Book review: Alone in the Dark by Karen Rose

Friday, November 13, 2015 Permalink

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.

The blurb

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.

alone in the dark

My thoughts

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!

  • Stormi D Johnson
    November 13, 2015

    It sounds like it’s got a lot of filler in it that could have been trimmed down, but it does sound interesting. I just don’t know a lot of mystery/suspense novels that are that long…ugh.

    • Debbish
      November 13, 2015

      I obviously still very much enjoyed it Stormi but it did stretch on a little. Fabulous characters though.

  • Red Iza
    November 14, 2015

    My first book by her was Watch your back and I’m afraid I didn’t finish it, it was a long book too… I’ll give her another chance, though 🙂

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2015

      Most of the others I’ve read haven’t been this long Izabel, so this was unusual for me. I actually thought (at one point) the main crime was going to be solved mid-way through and we’d move onto something else which had come up. But that wasn’t the case.

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    November 14, 2015

    Your lucky Mum getting the books after you’ve read them. You two must have some interesting discussions. My mother’s a voracious reader although she has a slightly different taste to mine.

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2015

      I recently gave a couple I didn’t think mum would like to someone else and I’ve bypassed her a couple of times and handed a book onto my brother when we’ve visited. Mum has a massive pile and my ultimate aim is to donate books to the local women’s shelter or another group her church is involved with (even their op shop) after she’s read them. I write my name in some that I want to keep.

      It’s funny as once upon a time I was ferocious about my books. I kept everything and was very nervous about letting anyone (outside of my family) borrow them, but I’m a bit more zen about that now.

      I like the idea of them going to someone who needs them though… I have some YA novels for a young girl I met at a book event a little while ago (who I have to track down through her high school), but I also have a couple I’d like to take to a local backpacker haunt.

      I get these books for free so obviously I can’t / wouldn’t sell them and I don’t want to prevent authors from getting revenue by passing them on TOO much, but I remember travelling and how starved I sometimes was for reading fodder. ( Though of course that was in the 1990s pre-Kindle etc)

  • MarthaE
    November 16, 2015

    I read a couple of her earlier romantic suspense novels and liked them. But I too get annoyed when the sex scenes become too much without moving the story forward. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this latest novel.

    • Debbish
      November 16, 2015

      I completely agree Martha. There was (thankfully) only one overly long scene. I like a little romance in my thrillers etc but it’s a balance which is hard to reach.

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