Body of Evidence
Mara Garrett, our heroine in Body of Evidence, begins in a bad place. She is a forensic archaeologist, who has dedicated her life to searching for the remains of American soldiers who were lost or have died in combat. Mara graduated from Stanford, is beloved by the media, and is the niece of a former Vice-President. Unfortunately, she is also soon to be executed by a firing squad in North Korea as an alleged U.S spy following her discovery in a restricted territory … unless she manages to bring a particular person into North Korea within the next 24 hours.
The person whom Mara manages to bring in to save herself is U.S. attorney Curt Dominick, a shark of the first order who is, rather unsurprisingly, as handsome as he is ambitious and ruthless. He is also prosecuting Mara’s uncle for corruption and war crimes.
At this point in time, I had to suspend my disbelief a bit. It would have helped if the book hadn’t begun with Mara’s death sentence, but rather with an excerpt of how she ends up in Pyongyang at the wrong time. When the book begins, our protagonists are already in the thick of conflict, and the setup is a bit jarring for those not familiar with this kind of writing. It takes concentrated reading to sieve through the information onslaught at the start.
From there, however, the story picks up. Curt wants to extract evidence against Mara’s uncle based on what he learns from her, but she claims her uncle is innocent. Mara was formerly engaged to the son of the head of a shady organization called Raptor (in which her uncle also holds stake), and Curt wants to know how she ended up in restricted territory in the first place. Then, a plane explodes, friends and suspects alike get murdered, conspiracies for biological warfare are exposed, and Mara and Curt have to hit the ground running as dangerous mercenaries chase them through the streets of Hawaii and DC. Yup, a lot happens in this book.
Describing the romantic relationship between Mara and Curt is like describing the motion of a yo-yo. She idolizes him because he’s saved her life; he thinks she’s brave, smart and hot, and they are both very attracted to each other. But every time he wants to make a move on her, she suddenly remembers he is prosecuting her uncle and might suspect her motives, and every time she wants to make a move on him (which is a lot more often), he remembers he’s a shark and that she’s not fully come clean with him. As a result, I often ended up rolling my eyes at them.
There is plot twist after plot twist in this book. Each time you think you’ve figured out where the story is going, a new angle comes up, with events finally snowballing into mayhem. There’s not much of a whodunit here, but identifying the body of evidence to finally capture the culprits is what keeps this book going.
In terms of the numerous plot convolutions and fast pace of this book, Body of Evidence reminds one of John Grisham’s works. It is well-researched and has enough action to have that thriller edge that a lot of romantic suspense novels lack. There’s also a great trial scene towards the end where Curt pushes Mara to testify in court, which reminded me of those Perry Mason books of yore. It’s a good read and certainly has all the ingredients of a dashing action movie in the making. If you like your romance stirred with a healthy dose of peril and legalese, you will like Body of Evidence.