By Marie Force
Publisher: Carina Press
November 12, 2012
D. C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland and her husband Senator Nick Cappuano are settling into their life as one of the city’s celebrity couples when another of Sam’s cases intersects with their personal lives. Victoria Kavanaugh, wife of White House Deputy Chief of Staff and friend of Nick, Derek Kavanaugh, has been beaten to death, and the couple’s thirteen-month-old daughter has disappeared. For once, the spouse is not a suspect. Derek was at Camp David with his boss, the President of the United States, when the murder occurred. The crime seems motiveless until Sam and her team begin to uncover Victoria’s secrets.
Heartbroken for Derek, Sam has to face additional complications with a cold case involving her father that forces her to suspend Detectives Jeannie McBride and Will Tyrone just when she needs them most. Then there’s the pressure of working the Kavanaugh case with Special Victims Unit Detective Ramsay and FBI Special Agent Avery Hill. The former dislikes Sam, and the latter likes her too much, a fact that provokes Nick’s jealousy and possessiveness.
On the personal front, Sam is fighting with her dad, discovering her estranged mom’s story may involve more than Sam ever suspected, and trying to control her envy of her sister Angela who is about to give birth to her second child. Meanwhile, Nick’s campaign is proving successful beyond their dreams, and it becomes clear his party has bigger things in mind for him. Most important for Sam and Nick, they are preparing for a three-week visit from Scotty Dunlap, the twelve-year-old they are hoping to adopt. It’s Scotty’s visit that persuades them they need a personal assistant to organize their lives and be there for Scotty when they can’t be. Reenter Shelby Faircloth, also known as Tinker Bell, the wedding planner.
I’ve been a fan of Force’s Fatal series from the beginning. The mystery is always a page-turner, often with the added fascination of political contexts, but it is the characters that have made this one of my favorite series. I love Sam and Nick. They are richly developed protagonists with complex personal histories, complicated relationships, terrific chemistry, and an emotional connection that manages to be both stable and evolving. The secondary characters, who include family members, friends, and professional colleagues, are dynamic and interesting in their own right and add dimension to Sam and Nick.
This is the fifth book in the series, the second since Fatal Destiny, the novella in which Sam and Nick were married. I confess I worried that the series might suffer from the Moonlighting syndrome after the wedding, especially when Fatal Flaw, Book 4, although a solid read, lacked that extra something that made the earlier books more than just good. But Fatal Deception proved my fears were groundless. The mystery in this one is a compelling story that presents a challenge and stirs the reader’s emotions, and the relationship between Sam and Nick continues to grow. All that kept this from being a five-star read for me was the kinky sex. I’m sure some readers will see it as a significant part of the novel’s appeal, but it added nothing to the story and was just too bandwagony for my taste. But it wasn’t enough to cure my Sam-and-Nick addiction. I eagerly await future books. I’m hoping Dr. Harry Flynn will get a happy romance, and I’d love to see something develop between Shelby and Avery Hill.
Like J. D. Robb’s In Death series, to which Force’s Fatal books are often compared, the series follows the relationship of the same characters, and story arcs often carry over from one book to the next. Do you like continuing stories, or do you prefer a tightly resolved ending?