You Belong to Me
I understand the value of keeping your mouth shut. And I understand the value of keeping secrets that will protect others, that keep family or friends from embarrassment or harm. But if romantic suspense/suspense novels have taught me anything it is the value of singing like a canary when the police first come to your door. Because secrets that bring a cop to the door? They only lose the power to harm when they’ve been told.
Medical examiner Lucy Trask has put the past mostly behind her, and if she isn’t exactly living out loud she is living a successful, satisfying existence. Then she finds the body – a body deliberately left in such a way as to draw her attention – to make her blood run cold. And then she finds out who the body is. And who the next body is. Suddenly, she finds herself back in a past filled with secrets, a past the she never really understood. As the police draw slowly closer to the truth, she finds herself drawing slowly closer to J.D. Trask, the lead detective. Lucy doesn’t do love. It hasn’t worked out for her in the past – how could it possibly work now in this blood filled present?
J.D. is fascinated by the contrasts and depths found in M.E. Lucy. He finds himself falling in love with each new layer that is revealed. But Lucy holds her secrets so closely that he is struggling to get to know the real her. Can she find it in her to reveal herself to him – to share her secrets before those secrets bring them both to an untimely and violent end?
Rose is a master of the genre, doling out information in tiny pieces, ratcheting up the suspense with every page. Here she gives us an intense thriller with a high body count that shows just what goes wrong when we do – nothing. That evil can come in the form of a silent tongue as well as the loud bang of a gun, thump of a fist, or swish of the knife. She does a good job of showing how a secret can be like quick sand, pulling people beneath its surface just for standing too close.
She is also a master at love formed in violence. J.D. and Lucy form their relationship across autopsy tables, during interrogations, while driving to interview suspects. Yet the love never feels forced or unnatural. Part of the reason is that given their jobs, the world J.D. and Lucy inhabit will always include violence. Another part of it is that Rose doesn’t use her setting for romance, she uses the innermost beings of her characters. That makes a huge difference here, allowing the characters to connect on the deepest levels regardless of where they are. It makes for a powerful, heartfelt love story.
Lucy and J.D. are well drawn characters. We really get to know what makes Lucy who she is – each life experience is represented in some aspect of her personality, making for a complex, interesting whole. J.D., while less intense as a character, is also well drawn and fully realized. He was a quiet, rational character and serves as an anchor for the tale. His easy sanity serves as the perfect counterpoint to the villains over the top craziness.
While much of the novel is very, very well done, a handful of things kept it from being a perfect read for me. One was the sheer length of the tale – the book was long enough to drag me down. Another was the behavior of all the people in on the secret – including the P.I. I can understand keeping your secret initially, but the way everyone held on while the body count ratcheted through the roof seemed ridiculous. The silence cost their lives and I just didn’t get why they kept it up when the handwriting was on the wall – in blood no less.
Minor flaws aside, this was a very good read. I would recommend it to any fan of the genre.