The wife being a communist twist that you mentioned would have been interesting...however I dont think that would have been possible with his military background though. If they made him out to be a little of a seedier and sketchier character earlier on then maybe I think it could have worked.
Yea the game did start out nice and slow just like a detective game should be but then it did become too much GTA style game.
On a side note, I was terrible at driving. I hit everything! And i mean everything!!---I would have to restart so many chase scenes because I would clip a curb and then get stuck and not be able to reverse or get going fast enough before the bad guy got away.
I was just terrible at driving...once I got the achievement for driving like 194 miles...I then made my partner drive everywhere else---didnt help on the chase scenes but everything else it made better