Friday, January 15, 2010

Sun, Sand and Serial Killers

Beachcomber
By Karen Robards

Christy Petrino grew up on the periphery of organized crime. Her father was gunned down in a mob hit that she witnessed as a child. Her mother’s advice to her was to always have a gun handy. Christy decided that this was not the life she wanted, so she tried to avoid the criminal element in her family and her Philadelphia neighborhood and eventually graduated from law school. Then she took a job for Michael DePalma’s law firm. Christy presumed that Michael, like her, was someone who wanted to live life on the straight and narrow in spite of his family connections to the local mob. Oops – slight miscalculation on Christy’s part, but she doesn’t figure that out until she’s engaged to the man. When she confronts him, he admits the truth and ensures her silence by making her an offer she can’t refuse: she can deliver a briefcase (contents unknown) for him, or put her own life and that of her family at risk. Once she’s made the delivery, she’s implicated in a crime, and can’t say anything or her career and reputation are done for, so Michael is counting on the fact that she’ll keep her mouth shut. Thus when we meet Christy she is on Okracoke Island off the coast of Carolina, having delivered the briefcase and awaiting further instructions. She’s taking a late night walk on the beach when an unshakeable sense of menace sends her running for home, fearing she’s being stalked by a hit man. She stumbles over an injured young woman on the sand, but her fear propels her home to her cottage to call for help. There she stumbles into the arms of Luke Rand, her new neighbor. Luke professes to be just another vacationer looking for his cat, but he starts asking a lot of pointed questions. He may be a hottie, but Christy can’t trust him, or anybody, as she tries to figure out if her experience on the beach is the result of a botched hit or an accidental encounter with a serial killer. Luke is keeping a few secrets of his own, but as his interest in Christy grows more personal, he decides protecting her is just as important as figuring out what’s going on.

This is the first Karen Robards book I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it. The story is well plotted, with lots of twists and red herrings, and is paced at a breakneck speed. The action is fast and furious, and if it is sometimes as over-the-top as one of the Bourne Identity films, it’s so much fun you don’t really care! Though I really felt that Christy was more than a little na├»ve given her family background, I could let it go because her actions were pretty believable during the course of the story. Luke is a likeable hero, and the secondary cast of characters is great. This is good, solid romantic suspense, and I would definitely read more by this author.

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