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
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.
I love the Romantic Suspense series. I’ve read them all. I started the series with the first Cincinnati book, with Faith and Deacon. It was actually #16 overall. Then I went back and read the previous 15 books. I would not jump into this in the middle of the series. One could start at the beginning of a city since those stories connect well, and they seem to be labelled on Goodreads.
The Romantic Suspense books are long, about double the size of a normal book but the author uses every word to our pleasure. Her development of a world and its characters is masterful. Quarter to Midnight is the first in a new city – New Orleans. So it is only the beginning of this story arc.
In New Orleans, our core group, is a private detective agency filled with former law enforcement officers, so also well-connected to many law enforcement officers. They know there is corruption in the department and some of them have been subject to discrimination because they were honest. Honest cops are a threat to those on the take.
The case here is a former cop’s death being covered up as a suicide when it is not. The cop was investigating a cold case murder and interestingly everyone around that cold case keeps dying. His son, Gabe hires the PI firm to find out what happened to his father. Burke, the head of the PI firm, was his father’s old partner. It becomes a master class in security and witness protection as the criminals try to kill everyone who might know anything including the PIs and their families.
I love how realistic the characters are. They are not perfect but they have authentic feelings and work so hard, but they have some flaws which sometimes gets them hurt. Luckily, the bad guys are also realistic and don’t make perfect choices either, which helps to get them caught. The course of the investigation is brutal with its life and death consequences and suspenseful because true to life, not everyone makes it out alive. Overall, the strategies are smart and the operatives are competent.
This grim, fast-paced evil is balanced by the compassion and relationships between the “good guys” and their families. I love the pieces of black, white, gray in a flow of the events over the course of the investigation. There is also the romance here between the son, Gabe, who is a restauranteur and pastry chef, and Molly, the main PI assigned to his case and protection. He goes from being suspicious of her and her abilities to respecting and loving her.
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