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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

‘Say No More’ by Karen Rose

Published by Headline,
6 August 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-6570-8 (HB)

Karen Rose clearly has a big story arc planned for the characters in her new mini-series set in Sacramento. The plot of Say No More follows hot on the heels of the series opener, Say You’re Sorry, and begins just a few weeks after the dramatic events that set things moving in this, the seventh crime-ridden world she has created.

In Say You're Sorry the focus was on FBI agent Gideon Reynolds and radio presenter Daisy Dawson, and Gideon's troubled childhood in a brutal religious cult. This time it shifts to Mercy Callahan, Gideon’s long-lost sister who also escaped from the cult, and Detective Rafe Sokolov, currently recovering from a serious injury he sustained in the earlier investigation.

The cult is still very much centre stage, as the FBI and Sacramento Police Department join forces to track down Ephraim Burton, one of its leaders, who is hunting Mercy down and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. The cult is deeply corrupt, no one more so than Ephraim and his arch-enemy DJ Belmont, who will both go to any lengths to get what they want: total control over the huge amount of money the cult has conned out of its members.

In the best Rose style, there’s a large cast of characters based both in Sacramento and in Eden, as the cult is ironically named. The large Sokolov family welcome emotionally scarred Mercy into their midst as they did Gideon, and it’s not only the Sokolov sons who are cops who have a part to play in bringing Ephraim down. In addition, FBI agent Tom Hunter is back, and a rookie journalist and his mother who are soon taken under the expansive Sokolov wing despite a bad start. And Mercy’s friend Farrah and her cop fiancé, visiting from New Orleans, hint at yet another potential Rose mini-series. Still trapped in Eden are Amos, Mercy’s stepfather, and his cute natural daughter Abigail, who see the light and have their own part to play. Every one of these supporting players is warm and real, and made me almost believe Karen Rose was simply describing people she knows.

As the hunt for Ephraim intensifies and the body count continues to rise, the qualities which make Rose’s hefty books so unputdownable are firmly in place. She ramps up the tension by jump-cutting from one scenario to another. There’s the usual quota of mind-blowing sex. The locations, from the Sokolovs’ warm, inviting home to a chilly forest clearing, are vivid. Even the minor characters feel real. And though it all ends satisfyingly enough, there are a few loose ends to tie up in the next 500-plus page instalment.

Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago and now Sacramento. Wherever Karen Rose takes her willing readers next, I want to be there.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Karen Rose was born 29 July 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 twenty-four more novels. Karen lives in Florida with her husband of twenty years and their children. When she's not writing, she enjoys travelling, karate and, though not a popular Florida pastime, skiing.

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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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