Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose
Series: Romantic Suspense #26, New Orleans #1
Published by Berkley on August 26, 2022
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
After completing her tours with the Marines in Iraq, Molly Sutton knew she could take down any bad guy she met. But when her law enforcement agency in North Carolina turned against her, she joined up with her former CO Burke Broussard, who left New Orleans PD to set up a private investigative service for people who couldn't find justice elsewhere.
Gabe Hebert saw the toll that working for the NOPD took on his dad and decided instead to make a name for himself as one of the best young chefs in the French Quarter. But when his father's death is ruled a suicide after a deliberately botched investigation by his former captain, Gabe knows his dad stumbled onto a truth that someone wants silenced.
Gabe goes to his father's best friend, Burke, for help. Burke assigns the toughest member of his team, Molly, to the case. Molly can't believe she's being asked to work with the smoking hot chef whose chocolate cake is not the only thing that makes her mouth water. Sparks fly as they follow the leads Gabe's dad left them, unraveling a web of crimes, corruption, and murder that runs all the way to the top.
Another city, another team of investigators, and of course another gritty, suspenseful plot to tighten in the reader’s gut and consume the thoughts until well past the final page. I’ve only been following along with Karen Rose’s Romantic Suspense series since Cincinnati and have made a start on the older series, but that first book I read made me a fan of her thrilling writing.
Quarter to Midnight begins a new leg in the series and a good place for new readers to start. There are appearances of familiar faces from past series, but doesn’t affect the plot of this new book.
An older, retired New Orleans cop knows his days are numbered because the wrong people know he has been poking into what they need to keep hidden. His convictions are deep that they need to be stopped, but never gets the chance to finish what he started before his pursuers got to him.
A career as a chef and determined to stay out of policing doesn’t mean Gabe is ignorant enough to accept the cause of his dad’s death as suicide. Gabe Hebert wants the truth especially since the independent autopsy shows the investigators blatantly ignored and even suppressed the medical evidence. He goes to his dad’s old cop turned private investigator friend and Broussard assigns his best, former Marine, Molly Sutton, to the case.
Molly and Gabe share the sparks between them as they work the case. They soon learn they are up against some powerful, ruthless people who have a great bit of the NOPD in their pocket. And the body count mounts as the witnesses and potential problems are eliminated with Molly and Gabe on the to-do list along with a key person from the past, Xavier Morrow. They need to beat the clock and a dark agenda if they are to save others and stay alive.
I’ve learned to never get antsy when I see the huge page count of Karen Rose’s books. I no sooner settle in at page one and it is not unusual that I don’t come up for air until a large portion of the book is gone. And, then I’m distracted until I can return to the book. Forget everything else once I hit that point near the end when the suspense explodes and I can’t leave off until there is a wrap up.
The book pace clips along and swaps narrators each chapter or more often, but the development is strong and I never feel the story rushing by.
Quarter to Midnight was no exception. I enjoyed the change in setting to New Orleans and the situation of the dirty members of the justice system from cops on up that shifted the investigation team to the private sector. Never fear, there are still good people working in the justice system and a larger team emerges, some from past books and other new quirky civilian characters particularly Broussard’s capable investigation team and his network in the city, to go after the corruption even if it puts them on the hit list. I liked seeing how modern private investigators work their jobs and seeing tough, competent Molly in action.
Quarter to Midnight is also a change-up with Gabe being a talented chef and restaurant co-owner with the looks that rival his food for causing people to drool. His lead role is different from the law enforcement types and yet he can’t be discounted as a team member. The romance comes on early and quickly, but the pacing of the book makes it work. I like how both are smart about it and relatively smart in their investigating.
There are more than a few secondary storylines particularly that of Xavier Morrow that trail around and through Gabe and Molly’s plot and eventually all tie in. Xavier was a young murder witness who was rescued by Gabe’s dad and what he saw puts him in a killer’s crosshairs to keep him from getting to Gabe and telling what he knows.
As in previous books, the reader is privy to the villain’s and cronies thoughts and some actions. One would think this would ruin the tension of the suspense element, but in reality it adds to it. The person is right in the middle of it all and seemed to be getting their way. I hated the gruesome body count and wanted justice to catch up with all who were involved.
The book introduced a huge cast and I teased out a few I can see getting the next books in this new portion of the series. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted after this all in a good way. There is more to be had from New Orleans and I look forward to getting back to it with the next installment. If you like your murder mysteries more police procedural laced with a gritty criminal underbelly and shining with true heroes on the side of justice, give this latest book or any of the past city sub-series a go.
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