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Wednesday 11 August 2021

‘Say Goodbye’ by Karen Rose

Published by Headline,
8 August 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-4423-9 (HB)

For Karen Rose’s latest 600-page thriller, the action remains in and around Sacramento, California, as it was in the previous two volumes in this, her seventh mini-series. The FBI are still hunting multiple serial killer D J Belmont and seeking the secret and ever-shifting location of the evil cult called Eden, where children are routinely raped and women are chained chattels.  

This time the romantic focus is on FBI tech expert Tom Hunter and former military medic Liza Barkley, who, in true Karen Rose style, have adored each other from afar since childhood but are having trouble convincing themselves. Tom is in the forefront of the search for Belmont and Eden, especially when he learns of a pregnant teenager who is in their clutches, and Liza gets involved almost by accident.

Familiar faces abound from the previous two volumes. On the side of the angels are Gideon Reynolds and Mercy Callahan, Amos and his adorable seven-year-old daughter Abigail, all escapees from Eden; the warm, protective Sokolov family; rookie journalist Jeff Bunker; acerbic special agent in charge Molina, recused from the case because of injury but still determinedly involved; Pebbles the over-affectionate Great Dane; and various others, some new, some not, all of who serve to people a world which feels as real as my home town.

The settings in that world are as lifelike as the characters: the Sokolovs’ large and welcoming home; the cosy adjoining houses Tom and Liza live in; the luxurious rehab clinic Pastor is sent to. Each is as different as can be from the others, but all are drawn with cinematic vividness.

And then there’s Eden, austere bordering on primitive, a world no sensible person wants to visit, much less inhabit. Brother Joshua and Rebecca, his head wife (the cult is polygamous) represent its worst face, Hayley the pregnant girl, her young brother Graham and gentle Sister Tamar its best. Then there’s Pastor, the charismatic leader and D J Belmont’s nemesis; he is severely injured, triggering a whole new direction for Karen Rose’s complex plot.

As the body count rises and one lead after another proves fruitless for the FBI, questions abound. Will D J, who is as clever as he is evil, outwit his pursuers? Whose side is Pastor’s wife Coleen on? Can Tom Hunter track down the location of Eden before Hayley gives birth? And on the lighter side, will Tom and Liza ever get it together, and if they do, who will win the Sokolovs’ sweepstake?

It adds up to a rollercoaster ride in which Karen Rose’s many fans will find plenty that’s familiar, but also lots to keep them reading into the small hours, as I did. And for readers new to the series and the author, there’s enough backstory and explanation to ensure it all makes sense – and to send them out to seek more by this top-class crime writer. For myself, I can’t wait for the next one.
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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