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Friday 2 December 2016

‘Every Dark Corner’ by Karen Rose

Published by Headline,
3 November 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-7553-9005-2 (HB)

People-trafficking, drugs, child abuse, painful and bloody murder... Not really the stuff of romantic suspense, most people would agree. So if you’re new to Karen Rose’s work, and sample it on the basis of that description on Google, you may be a little taken aback.

The two lead characters of Every Dark Corner do form a meaningful relationship, and a couple of pretty steamy sex scenes certainly ensue, but two scenes and some yearning eye contact do not make a sub-genre. Like the two preceding volumes of Rose’s Cinncinati series, this book is as hard-boiled as hard-boiled gets; the villain is the nastiest of bad guys, the FBI and Cincinnati police work their butts off to track him down, and they way he treats his victims is enough to curdle a stronger stomach than mine.

Special Agents Kate Coppola and Decker Davenport met under unusual circumstances at the end of the previous volume: she jumped from a tree and stuck a rifle in his back, and he finished up in a coma, though not as a result of one of her bullets. Having broken one people-trafficking operation, they now need to dig even deeper, to identify and catch the next, even nastier link in the chain.

They have a lot of help from other FBI agents, as well as some of the protagonists of the earlier books, but it’s a complex procedure which takes close to a quarter of a million words to complete. You’ll need to set aside quite a few hours, because once you start, you’ll want to find out how they achieve their objective. Rose is a mistress of the page-turner; those 600 pages are pacy, action-packed and structured in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Cincinnati is an American city like many others, but locations like the luxurious safe house Decker recuperates in are brought skilfully to life. Rose’s main talents, though, are telling a rattling good tale and juggling her large cast deftly and in a way which turns them into real people. The good guys all have plenty of emotional depth; Kate Coppola knits and does origami to calm her PTSD and soothe her nightmares. I especially liked Diesel, computer hacker extraordinaire (a skill he only uses for good), and phobic about hospitals, but glued to the bedside of injured Dani, for whom he has a decidedly soft spot. Even the minor players jump off the page: Agent Triplett, for instance, a man-mountain with an angel’s face and a heart of gold.

Romantic suspense? Maybe a little. A storyline for the faint-hearted? Probably not. A great book for a damp winter afternoon? Definitely!
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Karen Rose was born 29 July 29 1964 at Baltimore, Maryland USA. She was educated at the University of Maryland. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.” Her debut suspense novel, Don't Tell, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published fifteen more novels and two novellas. Alone in the Dark is her seventeenth novel.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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