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I've read and reviewed a few Karen Rose novels now and I've really liked her style before so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, I didn't find it as easy to get lost in and wouldn't say it was one of her better novels, but it was still enjoyable to read.
The tagline on the front reads 'Ready or not, here I come...' and the blurb makes it sound like a gripping crime thriller. The book opens by introducing us to a brutal murder, which is often a good sign because we're thrown straight in to the action. Alec, a young deaf boy, is kidnapped; his babysitter is taken too, but the babysitter's boyfriend is killed, as if to send a message to the boy's parents. They're not to contact the police if they want their son back. Fairly basic so far.
The boy's parents are Randi and Stan, and as we learn more about each of them and their relationship, the water starts getting murkier. Enter Ethan, Godfather to Alec and a guy who knows he way around technology and tracking people down (a lucky coincidence, I think you'll agree, especially as he enrols his other friend who is equally like a PI). Ethan feels a duty to the parents, and to his Godson, so he takes off on a hunt to find whoever is responsible. The problem is, there aren't many leads and without involving the police, it's difficult to cover much ground without extra help. The family get an email for a ransom demand and they know the kidnapper, or kidnappers, mean business.
What runs as a separate storyline at first quickly converges when we're introduced to Dana Dupinsky, a woman who runs a woman's shelter called Hanover House. She puts her life on the line often to take in women and children and help them get their lives back, but it's mostly under cover sort of stuff in order to keep them safe. She's got a history that she doesn't share with others and to her, Hanover House is a duty she's bound to. She gets a message from a woman who needs shelter with her son after being beaten by her partner; unbeknown to Dana, the woman is Sue Conroy, the very same woman that has kidnapped Alec.
Here's the next coincidence when Dana and Ethan meet in one of those 'right place, right time' kind of moments. Despite how his world has been turned upside down and that a little boy's life practically rests in his hands, he still finds the time to fall in love ('aww'). In Chicago, whilst searching for Alec and trying to trace the kidnappers emails and movements, he meets up with Dana and their relationship blossoms, but how long is it before they realise they have more in common than they realised? That Dana is the one unknowingly housing a kidnapped child that Ethan is looking for?
I won't say any more about the plot except that, all in all, it's not particularly original by the end, but it's still got enough twists and activity to keep it interesting. Whilst the love interest was a way of adding more dimension to the plot, I did find it kind of difficult to imagine, given the situation.
The characters were fairly well developed, enabling the reader to understand their motives and behaviours a little better. I thought the imagery was fairly vivid so you can get lost in the book and want to read more, feeling emotive ties to what's going on. I do think this could have been stronger, however, perhaps were it not for the sickeningly sweet love story that took over.
At times I felt like more could have been happening, such as by the two investigative guys to find Alec, so it felt a little slow. Other times, there was lots going on and it was high tempo, so the mix helped to balance it out. When there was a lot of action is was well written, enough so that you could imagine the scenes and what was happening, drawing you in nicely.
There's more praise on the back for the novel : Praise on the back : 'Rose delivers the kind of high-wire suspense that keeps you riveted to the edge of your seat' - Lisa Gardner and 'A pulse pounded tale that has it all' - Cosmopolitan. I wouldn't necessarily say this book 'has it all' but at times it is fairly well built in suspense, with the atmosphere being created due to well-flowing language and clarity. I didn't find myself getting too bogged down by characters or confused by a ridiculous plot, so it was easy enough to read and get in to.
Overall, this had its ups and downs, the main down being the love story that distracted, in part, from the thrilling suspense aspect because it was verging on pornographic in parts and seemed difficult to imagine given the plot. It's still one I'd recommend for crime thriller fans, but unfortunately I don't think it was one of Rose's best pieces.
25 chapters over 429 pages, plus an epilogue (hardback). Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections, dated with the time, making it a little easier to read and digest.
Sue Conway is out for revenge. Released from prison after serving ten years, she is determined to find every person who contributed to her time inside and make them pay. Sue has spent her time in prison plotting her revenge and just how exactly she will ensure it all goes to plan.
The first step of her elaborate plan is to kidnap an eleven year old deaf boy, Alec. It's then on to Chicago with Alec in tow, where she poses as a battered wife and takes refuge in a women's shelter, Hanover House, run by Dana Dupinsky. Dana is dedicated to her work and safeguards her clients, hiding many secrets to protect those in need, including a few secrets of her own. However, she would never harbour a kidnapper. That is, if she knew there was one living at her shelter...
Although Dana often puts herself in danger, in particular by going to the bus station in the middle of the night to meet clients who are escaping from their horrendous lives and seeking refuge at her shelter, she has no way of knowing just how much danger she is letting both herself and those who are important to her, in for, when she goes to meet Sue and her young son 'Erik'.
