Karen Rose -You Belong to Me

When forensic pathologist Lucy Trask stumbles across a mutilated body by the chess tables in her local Baltimorepark, its face so badly damaged it is unrecognisable, her sole concern is that it might be her old school teacher Mr Pugh.

When the corpse is identified, Lucy is shocked to discover that the victim is actually another man from her past. Who killed him and why his skin is burnt with the number ‘1’ is unclear but it’s evident that someone is demanding Lucy’s attention.

The discovery of a second branded body raises worrying questions: how many more lives may be at risk before the killer’s final message is revealed? And can Lucy solve the killer’s gruesome puzzle before their thirst for revenge is complete?

I’ve a weak spot for forensic pathologists. Starting with Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, Bones’ Cam, Castle’s Lauren and Tess Gerritsen’s Dr. Maura Isles, I love them one and all. So when I read the blurb for You Belong to Me, I was immediately intrigued. And for good reason, as it turns out. Once Ms Rose’s latest novel grabbed me, it didn’t let go again until I finished it. You Belong to Me moves at a frantic pace, with the action, the prologue and epilogue excepted, taking place in the space of just two days.

The book is both a crime novel and a romance. The crime part is compelling. While the book is – at its core – your typical revenge story, the how, what, and who is interesting and so well written, I couldn’t put the book down. I loved the detective team of JD Fitzpatrick and Stevie Mazzetti. They had an interesting mix of partnership and “off the job”-back story. They’re comfortable with each other, without there having to be a spark between them, other than friendship. A nice addition to the police procedural (which actually makes it less of a straight one) is Clay Maynard, ex-cop/private detective. Clay is a cool character, he’s your typical gruff and rough PI, who at the same time cares deeply for those he feels responsible for. He comes at the case from the other side of the fence, trying to find out what happened to his partner and his search adds an interesting angle to the overall mystery. Plus, not being a cop, Clay gets to do things in a way that JD and Stevie can’t afford to do, without jeopardising their case. I particularly liked his conversations with Mazzetti, as they’re very funny and play to the stereotypes of the usual portrayal of cop versus PI interactions.

The romance half, while somewhat unbelievable because of the time frame and a case of insta-love/lust, is also rather sweet and adds some counterpoint tension to the mystery. The main characters of the book are JD and Lucy. Their chemistry is great and one of the reasons I wasn’t as bothered by the insta-love as I normally would have been. Instead, what is in fact a whirlwind romance, reads as if the relationship has time to slowly bloom into something more than just animal attraction. There were some pretty tender scenes there, that drew me in and actually made me root for these two to get through it and get together. Lucy is a strong female character, with some interesting background. By day the icily professional forensic pathologist, at night she transforms (no, not into a vampire!) and it’s this secret life that makes her so appealing. Her need for absolute compartmentalisation of the different facets of her life is both intriguing – not just to the reader, but to JD as well – and a hindrance to the cops in solving the case. Seeing JD struggle to open up the different compartments in her life, to win her trust and her heart and to find the missing pieces to solve his case, is fascinating and Ms Rose succeeds in showing us said struggle without giving us too many frustrated *headdesk*-moments because you just want these two to talk to one another already, which is a feat in itself.

The resolution of the whodunnit, the unveiling of the murderer, took me completely by surprise. I hadn’t expected this culprit’s identity at all. But, while unexpected, it was not necessarily a blind sight, in retrospect there were clues, but due to the plot’s misdirections, I just hadn’t put them together. You Belong to Me is a page turner and a definite recommendation, just make sure you have a long stretch of time free as you won’t want to put it down.

This book was sent to me for review by the publisher.

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  • Personally, I love books that take place over a short period of time. I write a lot that way. To me, it makes the character's trials more immediate, more stunning as you are gripped with them every moment of the way instead of having odd, “two weeks later” or even “next spring” sentences where I am left going, wait, what happen in that time? How did they change? Did they change? I feel as if I have blind spots in the book. Given that, usually I use more than two days, and my romances often have roots in previous relationships or still stand on tentative exploration at the end of the book. However, not to say a romance can't happen that fast if written well. I'm not fond of procedurals, but discovering how a romance could work out, and how all the elements you discuss can come into play fascinates me