Did You Miss Me?
Fans of Karen Rose will recognize the hero and heroine of this novel from her book No One Left to Tell. Daphne and Joseph met during the case surrounding Paige but neither has made a move to act on their mutual attraction. All that changes when Daphne finds herself in the middle of prosecuting a very dangerous case and Joseph finds himself fighting for her life – and his own.
Daphne Montgomery worked hard to overcome a convoluted past and achieve her dream of being an attorney. All that hard work has led to her wearing a Kevlar vest as she sits awaiting the verdict on a white supremacist whom she has been prosecuting for the last thirty days. To say the trial has been difficult would be an understatement. Publicly, the defendant’s family has done the media circuit, making him out to be a cross between a choir boy and Boy Scout. Their endless mantra of a politically correct country picking on innocent white civilians has ratcheted the racial tension in the city of Baltimore to breaking point. Privately, the family has threatened the lives of everyone involved with the case, including those of Daphne and her son. When all hell breaks loose in the courtroom as the defendant tries to escape, no one is really surprised. Trouble had been expected. What happens for the next several hours, though, stuns the entire city.
Joseph Carter gave up his job chasing terrorists for the FBI to join the FBI VCET team so he could be in Baltimore close to family. And close to Daphne. In the months while he waited for a transfer though, she had found another man. Joseph goes through the motions of being fine with that but deep inside he still longs to be with her. The exciting news that she actually isn’t with another man couldn’t have come at a worst time. While Daphne has spent the morning in court awaiting a verdict on her case, Joseph has spent it trying to track down her son Ford. The boy’s dead body guard and blood stained car tell a tale no one wants to hear. Thankfully the young man himself appears to have been abducted rather than murdered. But how long do they have before those circumstances change?
Even as he is searching for Ford, Joseph finds himself called to the courthouse where a guilty verdict had led to a brawl, an escape attempt and a knife fight. When he gets there Daphne has just started speaking to a group of reporters on the steps. While the reporters bombard her with questions the scene is suddenly bombarded with bullets. During the ensuing fight, Daphne tries to draw the shooter’s attention away from friends by throwing a camera bag. Realizing she has just made herself a target for the shooter, Joseph throws himself on top of her to stave off the bullets. He wishes he could save her as easily from the heartache that is sure to follow the news of Ford’s kidnapping. News no one has had the chance to tell her.
All of this, though, is just the tip of the ice berg. As Joseph continues his hunt for the kidnappers and Daphne does all she can to help, they find themselves caught in a tangled web of lies, deceit and revenge that will take them back to a dark and dangerous corner of Daphne’s past – one she would just as soon never revisit.
I’ve been a Karen Rose fan since close to the beginning of her career. I love her taut, action packed, edge of your seat thrillers. But this time around the outstanding writing and plotting were tripped up by the romance and convoluted nature of the plot. It didn’t help that I could never warm up to Daphne either.
To begin, let’s look at the romance. Joseph finds out Daphne is available after finding out her son is missing. Somehow, this doesn’t stop the two from falling into each other’s arms before forty eight hours have passed. This really, really didn’t work for me. You would be under a tremendous amount of stress handling the kind of case she was handling to begin with. Everything that happened after the verdict would put you in a wired state as well. Then your child turns up missing. Just how much of you would there be to put into the start of a relationship? And how could you even be close to having an emotional interest in one? I wanted Joseph and Daphne to get together but I felt their timing could not possibly have been worse. I simply couldn’t believe that either of them had anything left over at the end of the day to give a romance when they spent that day dodging bullets and hunting for her missing child.
Daphne’s very dark and tragedy-laden past was another tripping point for me. She had not one but three groups of enemies working against her. That’s not even counting her weirdo stalker whose actions enabled everything that happened! She had more tragedy in her past than most country music song heroines. She was described as a fighter but I was disturbed by the fact that all the men in her life seemed to constantly be rescuing her. I was exceptionally disturbed regarding the rescuing her young son did during her divorce proceedings. She wound up not feeling real to me and the end result was that I couldn’t connect with her character at all.
Joseph faded into Daphne. His character was the usual cop character – strong, stalwart, devoted, and protective – but he didn’t really stand out to me as a person. On the plus side, he only has one tragic event in his past and it is one that makes sense. I found his character a bit bland but it was also extremely believable.
Rose writes deliciously complicated mysteries and this book was no exception. I will admit though that despite the excellent plotting and abundance of quality details I found myself struggling with believability. Daphne was so unreal that her story felt the same. It didn’t help that everything tied back to her.
Any book that earns a B range grade has positives and this one is no exception. In mystery, the author needs to “wow” you on two fronts – the journey to the answer and the answer itself. This book wowed on the journey. I kept turning pages, anxious to see how the mystery was solved and how all the little pieces fit together. Rose is really a master at this, offering up puzzle pieces at just the right pace. Adding to the positives in the book is that we get to catch up with characters from previous novels like Grayson and Paige and Lucy and J.D. I loved seeing them again. There are also two secondary romances, one touched on very briefly and the other is a build up to a coming book. I look forward to finishing that story.
In the end I give this book a mild recommendation. For fans of the author, it will make for a pleasant read. For people who have never tried her, I strongly recommend starting with her back list. This is not her strongest work.