Picture Me Dead
I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is to read a good romantic suspense book. J.D. Robb’s In Death books are among my favorites, but I haven’t read much other romantic suspense lately. Picture Me Dead made me realize what I’ve been missing. The story moved along at a fast pace, and while perhaps the romance wasn’t as strong as the terrific suspense storyline, it was acceptable.
Ashley Montague is a talented artist who hopes to become a police officer. Her life suddenly becomes very interesting as she’s finishing training at the police academy. An old friend is hit by a car and critically injured while wandering around on the road. The officers investigating the accident chalk it up to the drugs found in his system. Ashley knows Stuart isn’t the druggie-type; they were close in high school, and have remained close ever since. But the police aren’t as convinced as Ashley.
In the midst trying to determine what really happed to Stuart, she encounters Detective Jake Dilessio. Jake is obsessed with the death of his partner Nancy five years earlier. He loved her, and though she was married, she considered him a friend. Her death during their investigation of a creepy cult run by Peter Bordon still haunts Jake, who has been unable to prove that Nancy’s death wasn’t an accident. But how to explain her actions the night she died? Bordon is about to be released from prison for fraud-related crimes when another murder occurs that is similar to the cult murders Jake and Nancy once investigated. Jake believes that Bordon is somehow calling the shots.
As Ashley and Jake continue to pursue their separate cases, it becomes clear that there is a connection between what happened to Stuart and the murder Jake is investigating. I had no idea how the mystery was going to play out as many plot elements (and there were many, most of which were exciting and unpredictable) were not what they seemed. One sub-plot didn’t ring true based on previous information. I wished for a more detailed explanation but none was forthcoming.
The romance aspect was definitely weaker than the suspense plot. Although both characters were enjoyable as individuals, as a couple they seemed angry and not all that loving. I never really knew whether Ashley and Jake actually liked each other, which made an HEA for them difficult to buy. Ashley has the attitude that she is the only one who can solve the mystery of Stuart’s accident, even though she isn’t even out of the academy. Jake is definitely a hard-nosed, rather jaded cop; he chews Ashley out a few times over her behavior, although he is genuinely concerned about her and her friends. Meanwhile, Jake is hung up on his old partner and something in Ashley’s spirit and attitude (not her looks) reminded him of Nancy. Ashley realizes this, but is drawn to Jake anyway.
The suspense part worked well for me and I was curious to see how it all worked out. I can definitely recommend that aspect of the story. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Picture Me Dead, my reservations about it are strong enough that I hesitate to recommend it at the hardcover price unless you are a serious fan of the author. Only books I wholeheartedly love are worth spending $25.00 on! Otherwise I suggest you wait until the book is released in paperback, or call your public library and borrow a copy. Then, enjoy.