It doesn't take long for Dana to become suspicious as her instincts tell her something isn't quite right about Sue and young Erik. However, Dana is used to secretive mothers who find it hard to trust after what they have been through, so concentrates on supporting Sue and trying to gain her trust. It is only when she finds herself slap bang in the middle of Sue's evil plans and people around her are being killed in horrific ways, that she realises exactly what she is harbouring and by that time, it could all be too late as Dana herself finds out she too, is on Sue's list.
Nothing to Fear begins with Sue Conway, released from prison and attending the funeral of one of her first 'victims' in Western Florida. She remains hidden, hoping for a certain person to arrive, which eventually they do. The words "be afraid...I'm coming" end the prologue, setting the scene for what is to follow and ensuring the reader is suitably intrigued enough to read on. The story then advances to Maryland, a few weeks later and the kidnapping of a young boy named Alec Vaughn.
From then on, the story unfolds at a steady pace which continues throughout the book. One thing I liked about the steady pace was that I found I never lost interest in the actual plot, but there was however, once or twice where I was willing the story to gather pace a little and it didn't. It all just pans out at the same pace which was good in some respects, but a little frustrating in others. There were no slow boring bits, but the absence of a couple of faster-paced moments in the earlier stages was just slightly disappointing.
Rose is good at building up the tension and suspense and that was enough to keep me turning the pages, but I did begin to feel it was getting somewhat predictable. That was until the first big twist came two-thirds of the way into the book. I hadn't seen it coming and after that, there were a couple of smaller ones to follow. What I thought had became predictable then became unpredictable.
There are a number of characters in this book and the author develops them all very well, as she reveals more and more about them as the story grows instead of bombarding you with a load of information in one go. Again this is something I applauded about her writing style here.
The only niggle I had was I thought too much time was spent on Dana's developing relationship with ex-marine turned P.I. Ethan Buchanan. The story is a tense thriller with some gory moments that are not for the faint hearted, so maybe Rose thought she would lighten the story with the overly long relationship building parts. It was just a little OTT for me and seemed to read like something from a Mills and Boon romance with the heavy breathing and intensity between the two and just didn't seem fitting with the theme overall. I found I was thinking "pass the sick bucket" on more than one occasion, but maybe a less cynical eye than mine would think I am just being too harsh here!
I enjoyed Dana's character as someone who goes out of her way to help others after enduring a hard life herself, though there was once or twice she irritated me. I thought the character of Evie, her friend who helps at the shelter after being one of Dana's former client herself was really interesting and I found I identified with her actions more than once. Much praise must also be given to the author for the character of Sue, which has been very well researched. Rose created a character here that was strong, evil and out of control. The image I had of Sue Conway in my head was a very scary-looking one indeed!
Towards the end, I began to think the story was too long and indeed if you chopped out some of the relationship building it would have been shorter, but then suddenly there was a big twist which I mentioned earlier, which gave me renewed interest and it all got so much better. There was another lull that I thought could have been shortened, but apart from that it did become more exciting and the pace which had been so steady throughout, picked up a little as the book reached its dramatic conclusion, with a couple of heart-stopping moments.
I found Nothing To Fear an enjoyable book to read and it has made me keen to check out more of this author's work. It reminded me a little of reading a Lisa Gardner novel, which is another author whose books I enjoy reading. So it came as no surprise to find she endorses this book on the back cover.
Overall it is a horrific tale of revenge that will keep you riveted from start to finish.
Nothing to Fear (.........or is there?!) by Karen Rose
First of all this is the first Karen Rose book that I have read, I have recently taking up reading due to having problems sleeping, i thought that having something to read would help me settle...well so much for that!!
Karen Rose is a worldwide famous auther having several books released both here in the uk along with the U.S and several other countries. She is currently living in Florida with her husband of 20 years and her children. Her books seem to be thriller based although I read somewhere that she often classes herself as a romance writer. While there may be a romance element there I would class this book as a thriller.
The book ~
The book itself itself is rather long, just under 600 pages so brace yourself for a good evening of reading and ideally have a drink and nibbles with you!!
The cover has a striking design, with the slogan ,"ready or not,here I come.." being put in bright white writing before the neon blue Nothing to Fear. There is a picture of a blood tipped knife and a note upon what looks like bullet shot glass. Not just a pretty picture the cover will become clear upon reading the book!! The book is published by Headline.
The recommended price (RRP) suggested upon the book is £7.99 but i got this at the bargain price of £1 from Asda as they are having a massive book clearout. If you read it is worth a look!! Having said this I would have happily paid the full price for the book and it would be well worth it!
