There are good novels, there are bad novels, and then there are novels that are plain nondescript. Fatal Affair falls firmly in the latter category, which can be deduced from the fact that only one week after finishing it I am hard-put to clearly remember a) who the hero and heroine are and b) what the plot is about.
Nick Cappuano, chief-of-staff to rising Senator John O’Connor, one morning enters his boss’s apartment only to find him murdered in his bed. The detective assigned to the case is Sam Holland, which whom Nick had a one night stand six years earlier. This is a source of tension the minute they meet again, but Sam needs this case after her last big one went majorly wrong, so she won’t asked to be replaced.
There are two avenues of investigation: For one thing, John was murdered on the eve of a vote in the Senate which, had his party won, would have been a major political success for him. At the same time, John had a great number of short-term affairs, and the details of the murder point to a former lover as perpetrator. Sam depends on Nick’s cooperation from the start, because he and John were close friends, and he is very close to the politcally powerful O’Connor family. While Sam and Nick follow a number of clues and don’t get anywhere at first, they also begin to explore what went wrong six years ago.
I quite liked Nick. He is handsome and successful, but in contrast to so many romance heroes he didn’t sleep around after he didn’t get the girl. Instead he’s a workaholic who has no time for a relationship – until he meets Sam again. And I loved his orderliness!
Sam, on the other hand … I never quite warmed to her. To make her sympathetic, Marie Force swamps her with problems and issues which are revealed step by step. Sam is no martyr by any means, but really it was just over the top. Half her issues would have sufficed for any heroine.
What annoyed was John O’Connor’s characterization. A number of facets are revealed about him, many of which might have led to his murder, but somehow he never became a person to me. Instead he remained a list of attributes demanded by the plot, and that is something I don’t even like with dead fictional characters. And there’s a charming secondary plotline about Sam’s young partner Freddie, which is just dropped.
All in all Fatal Affair is a so-so romance. Nothing to throw at the wall, but nothing to get excited about either. If you like romances about detective work in the Washington area, it might be a book for you, but if you give it a pass, you won’t be missing much.