I need to preface this review by confessing that I love Karen Rose’s books. I discovered them several years ago and read as many as I could get my hands on.
I love that they’re linked… not through a series about the same characters however, but through related characters. So each book will focus on people who may have played peripheral roles in another book in the series. It means it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read its predecessors and usually Rose doesn’t give away too much information about previous cases…. in the event readers want to read older books in the series.
I also love that she includes a map of sorts on her site and many years ago in the throes of my Karen Rose -reading-obsession I printed this (well, a previous version) so I could work out what I’d read and how they were connected.
A few years has passed however, since I’ve read one of her books so I was hugely excited when I received Alone in the Dark, the second in a new series.
And that – dear readers – is a very long-winded way of explaining that any disappointment I felt after reading this book is more of a result of my expectations than the book itself.
A desperate hunt to find a young girl’s killer is about to turn deadly…
Former Army Ranger Marcus O’Bannion and homicide cop Scarlett Bishop have met only briefly but when Scarlett receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she immediately recognises the hauntingly smooth voice asking her to meet him in one of Cincinnati’s roughest areas.
On arriving, Scarlett finds the body of a seventeen-year-old Asian girl and Marcus injured. A fierce champion of victims’ rights, Marcus claims the young woman was working for an affluent local family and the last time he saw her she was terrified, abused, and clearly in need of help. Having agreed to meet her, both Marcus and the young woman were targeted for death.
As they investigate, Scarlett and Marcus are pulled into the dangerous world of human trafficking where they soon realise they are going to have to become as ruthless as those they are hunting.
As usual Rose does a wonderful job with her characters. Scarlett is brittle but kind-hearted. She feels she doesn’t measure up in the eyes of her cop-dominated family. Marcus can appear harsh but is also a softie, fighting for the underdog and protecting his family at all costs. They met in the first book of this series and have (of course) each been carrying a torch for the other in the nine months since. (The first book focused on Scarlett’s partner, Deacon and Marcus’s cousin, Faith. Well, and murders and stuff… but ultimately there’s always a romance / pairing underpinning these books.)
Rose also does a great job with the support cast and I guess that’s because she gets to spend a bit of time with them and has already worked out who will feature in her next book. (I’m thinking Diesel and the doctor who works at the homeless shelter*. Or Stone and Delores. #justsayin)
Rose’s novels often touch on issues of domestic violence and violence against women and children and it’s obviously a passion of hers. She handles the issues of child pornography and human trafficking very sympathetically in this novel and I love the way she (positively) portrays the various arms of law enforcement who are investigating this atrocity.
Other than an annoying extended sex scene (I hate sex scenes!) my only real qualm with this novel was that the case became a tad convoluted. We learn details about Marcus’s family’s past and I kept waiting for the relevance to become obvious (in terms of the current case). On top of this, the baddies’ determination to target Marcus at the expense of everything else, didn’t ultimately make sense to me. I kept thinking there had to be some other underlying reason….
At about 600 pages this book is long and I would have edited out a few more of the scenes involving the baddies as (again, for me) they became somewhat tiresome.
However… Rose reeled me in as usual through the wonderful characters she created. She knows what readers like and even if we try to deny it, we love a man who’ll fight for the underdog and tough women with kind hearts. On top of which she’s a great storyteller.
Alone in the Dark by Karen Rose was released in Australia by Hachette on 11 November 2015.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
* Forgot to check names before lending this book to my mother!