>> Friday, September 25, 2009
TITLE: I'm Watching You
AUTHOR: Karen Rose
PUBLISHER: Warner Forever
SETTING: Contemporary Chicago
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: Stands alone, but is related to other books.
REASON FOR READING: Love this author.
Star prosecutor Kristen Mayhew has a dangerous secret admirer. He seems to knows her every thought, her every move. He sends her letters. And he kills the criminals she herself is powerless to stop. This avenger even knows Kristen's deepest secret-the one that has kept her from surrendering her heart to Abe Reagan, the police detective sworn to protect her. Like Kristen, Reagan is haunted by the loss of something precious that can never be regained. But in the shadow of a calculating serial killer, the two turn to each other and dare to rediscover passion...even as the messages and vicious murders continue. Even as the killer's thirst for retribution makes Kristen a target for murder.I've now read most of Karen Rose's books, and I'm Watching You is one of my favourites.
Kristen Mayhew is completely committed to her work as a public prosecutor and devotes her life to putting scum behind bars. But even as great a prosecutor as Kristen doesn't always win, and over the years, some defendants who were guilty as hell have managed to get away on technicalities. Kristen takes this hard, but knows there's nothing she can do about it.
Someone seems to think he can do something about it, though, and one evening, Kristen finds a message in her car from someone calling himself her "Humble Servant". This person has left Kristen photographs of some of those people who've got away with their crimes after Kristen's prosecuted them, and these photographs are very clear in showing that her humble servant has killed them.
Kristen reports this immediately, and the police detective assigned to investigate is Abe Regan. Abe quickly discounts any possibility that Kristen may have had something to do with the murders, and they're soon working together and getting closer and closer to each other as well.
I really, really liked the suspense plot. I suppose like most readers will, I instinctively felt some sympathy for the humble servant and his "work". However, I'm morally completely against vigilantism, and so was happy to see that while Kristen and Abe shared my initial instinctive reaction, and part of them wasn't sorry about what was happening, they both knew that what this person was doing was wrong, and went after him, taking the case extremely seriously.
It would have been interesting to see how the book turned out if that was all there was to it, but I suppose there wouldn't have been much of a sense of urgency if all that was at stake was saving the lives of pedophiles and rapists. The way Rose gets around this is by turning things around and introducing a threat to Kristen and her loved ones. You see, while Abe knows perfectly well that Kristen knows nothing about the identity of this person, some of those who were close to the victims don't have that certainty. In fact, they are convinced they can get to the Humble Servant through her, and are happy to target her and the people close to her. Very smart plotting, and it worked like a charm.
Less successful was the introduction of yet another threat to Kristen, in the form of a predatory journalist whose unscrupulous stories target Kristen and increase the danger from the people mentioned above. I was a bit uncomfortable with the way this woman was portrayed and with her fate. Yes, she did some very bad things, but the punishment was way too severe. Her description was so over-the-top, as well, that it felt as if she was being demonised. For some reason, I picked up a vibe that what she was doing was even more unseemly because she was a woman, and that if it were a man, the same behaviour wouldn't have been so bad. Probably quite a subjective interpretation there, but it was the feeling I got.
Anyway, moving on: as in all Rose's books, there's a great balance between the romance and the case. The romance felt perfectly developed and well done, and the same goes for the mystery. Kristen and Abe both have had events in their past that have left them feeling isolated from the rest of the world, and neither has really recovered from the trauma. But together, they fit, and they begin to heal.
Abe was a sweetheart, for all that he was one tough cop, and I loved his relationship with his family, and the way he brought Kristen in, something she really needed. Kristen was also a great character, someone admirable but who still felt human and fallible (a nitpick, though: it drove me crazy that constantly, when she was with Abe, she'd think something and say it out loud without realising it. It happened WAY too many times -maybe one would have been believable, but not so many! Ahem.)
All in all, it was the very best sort of romantic suspense. Yes, the identity of the Humble Servant wasn't particularly hard to guess (not many possibilities, plus, a great big clue right at the beginning), and the characterisation is sometimes not the most subtle, but I found myself completely absorbed and loving every minute. It's a very long book, much longer than what's usually coming out, but I didn't feel like it dragged even for a minute.
MY GRADE: A B+.