Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Loose Ends by Tara Janzen

Another rewarding experience in my whiz bang return to reading was Tara Janzen's Loose Ends. This was book 11--and the final book--in Janzen's Steele Street series. Aside from Robb's cops, the Steele Street boys have been the only other cast of characters to drive me out into the cold night--straight to Walmart for the next one or three books in a series. Once I read book one, I had to catch up right then, to the exclusion of all other titles or authors. They were that memorable, that engaging. Particularly Superman, likely the most memorable hero in my last 10 years of reading.

I've kept up with this series throughout the years and will admit there were some that didn't grip as hard as others. Common among them all however, was a humor among the men that rivaled Brockmann's SEALs and an adoration of all things female that set Janzen's men well and truly apart from the rest. There is simply nothing sexier than a man completely enamored of all things "girl". These guys worship every womanly inch and accessory, bringing to mind John Mayer's song Your Body Is A Wonderland.

So Superman is my fave, yes. But J.T.? Wow. In Loose Ends, Janzen brings him home. It was as powerful as I expected. Like Robb and Brockmann, Janzen allowed her characters to lend truth to the story. Hard to explain my thought here, but it is her established characters--acting in character--that set the stage and dictate the events. They encounter J.T. right at the beginning of the book (leaving off from Breaking Loose) and simply take it from there. No backstory or explanation needed to bring the reader into the present moment. And because Janzen's characters are so memorable, I instantly recognized them. All of them. And fell right back in with them with the same ease I pick up Robb's bi-annual In Death releases.

Interestingly, through J.T.'s story, I developed a new appreciation for Gillian, another of Janzen's characters in this series (her story was featured in Crazy Sweet in 2006). In that sense, Janzen's powerful characterization worked in reverse as well as drive. She used it to power this story and revive those that came before it.

I pulled two excerpts or quotes from the book before I put it down--both examples of how Janzen's cast delivered J.T.'s story. In the first, Hawkins (Superman) answers Dylan's concerns about the altered J.T. Here, he gave us the heart of this book:

"Hell, Dylan. If he wanted to hurt people, he would have been throwing fragmentation grenades, not flash bangs." Again Hawkins didn't hesitate. "And Red Dog said he had her dead to rights on the tenth floor, and he obviously didn't pull the trigger. And he didn't hurt Suzi Toussi in Paraguay either. Jane's a burden, an accident that happened in his getaway car. She's not an asset. He came for the girl, and you saw Scout. You can't beat that kind of loyalty into somebody. She's a straight-up girl, fully self-actualized. She's been well cared for and well loved. Whatever J.T. remembers of himself, he hasn't lost his intrinsic guardian tendencies. How many times did he save you?"

In the second, we get that dry humor. Like the first excerpt, you really have to have read this series and know these characters to get the full effect. But for those of you who have, this is Dylan on the phone to Hawkins:

"I want you and Creed to quit dicking around out there and get the damn job done," Dylan said. "Make it so, Superman."

Dicking around?

"Yes, sir."

The radio went silent, and Creed gave him a questioning look. "What's up?"

"We're supposed to quit dicking around."

Creed nodded, "Good idea."

Like I said, a rewarding experience for this exiled reader. A welcome home kind of experience. Felt really really good.

Looking back over my words here, I will apologize to those looking for a review. If you haven't read Janzen, this will be like trying to catch up to the drunks at a party that's been going on for hours. I'd rather steer you to a proper book blurb, pretty cover and helpful link to the Steele Street book list.


Six years ago, the Special Defense Force mourned the loss of J. T. Chronopolous. Now the striking soldier is back with scant memory, a new name—Conroy Farrel—and one single mission: to bring down SDF. But SDF has its own plan: get him back at any cost. And so they’ve set a trap for Con, a trap that Jane Linden accidentally steps into. With darkness falling and the night heating up, Con finds himself on the run in an oddly familiar 1967 Pontiac GTO with a drop-dead-gorgeous brunette named Jane by his side. Who she is he doesn’t know. Or does he? Jane certainly hasn’t forgotten him. When she was a teenager, he caught her picking his pocket. Now the former street thief is all grown up and gone legit—and the effect she has on Con is all too clear: pure, sweet longing. Con’s not sure if Jane is there to save him or to take him down. But one thing’s certain: With desire leading the way, all bets are off.


  1. Totally, totally agree. So I can have Dylan and Creed, then?
    So good to read that story. I kept it for ages as a special treat, then devoured it in a couple of sittings.

  2. BTW, I did a review over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, and it's so similar to yours, it's unreal.

  3. Waving Hi! to Anne :-)

    And Lynne? Your review was fabulous! Much, much better than my random thoughts. And I totally wanted to read it again after your review, lol. Already.

  4. thank you! I'm toying with the idea of starting the series all over again.
    You can have Superman if I can have Creed and Dylan.Sigh.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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