Beautiful Redemption Chapter 8:
The chapter kicks off with Agent Davies pitching a terrible idea to Liis about one of her cases. Classic Agent Davies! I like how her character sometimes shows up in this book where mostly the main characters just talk about how unlikeable and slutty she is!
Davies slapped my desk and stood up. “Just another goddamn bossy…” Her grumbling trailed off as she got closer to my door.
I wonder how she got the unlikeable part of her reputation.
Liis introduces us to something that may or may not be a new subplot. It’s a little unclear, because it gets resolved this same chapter. I bet the real FBI is this efficient.
She explains that the Japanese translators’ reports have had a number of serious mistranslations and omissions. She goes off to their other building where they question persons of interest where Thomas currently is, to tell him her concerns. Aaaand this happens:
“He’s interviewing someone over at the Taliban Welcome Center.”
I frowned. “Really? We’re really going to call it that?”
“It’s what everyone calls it,” she said, shrugging.
Val was referring to [the] security checkpoint for visitors [where] we would question persons of interest. That way, if they or their friends attempted to bring explosives in, the main building wouldn’t be at risk.
Someone had dubbed this checkpoint as the Taliban Welcome Center, and for some bizarre reason, the nickname had stuck.
Yeah. Sorry, guys. This is gonna be a section with zero jokes.
So this joke seriously rubs me the wrong way, but I couldn’t figure out why, and talked with some friends about it. The first thing they pointed out was that the joke fell flat, and then we started talking about how narrow-minded it was. Why is it just the Taliban? The Taliban certainly aren’t great, I’m not arguing that, but why is the joke focused exclusively on Muslims? There’s a nasty implication that this interrogation room is exclusively for Muslims, that that’s the only background that persons of interest come from. Which, worryingly, isn’t an inaccurate reflection of anti-Muslim sentiment in the American national mood. Which is a weird thing to make a joke about?
It gets close by having Liis (briefly) protest the name, but the section ends with a lighthearted “for some reason, the name stuck”. “For some reason” is a delightful phrase that exclusively means that everyone knows the reason why something got to where it is. Liis isn’t really protesting that this joke is a bit problematic – she’s winking and nudging elbows. It’s just uncomfortable.
Conveniently, Liis finds Thomas observing said translator questioning someone.
“How long has he been at it?”
“Not long. The subject has been cooperating.”
I listened to them conversing in Japanese. Immediately, I frowned. […] “I need your permission to speak with him.”
“For the Yakuza case? […] Your function here is confidential.”
Right, I forgot that a central part of the story is that no one knows what the new employee actually does, but they are somehow able to work with her anyway.
“Someone left a stack of his reports on my door. I assumed Grove knew I was also a specialist and wanted me to look them over.”
“Assumptions are dangerous, Liis.”
Really, how does any of this make sense?
Thomas reveals that he gave her the reports, which checks out, since he’s apparently literally her only coworker who knows what she does at work all day. She tells him that she found discrepancies in his reports, that “he’s either shit at Japanese, or he’s unreliable.” Guess which one it is?
When he saw the two of us, he startled but quickly recovered.
“Agent Maddox,” he said in a nasal tone.
Anyone else might have missed the slight trembling in his fingers when he pushed up his glasses.
Apparently it’s no sweat, though.
“How long have you known?” I asked.
“I’ve had my suspicions for at least three months. […] I wanted to bring in someone new, someone better.”
“Someone who wasn’t a double agent?”
Thomas turned to me with the smallest hint of a smile.
Man, it’s one thing when a Jamie McGuire novel is just a bunch of thirsty college kids, but it’s kind of another thing when it’s a bunch of thirsty FBI agents. “Hey, I think we just uncovered an act of treason or a felony or something?” “Oh, you!”
They get caught in the rain during the walk back and keep flirting.
I dodged puddles, inwardly enjoying it when Thomas struggled to keep the umbrella over my head. Finally, he resorted to putting his free hand around my waist and squeezing me to his side. […]
“I have never liked the rain,” Thomas said as we stopped in front of the lobby doors while he shook off his umbrella. “But I might have changed my mind.”
Like every heroine in the first third of a Jamie McGuire novel, Liis doesn’t understand why she’s so overcome with all these feelings!
Being with Jackson had been suffocating, and a transfer had seemed like the perfect solution.
Why in the hell do I feel this way about Thomas? Despite my feelings about starting a new relationship and considering his temper and emotional baggage, what is it about him that makes me lose my ability to reason?
Liis, this is our third Maddox rodeo. We still have no idea.
Speaking of McGuire novel tropes, we’ve often made fun of how all of these books somehow give the main character the most insanely unlikeable best friends. They’re probably intended to be snarky, but they invariably come across as inexplicably awful people. With Val, it’s almost like we’re seeing Jamie McGuire run out of ideas for how to do even that, because even by McGuire novel standards, Val’s conversations make no sense.
“I’d say I’m psychic, but that’s stupid, so I’ll just say, ‘Thank you, Dad, for being a cheating bastard and heightening my bullshit-o-meter.'”
Buckle up. We’re just getting started.
I pulled my hand away and gave her a look.
“What? I tell the truth – unlike you, you… fake, foul friend.”
I wrinkled my nose. “That was harsh.”
“So is knowing that your friend doesn’t trust you. […] And… you’re no longer invited to Fuzzy’s.”
“What?” I shrieked. “C’mon!”
“No. No Fuzzy’s for you. And they love me, Liis. Do you know what that means? No Fuzzy’s for lunch. No Fuzzy’s forever.” [She] turned on her heels before shutting the door behind her. […] Five seconds later, my landline rang, and I picked up the phone.
“Lindy,” I snapped.
“Hurry up. I’m hungry.”
I know that we joke a lot that all of Jamie McGuire’s characters are sociopaths… but what happened there?