Lethal Lies
Grade : B

Fans of romantic suspense who enjoy mature, adult characters who don't flounce around and act silly will love Lethal Lies, and readers who are tired of the psychic-heroine-versus-skeptic-cop storyline will rejoice - there's not a trace of the woo-woo stuff to be found here.

For years, Chelsea Logan led a hard life. She drifted from job to job, from bottle to bottle, with her daughter Jessie as the only bright spot in her life. But lately Chelsea's life was on an upturn. She quit drinking and took a job with the newspaper in her old home town Serenity, Maine. When her car went off the road and into the river, it's ruled a suicide, but Chelsea had no motive to kill herself.

Faith Pelletier is Chelsea's cousin who for the past several months has been fighting her own demons. A best-selling mystery author, she has suffered from writers’ block ever since her beloved husband Ben died a lingering death from cancer. Faith is now faced with finishing a contracted book or returning a whopping advance, and all the stress has left her with insomnia and panic attacks. When Faith hears about Chelsea's death, she drops everything and goes to Serenity. She'd always bailed Chelsea out of trouble in the past, and now Jessie needs her.

Ty Savage is the chief of police in Serenity. He and Faith grew up together, but he slept with Chelsea and broken Faith's heart. Ty was once a wild young man, but he has settled down and he too has his share of problems, especially his father who is showing signs of forgetfulness. Ty and Faith meet at Chelsea's funeral and as the story progresses, it's clear that Chelsea stumbled into dangerous information and paid with her life.

I was engrossed in Lethal Lies, not so much for the mystery, which took some time to come to the forefront of the book, but for the characters and setting. Serenity is not small-town romanceland, not a bucolic white-picket-fence and rose-covered-cottage place. Instead it's slowly dying. The factories and pulp mills have mostly closed and jobs are hard to find. The main street is marked by boarded up businesses, and the young people are leaving. Serenity is not immune to urban pathologies either. There is a drug problem with heroin and Oxycontin, and a racist group came out of the woodwork when a group of Somali immigrants settled in the town. Yet despite all the problems, there are good people there, especially Ty, who loves his home town and hopes for its future to improve.

Faith and Ty are admirable characters - flawed yes, but neither are silly, or immature. They are in their late 30s and actually acted their age! I was impressed. The other characters, while not as fully sketched as Ty and Faith, were interesting as well, and made me want to know more about them. When a book leaves me wanting more - I know it is a good one.

I did have a couple of small problems. There are many threads of the story left hanging and many of my questions were left unanswered. Faith and Ty think they have a suspect in Chelsea's death and they paint a plausible motive, but the true killer is someone different. Still, their scenario raises some questions about that character in the book and these questions are left with no answer at the end. Also, while I loved the HEA, I couldn't help but wonder how Faith, who has been used to living in New York's literary and educational circles, is going to adjust to life in a dying town in Maine. And we have yet another chatty villain who drones on and on and on taking up time so that the good guys can come to the rescue. But I've seen this done in plenty of straight mysteries as well, so I'll just chalk it up to literary convention and accept it. If a villain just shot the hero or heroine and didn't bother to tell them all his villainous thoughts while he held the gun on them, we wouldn't have a HEA now, would we?

Fans of romantic suspense with a good dose of romance, interesting and likeable characters and a good meaty plot will love this book, especially if they can overlook a few unanswered questions. Those who have to have every T crossed and every I dotted may not be quite so happy, but I expect even they will admit they mostly enjoyed it.

Reviewed by Ellen Micheletti
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 22, 2005

Publication Date: 2005/03

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Recent Comments …

  1. This sounds great. I’ve been reading a lot of historical mysteries lately and loving them, though less Victorian and more…

Ellen Micheletti

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