WATCH YOUR BACK – Karen Rose
Present Day Baltimore, Maryland
Not having read Karen Rose for a while, I did a little investigation on her website. From that I deduce—though I could be wrong—that this is the fifth book set in Baltimore, and that more current readers will have already met the lead characters, Baltimore PD Detective Stefania Mazzetti, and Clay Maynard, ex-Marine, private investigator and security expert. They may know that Clay recently saved Stevie's life when someone took a shot at her, though they may be unaware that this was the third attempt in a row on her life. Someone who has hated her for the last eight years realizes that this would be a good time to take his own revenge on her as no one would connect her death to him; they'd just think it was another try by the same person or group.
Stevie is on inactive duty at the moment because of the wound on her leg. She uses the time to dig back into old files because of an ongoing investigation into the activities of a group of dirty cops. Most people think that is the reason she has become a target. Clay is highly attracted to Stevie; he wants nothing more than to protect her, but she sends him on his way. She still mourns the eight year-old loss of her husband Paul and their son Paulie in a senseless convenience store shooting. All she has left is her job and her daughter Cordelia, born shortly after the tragedy.
An incredible amount of action, suspense, and relationship growth take place in less than a week's time, but then WATCH YOUR BACK is 565 pages long. There are also many characters involved—some met in earlier books, some not. One important person is the evil mastermind behind the deaths of Paul and Paulie and the extraordinary means taken to protect Stevie and Cordie. A connected plotline involving a young police officer's loss of a day in his life add much interest to the whole.
Don't be put off by the length of WATCH YOUR BACK. It's well written; the characters are interesting, and things move rapidly. The intensity picks up even more in the last third or so. I do think, however, that to get the most enjoyment, those new to the series should try to read some of the earlier books to get full understanding of the background and the cast.