Thursday, November 26, 2009

"You Can't Hide" by Karen Rose

Tess Ciccotelli is a psychiatrist whose patients are dying in mysterious circumstances - and she looks like the prime suspect. Detective Aidan Reagan thinks she's a cold-hearted bitch, but slowly comes to change his mind the more he gets to know her. It doesn't take long for the police department to figure out that Tess is being set up. And she's being set up by somebody who obviously really, really hates her. Soon, not only are her patients targets, but so is anybody who knows her - friends, family, mere acquaintances and those who simply have the misfortune to say hello to her.

This being a romantic thriller, much of the focus is on the developing relationship between Tess and Aidan, but I have to admit that it was handled quite well here. The main barrier to their happiness lies in a previous case where Tess gave evidence in court that let a child-killer live out the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution, as opposed to rotting on death row. Aidan discovered the body of the last victim, and can't believe she could help effectively set a killer free. This sort of material is deeper than much of what you find in this genre, so it helped the two characters feel like real people, as opposed to two people who simply get together because that's what's supposed to happen.

The plot is also well-constructed. While there are a few plot strands that simply feel like filler, Rose for the most part delivers a twisty suspense tale. I'm happy to announce that I didn't figure out the identity of the killer - the clues are there, and I was pleased that it all went right over my head.

"You Can't Hide" arrived earlier in Rose's career, and I suspect that might be why it is of a much higher standard than her current work. Since she's now churning out a couple of thrillers a year these days, the quality has slid. Nevertheless, it's always a pleasant surprise to come across something much better than you were expecting it to be. Refreshingly clear of many of the cliches found in the romantic suspense genre, "You Can't Hide" is one that should be hunted down.

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