You Belong to Me by Karen Rose

Audiobook narrated by Marguerite Gavin

 Karen Rose’s romantic suspense has set the high bar for tightly plotted, realistic police procedurals with a romance organically woven in. You Belong to Me kicks off a new series set in Baltimore and as anyone who is familiar with her style knows, the action starts with the discovery of a murder victim and the tension doesn’t let up until the last page. Medical examiner Lucy Trask and homicide detective JD Fitzpatrick literally meet over their victim’s corpse and team up to solve what turns into a series of brutal murders. Soon it becomes apparent that all of the victims hail from a nearby small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which just happens to be the home town Lucy left behind as a teenager. JD realizes that convincing Lucy to spill the town’s secrets is the key to stopping the murder spree. But as much as Lucy wants to help, she’s as much in the dark about what turned someone she may know into a mad serial killer as the detectives are. Reluctantly agreeing to return to the place that holds dark secrets and memories for her, Lucy and JD work together, get their man, and fall in love. The entire book takes place over the course of a few days and the pace is frenetic.

Narrator Marguerite Gavin is well-suited for the fast-paced, nail-biting suspense Rose specializes in. She reads fast and punches it up as the tension mounts. Her character voices are well delineated and I never got lost despite the large and diverse cast of secondary characters. Gavin is exceptionally good at natural sounding male/female dialogue. I wanted to applaud as I listened to conversations between Lucy and JD. How does she do it? Have a conversation with oneself in two different voices and genders. Bravo.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an aspect of Gavin’s narration that was an infrequent, but baffling distraction. There are several long passages where I heard a pronounced lisp and slurring. I wasted time wondering if she hadn’t warmed up or her mouth was dry or she was tired or whatever. In any case the listener shouldn’t have to worry about it and the sub-par passages should be rerecorded. Gavin is capable of perfect diction as evidenced by her crisp reading of most of the book. The unevenness bothered me, though.
Nevertheless, FULL MOONS for both Karen Rose and Marguerite Gavin. I love a good thriller.

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