with it, and slowly but surely develop her friendship with and feelings for the enigmatic Sgt. Andy Wyles. I also didn't mind that we see Andy entirely through Kate's eyes. It was frustrating initially, since Andy is all-business, the strong, silent type, and wound tighter than 10-day clock. But everything the author does is deliberate. Makes for some wonderful angst near the end.

The book also does a fairly competent job of showing the plausibility of a human bomb to a layman, from the arming to the delivery and trigger. (Of course, it could have been complete BS and I wouldn't have been the wiser.) I'm not a medical professional so I have no idea if it's actually going to work the way it's described. But it sounds doable and that works for me. I did find it strange that the book never mentions the name of the two compounds that make up the bomb components, nor did it ever mention how touch was used as a trigger. OTOH, Kate's special situation her synthetic-skinned hands that allowed her to be the hero in this book, now that was ingenious!

Don't expect the romance meter to be anything on the same level as our usual lesfic romances, at least, not while its still simmering. This is a very realistic portrayal. Our heroic doctor and the tightly-wound cop are in the mission of their lives, in great danger and in a race to save countless others. So all that sexual tension and attraction just simmers below the surface. It is all very subtle and subdued. The gentle banter, the longing looks, the little gestures...blink and you'll miss them. But they speak just as loud as words. It will come to a boil eventually, don't worry, this is BSB, after all. ;) Sorry, that was mildly spoilerish but I don't want to turn off potential readers just cause they think there is no payback at the end. In fact, everything comes together perfectly at the end. I don't think I've read a more well-written conclusion to a book. It's a perfect storm of action, drama, thrills, twists and angst.

5 stars

Note: ARC received from Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books