When I pick up a book by Karen Rose, I know I’m in for one heck of a thrill ride. The plotting is almost always right on target, she writes good characters, and, while her villains may tend toward the supersmart serial killers, they don’t cross the line into campy eeeeevil. With Silent Scream, she delivers a good read that makes me want to never again tap into free wi-fi.
The story opens with a group of college students setting a condo building on fire in what appears to be part of an extreme environmentalist plot of some type. However, unbeknownst to the students, someone else is there and that someone is taping their actions.
As it turns out, a teenage girl was trapped inside the building during the fire and Detective Olivia Sutherland is called to investigate her death. At the scene of the fire, Olivia meets firefighter David Hunter. Not only is David gorgeous and a competent firefighter, but he and Olivia share a history. And so begins a story that blends romance and suspense unusually well.
The investigation of the girl’s death pulls the reader into a suspense tale of steadily growing intensity. The author mixes scenes of the investigation with scenes of the unknown plotter’s blackmail and manipulation of the college students, and the result is an excellent multilayered story. Though the author reveals the identity of the blackmailer just over halfway into the story, it’s still hard to tell exactly how the plot is going to shake out. And there are some fantastic twists thrown in at the end.
The romance between Olivia and David matches the building intensity of the suspense plot. We learn early on that these two felt an amazing connection when they met at a wedding in Chicago, but that something went awry. There are very obviously hurt feelings, but it takes a while for the reader to learn exactly what happened. The hurt between these two feels real, and as they start reaching out to communicate honestly with each other, the love that builds between them feels realistic as well. They’re a good pair.
Silent Scream came extremely close to being a DIK for me. However, it didn’t quite get there for me primarily because of David’s character. Much is made of his complete saintliness. And truly, the man all but walks on water. The author uses his past to try to explain why he is this way, but it was still a little too much.
Even so, this is quite an excellent book, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. This one is the second in the Hat Squad series (I Can See You is the first), but it stands very well on its own. Though nearly 600 pages long, I read it in two breathless days and enjoyed every moment.