Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DEAD WRONG by Mariah Stewart

Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: June 2004
ISBN: 0-345-46392-7
Romantic Suspense
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Library

Despite her own personal heartbreak, Mara Douglas works diligently for abused children, doing what she can to keep them from returning to the homes that have caused them physical and emotional pain. Her path is straight and narrow. She brings little emotion to the job, not because she doesn’t feel it, but because she is a professional who strives to do what is best for each child. She is warm, friendly and truly doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Nor does she call on the friendships she has within the courthouse to steer her cases in the direction she would want most or turn to her FBI Special Agent sister Annie for help. Life is fairly routine and stable for Mara. Her personal heartache aside, life is steady and she has moments of happiness until one day three suspects come together.

A wanna be killer, a killer and a serial killer sit in a room in the courthouse and play a game. A game where each will kill for the other. For one, it isn’t a game.

Aiden Shields stood side by side with his brothers, Dylan and Connor as dedicated FBI special agents until one night he and Dylan were ambushed. On the heels of Dylan’s death Aiden cared little for healing his own physical or emotional wounds. Choosing to bury himself in his small apartment for almost a year he shuns any human contact he is not forced to make. But he made a promise to Dylan before he died—he would always be there for Dylan’s fiancĂ©, Annie. When Annie’s sister, Mara’s, life is threatened he cannot say no to the woman his brother loved and despite his infirmities, agrees to sit in as her body guard.

Mariah Stewart truly hits her stride in DEAD WRONG. The dark tension I found in VOICES CARRY is back with power. The romance is toe curling, the suspense breath catching and the villain perhaps the most vile Ms. Stewart has written to date. Curtis Channing is beyond scary. Like Ted Bundy he comes across as an average guy, a nice guy and his victims never see him coming. He’s outright scary.

Aiden Shields is one of the most compelling heroes I’ve read in a long time. He and his injuries are complex and multi-layered and I fell in love with him the first time he appeared on the page. You can see the man he was and could be again if not for his own darkness.

Mara is the kind of person you’d like to have for a friend. She’s no nonsense and loyal and just a plain good person.

I’m not entirely sure that events would unfold quite the way they did. At least in California most police departments wouldn’t put the combination of suspects together in a room and leave them unguarded even in restraints. For someone in law enforcement to be on a case, carrying a weapon when they aren’t medically released is an officer safety issue. The chances of the wounded officer being unable to complete his assigned duty without either himself or someone else injured can be high. Additionally, an officer who is not psychologically cleared before assuming even a desk job simply would not happen.

That said, DEAD WRONG has some good drama, intriguing characters and a satisfying ending. I read the story in 2-1/2 days simply because I couldn’t put the book down.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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