March 12, 2024

Book Review


reviewed by Sandra Hoover


Goodreads | Crossmyheartbookreviews

Cheater by Author Karen Rose is the second book in the San Diego Case Files and the twenty-ninth book in the Romantic Suspense series.  Readers met the main characters in the first book Cold Blooded Liar, and while surprised, I was glad to see Kit and Sam’s story continue. 

For fans who may fear picking this one up without having read book one, you’ll have no issue as Rose is meticulous in providing enough backstory for readers to jump in at any point.

Det. Kit McKittrick and her partner, Connor, are called to the affluent Shady Oaks retirement facility when a resident is found stabbed to death.  When it’s discovered the victim was a former decorated police officer who’s apparently been murdered over a discovery he made, things quickly escalate.  Psychologist Dr. Sam Reeves assists in the investigation as he has an established rapport with several of the patients as both a volunteer and doctor.  The only one unhappy to see him is Kit as she continues denying her feelings and holding him at bay.  A second untimely death ramps up the urgency along with the discovery of a major theft.  There’s a killer targeting patients at the retirement home, and Kit is determined to identify them before another life is lost.  It’s clear someone connected to the home is running an elaborate scheme and profiting off the citizens, then killing when in danger of discovery.  Unfortunately, Kit and her team run into one dead end after another.  Can they identify a killer before another life is lost?

Cheater is an intriguing whodunnit police procedure style mystery with a pale side of romance.  The retirement home setting supports a large cast of unique, aging characters, some of whom are quite flamboyant, colorful and humorous which helps lighten the tone.  The complex, intricately woven plot line is typical of the author with meticulous details and breadcrumbs for both the police and readers to follow.  Several plausible red herrings keep Kit and readers guessing.  As the story unfolds, Kit and Sam dance around the attraction simmering between them with both afraid to make the first move.  While the overall plot line is complex, the story lingers a bit long in the center before picking up again in the final third heading into the climax.  

Author Karen Rose is one of my favorite authors in the suspense thriller genre.  I’m familiar with her style of writing and have spent many a late-night devouring one of her books. Cheater has a different vibe than her past work, and some may find it lacking in the typical darkness and sense of malice, evil and urgency normally found in Rose’s books. It’s entirely possible it’s intentional, and the author’s going in a new direction with the San Diego series.  Rose does an excellent job of highlighting the competency of women in roles of power through Kit’s character while also showing her vulnerability when it comes to family and the man she thinks deserves better than her.  Recommended to fans of lighter mysteries, thrillers and romance suspense.


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