The Story ~
The story is fairly long and up until you find out the plot is it does leave you with alot of questions in your head that need answering, however at a vital part of the book all becomes clear and you will start to put all he pieces together. I wont give an indepth review of the storyline as it would spoil it , part of the book is trying to work it all out and i would hate for you to be deprived of it!!
Sue Conway is recently released from prison. She is out to get the people who put her there and plots up the ultimate revenge. When she kidnaps an 11 year old deaf boy (Alex) the plan starts to come together. With a fake name she heads to Chicago where she stays with the boy at Hanover House - a hidden sanctuary for abused woman. Blending in with the other woman in the house she intends to stay there until a ransom of $5 million is paid. She is helped out by Dana Dupinski the woman who runs the house paying back the dept that she feels she needs to pay. The past haunting her. She thinks she is doing a good deed but she didnt know that Sue was a killer, a Kidnapper, an ex- convict.
Upon discovering their son is missing the parents of the boy turn to the boys godfather Ethan to try and track him down. Ethan is ex military and has a friend who is ex police and together they start the laborious task of trying to find his godson, and the woman that took him. Following the very few tracks left behind he ends up in chicago where the trail goes cold. It is there that he meets Dana and a spark flies between them but neither knows the truth about each other. Dana keeps her world hidden from Ethan. To her he is a worker for a security firm,and there is no need for him to know the truth about her....to reveal what she really does. And so it goes on. So near and yet so far!
The story then takes a twist, just as you are beginning to think that it is going to be dragged on with everything being so near, only a conversation away from finding the kidnapper. People at the shelter begin to question the wellbeing of Alex, why does no one see him? and there is something about his "mum" that just isnt right. But Sue will stop at nothing to keep him hidden ....or will let no - one get in her way.
My opinion ~
I really enjoyed this book. I was pleasantly suprised at the fact that it was a woman who so would brutally murder and kidnap without second thought. It makes it so much realler like the world we live in today. Woman can be brutal too!!lol
The book is well written and you dont need to have a dictionary at the side of you to understand what is going on. The plot is full and unflawed with plenty of twists and turns, leavng you guessing what will happen next and how things are connected. It all comes together well and is pretty realistic to the chain of events.
The characters are good and the main ones are fairly strong. You are given just enough to know them, to understand them.
There is a slight element of romance in the book aswell just to give it a bit of depth. The sexual tension between the characters is well put across and i must say there are a couple of scenes that are very well described!! ;)
All in all this book was well worth what i paid for it. I was that impressed I have ordered another book of hers so i will have something to compare it too but at present I would deffinitely recommend this if you like your thrillers/crime books or even mystery. Be prepared not to be able to put it down though, its an addictive read once you get into it!!
I'm a big fan of this author but this is not one of Karen Rose's best novels.
It's an enjoyable book, but considering her writing ability this book would score no more than a C+.
Normally when I read a Karen Rose book I can't put it down, or I have to force myself to stop reading because otherwise I'd sit and read from cover to cover in one fell swoop. With this book I didn't get that at all.
While the story is interesting there's nothing particularly gripping about it, and I think it's spoiled by the main characters meeting in a bus depot and falling into bed with each other a few pages later, especially when Dana is supposed to be a savvy women who's been physically hurt by men in the past, as so is wary of all men. There's also far too much of the book spent on their sex life, and not enough on the actual crime and the kidnap of a young boy.
There is a twist in the tale half way though, which I didn't see coming, but it doesn't really add a new dimension to the story, again because despite the twist, Karen focuses back on Dana and Ethan's love live as soon as it's revealed.
Definitely a case of could do better, and with her other books Karen does do far better. So if you're thinking of trying out Karen Rose as a new author, pick a different book to begin.
A well written book which drags you along with it as the adventure escalates. It did take me a considerable amount of time to get into it - I was just starting Chapter 8 (p.116) and was still unsure whether I was interested, gave it another chapter and suddenly became hooked. The only thing I found confusing was the time frame, I believe it all happens in a week, which is a little bizarre when you get to the end and realise how much has happened. Another downside is I felt I was already meant to know something about the characters although this book isn't part of a series.
Other than that, which is always something you can live with, the book is very good. It's jam-packed with the stuff that makes for an excellent thriller. It is face-paced, once it gets going; a good mixture of characters; different crimes and locations as well as a bit of romance. Judging by the ending I have a feeling if I was to pick up another book by Karen Rose written after this one, that there'll be reference to one or two of the characters introduced in `Nothing to Fear'.
It is always difficult to discuss the plot when reviewing a thriller and therefore I won't as sufficient information is available on Amazon and other places on the internet. I have two others of hers on my bookshelves and I am looking forward to reading them.
~ ~ A little about the author ~ ~
Karen Rose lives in Florida and she actually has a Chemical Engineering degree and she tends to describe her novels as being Romance, rather than crime based. I would say, Romance is there, but Crime is the mainstay though. She began writing while bored at work, and it took off from there. She has written 7 titles so far, with her latest, 'Scream for Me' released in late May 2008 and is available in hardback.
