Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Fatal Deception

Fatal Deception
By Marie Force
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 
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?


quantum said...

Marie Force is new to me. I recently read J D Robb's 'Naked in Death' which kept me enthralled throughout .... I expected no less from Nora of course!.

If Force writes with comparable skill and power then I want to try her, starting at the beginning with 'Fatal Affair'. As an added bonus the books are available in audio!

I do like continuing stories and meeting the same characters again ..... just have to remember to start at the beginning. LOL

NB 'Fatal Destiny' and 'Maid for Love' are free at the moment (November)

irisheyes said...

I'm not really sure if I would like the continuing story arc or not. I did try JD Robb's "In Death" series and it just didn't keep me enthralled. My sister swears by it. She even buys all the books in hardcover on release day!

I don't think it was the continuing story arc that turned me off as much as the criminal/suspense aspect of it. It's not my favorite genre.

I suppose the closest thing I can compare it to would be Mel and Jack's continuing story throughout the Virgin River series. And I do enjoy that. So, if Robyn Carr wrote primarily about Mel and Jack's relationship (I suppose it would be at a slower pace and cover a lot shorter time frame in each book) and then threw the other stories in, I would definitely like that.

Nancy Northcott said...

Janga, I can go either way on series versus tidy endings. While I read many, many HEA romances, I also like series like In Death that continue the same couple's adventures. This is more common in mystery than in romance, of course.

PJ Ausdenmore said...

I like both though I read more "tidy endings" than series with continuing characters.

I enjoy Marie Force's writing but I haven't started this series yet. If I can ever catch up with the mountain of books awaiting my attention then I will happily dive into this series!

Janga said...

Q, I really think you'd like the series, and all the Fatal books are on sale. It's a great time to read the series. I haven't read enough of the J. D. Robb books to know if the comparison is accurate, but it is one a lot of people have made.

Janga said...

Irish, one of my friends who is very anti-romance fiction never misses a Robb book. I'm with you in preferring the Nora books. The Robb books are too dark for me. I admit I'm a wimpy reader. :)

I love Carr's Mel and Jack too. I'd be really disappointed if Carr left them out of any of the Virgin River books.

Janga said...

Nancy, I think you're right that the developing relationship over several books is much more common in mystery than in romance. The relationship was an important part of the reason I loved the earliest mystery series I read, those by Dorothy Sayers, Leslie Ford, Rae Foley, and others. I followed Dorothy Simpson's Luke Thanet for twenty-years from the early years of his marriage to his becoming a grandfather in the final book.

Janga said...

PJ, I like the Fatal series more than anything else I've read by Force, although I always find her characters appealing. But some of the contemporaries just have too many hot scenes for my tastes.