The Barnes & Noble Review
Linda Howard, bestselling romance writer of such wonderful tales as "Son of the Morning", "Angel Creek" and "Dream Man," now turns her pen to the romantic-suspense genre with "Kill & Tell." Fans of her romances will find plenty to enjoy here, for her heroine, Karen Whitlaw, and hero, Marc Chastain, still find the mysteries of love at least as intriguing as the murder story that fuels "Kill & Tell".
Dexter Whitlaw, a Vietnam vet, has a book of secrets that he carefully packages up and mails from Washington, D.C., to his estranged wife, Jeannette, in Ohio. Whitlaw hasn't seen his wife for years, nor his daughter, both of whom he abandoned nearly 20 years before. But Dexter Whitlaw has some game afoot, a same that is as real and dangerous as the life-and-death struggle he experienced in the jungles of Vietnam. A few days later, Karen, his daughter, receives the package with a very special notebook enclosed. Memories of her fathernone of them happycome rushing back to her.
Now a nurse, Karen is nearly 30 and has not thought about her absentee father for many years. Her mother recently died, and Karen is still grieving. She takes the package and binds it up among some of her mother's possessions. Karen has no interest in opening the door to the mystery of her father, nor of the life he currently leads.
And that life he's currently leading has plenty of complications of its own. When next we see her father, he is in New Orleans, and a game of cat and mouse is afoot. Someone is after him, and Whitlaw has barely managed to stay one foot ahead of hispursuers. A CIA agent, Rick Medina, is also on his trail, and both he and Whitlaw are killed on the streets of the French Quarter. The corpse with the bullet in the head is believed to be a homeless vagrant, until Police Detective Marc Chastain arrives to investigate the case.
This is where Linda Howard's novel flies, and shows her considerable strength as a storytellerin the characterization of the hero. "'Chastain,' one detective had said, 'is the type of guy who carries a blade.'" He is the dark stranger of all good romantic fiction, both a threat and a lust object. Marc Chastain is part-Creole, part-dangerous, a ladies' man who loses sleep over the death of the as-yet-unidentified vagrant. When Chastain goes to the morgue to find out the true identity of this John Doe, he's surprised to find that Whitlaw is a veteran and has a family in Ohio.
Karen, despite her mixed feelings about her father's death, flies to New Orleans when Chastain contacts her with the unhappy news. In the city of light, color, sound, and fury, she will find intrigue, mystery, thrills, and of course, romance. The dark story of her father's past and the blackmail of higher-ups moves from the Vietnam War to the halls of the United States Senate. Now someone wants Karen dead so they can have the notebook her father had sent hera notebook with extremely valuable and dangerous information within its pages.
As Karen's life is threatened, she and Marc Chastain learn the secrets of politics and power and killing.Linda Howard is fairly new to romantic suspense, and it shows. While her story has all the bells and whistles of a suspense thriller, she occasionally dwells too long on unnecessary point-of-view shifts that slow down the suspense. However, her characters are strong and vibrant, and once we spend time with Chastain, the novel soars.
In fact, the chemistry between Chastain and Karen is palpable and believable. I wish she'd introduced Chastain earlier in the storyhe's a fascinating human being.
For entertainment value, "Kill & Tell" is one of those reads to while away a delicious afternoon with. A genuine treat, and the last 50 pages will leave you breathless.Jessi Rose Lucas