Karen Rose didn't really have many books out when I first read "I'm watching you" which I had picked up before others from a charity shop. In fact, I could only find Count to Ten available in the UK initially (reviewed also) - The book I had picked up from the charity shop I realized must have come across from the US, perhaps having been bought by someone while on holiday, read and then passed on. Either way, while she wasn't a new author it was near enough impossible to get books of hers. Now (June 2008) it's easier and more are available.
~ ~ Book Synopsis ~ ~
There is someone watching and waiting at the graveyard. Initially she thinks her plan has failed and someone she hoped would arrive at a funeral didn't look as if they were going to turn up. And then suddenly, just as she was about to leave, the person in question was spotted arriving at a distance.
Before long, a 12-year-old boy is kidnapped. In itself a horrific enough crime, but Alec is also deaf and his only form of communication is through sign language or words written down.
We then begin to realize that his kidnapper is out for retribution, and won't hesitate to kill anyone that stands in her way. They move across country and land up in Chicago where they take shelter. Unfortunately for those sheltering them they have no idea in reality they are harbouring a murderer and kidnapped child. The person providing the shelter is Dana Dupinsky, who runs a shelter for battered woman.
The godfather (Ethan Buchannan) of Alec who runs he own Private Investigator Company, sets out to track Alec down. Initially Ethan is reluctant to help and tries to get Alec's parents to call the police in, but when he can't he knows he is Alec's only real hope. So Ethan, with the help of his business partner Clay begins to try and find Alec.
Ethan lands up in Chicago; and he crosses paths with Dana completely by accident. Unfortunately for Ethan and Dana is they don't realize that in fact they are connected by the kidnapping until it's too late and people close to Dana are also killed.
Dana and Ethan must put aside their growing attraction to each other in order to try and save Alec.
Unfortunately what Ethan, Dana and others don't know is that Alec kidnap and the subsequent demand for 5 million dollars is merely a smokescreen for revenge that no one could have ever envisaged.
~ ~ Thoughts on the book ~ ~
This book is interesting because from almost the first chapter we know who the villain of the piece is! So unlike many other crime stories we don't have to guess as to who did the crime, but we are still kept in suspense because we really don't know why the need for revenge is so deep, nor do we know whom in reality the revenge is meant for.
What Karen Rose does so well in this book is bring in a good number of characters, each with a very vital part to play in what happens. I've said in a previous review, what Karen Rose does is provide great characters, even secondary ones. Added to this, while some characters are from other books, this is very much a stand-alone novel and so you don't have to know anything about previous books to enjoy them. Nor, if you have read the books where other characters are mentioned/used do you get bogged down with information about them, which is repetitive - keeping it fresh for old and new readers alike.
It's this sort of difference that really makes Karen Rose such a good writer for me. I've now read 3 of her books and on each occasion I've never felt as if I was reading rehashed information about characters.
The different layers the book contains are also typical of Karen Rose. As soon as one question gets answered often another one appears, and more importantly seems significant and not just a page filler.
If there was any criticism it might be that you do have to follow the first few chapters quite carefully to fully begin to understand some of the characters relationships, but it doesn't take too long and once you do begin to follow all the links, it really does pull the story together in a great way.
As mentioned in the beginning, Rose herself describes her writing as romance rather than crime based. In this instance romance is there, and seems slightly more prevalent than the previous books I've read. It did detract ever so slightly more than previously for me, but still not enough for me to detract from the overall plot, which is great. But this will undoubtedly restrict some of the readership value and in some ways that's a shame because I do think that Rose is a great crime writer. Romance/Crime isn't generally my cup of tea either, but I enjoy Rose and I also recognize that a lot of people do enjoy the inclusion of romance to a story.
~ ~ Final thoughts ~ ~
The book is full of twists and turns, and great characterisation. The characters and plot are dynamic and punchy. The romance is there, and while you certainly know about it - it doesn't detract from the books main focus.
This isn't a genre that will appeal to everyone and without doubt women will find it an easier read than men, but I still find it strange her books are generally found in the "romance" section when I personally believe it fits perfectly well in the "crime" section.
The fact that we also have a murderer sheltered in a place where others should be safe is also a wonderful twist and just adds to the overall feeling of the book. Not only that, to have Dana completely unaware of the danger she has placed others in, when she is normally so cagey and reserved about even revealing what she does (she has a cover "job" of being a photographer) works superbly well.
I will give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I only mark it down because it really should belong fully in the Crime genre, I genuinely believe Karen Rose is good enough to do this, however the romance places this out of some readerships of Crime books, and that's a real shame.