A week after being shot in Alone in the Dark, and after three years spent deep undercover in a drug- and human-trafficking ring, Special Agent Griffin "Decker" Davenport, wakes up from a medically induced come, determined to tell someone the last important information he'd heard before his cover was blown. That someone happens to be Special Agent Kate Coppola, who's spent the week by his side, listening to his tapes, talking to him, and knitting.
But someone doesn't want Decker to wake up and spilling secrets, despite not knowing just what secrets the agent knows. As far as this shadowy figure is concerned, Davenport is just another loose ends in need of snipping, but luck, or the Amazon warrior of the female agent by his side, won't allow Decker to be snuffed so easily, and soon more and more loose ends appear.
It's up to Decker, Kate and the rest of the Cincinnati crew to tie the loose ends together, and maybe finally unravel the mystery.
Karen Rose remains one of my favorite suspense authors. Although everything happens during the span of just a few days, there's just so much going on, so many side-plots that end up tying up together in the end, propelling the main plot forward, that make the reader "loose the sense of time", making the story appear to happen during a much longer period.
This last installment in her loosely connected "main" series with old characters, or loose ends popping up from time to time, is no different. Well-structured, tightly-plotted, and with a spot-on pacing that is deceptively slow while building momentum for that last desperate dash toward the finishing line, it nicely ties into the previous book, finishing off where it began, tying up those few loose ends that have been plaguing the FBI and CPD for the past week (in book time) and this reader for the past year.
The topic was still horrifyingly chilling, the dealing with the case and its ramifications, especially for the victims, but not less so for the investigators, vividly portrayed with an uncanny realism that prevented the book, despite it being fiction, from descending into sensationalism or "flowery" prose.
This topic is real, things like that do happen, and although not everybody can be saved, those few who can be do count, and the stress and toll it takes on the investigators (be it by having to watch videos that make them die inside every time they do, having to inform a grieving family of the truth, having to dig for and uncover remains, or haying to accept the fact the trail got cold and they never will have the answer or justice for the victims) should not be trivialized. In her books Ms Rose doesn't trivialize or patronize, but offers a realistic, and because of that sometimes horrifying, view of fictionalized (in terms of her books) events that could very well be real (and sometimes are, although reality has a tendency to be even more horrifyingly brutal).
I like her voice, I like her style, and I like her stories because they make you think about the world outside of your own little cushy "reality".
And yes, I like how she writes her characters. Leading and secondary ones. There's depth, there are layers, there are deep (or not so) seated issues, there are scars, and there are (dark) pasts. It's what makes her characters realistic, what makes them so similar to a person one can encounter walking down the street everyday. Yes, the characters are fictitious, but they're not superhuman, they don't have super powers, they're breakable like us. They're human.
I especially liked the humanity in our present hero, Decker. The guy was built like a Sherman tank, he was growly and grouchy, but he had a tender streak a mile wide, a strong protective instinct, and he wasn't ashamed of letting his feelings show (Diesel being right there along for the ride, and I can't wait to read his book, which will hopefully be written soon).
And, as is her uncanny ability to do, Ms Rose offered Decker the perfect heroine in the form, style, and spunky, yet vulnerable despite her better judgment, of Kate Coppola. I liked her in previous books as a supporting character, Deacon Novak's best friend, but I loved her in her own book. I loved seeing behind her tough facade to the woman she was underneath, the woman Decker brought to the forth.
And their romance, despite happening in a blink of an eye (read about the timeline above), worked. Yes, they were both starved of touch, starved for affection, but it didn't feel just physical, I could see them slowly developing feelings for one another, how those feelings deepened and grew (which isn't easy to write, judging from what I've been reading lately), but I especially liked that they didn't fight it, but accepted it and took it in stride.
Less drama, angst and "romantic" conflict leave more time for the actual plot.
Another wonderful book.