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Scream For Me    by Karen Rose order for
Scream For Me
by Karen Rose
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When Karen Rose first debuted on the romantic suspense scene in 2004, she established herself as an author to watch. Since then she's proven that she has talent to spare when it comes to balancing gritty, headline grabbing plotlines with rich, character-driven romantic sub-plots. Scream for Me is no exception.

The story begins only a few weeks after serial killer, Simon Vartanian (Die for Me) is gunned down after an unprecedented, years-long killing spree that he'd hoped to culminate with his elder brother's gruesome, drawn-out death. But once special agent Daniel Vartanian heads home to Georgia to put his fractured life and career back together, he discovers that the horrors his brother had perpetrated were only the tip of the iceberg. It appears that Simon had a cadre of accomplices that he'd been grooming long before he set out on his solitary path of revenge and murder.

Women from Daniel's hometown of Dutton, Georgia are being ritualistically murdered. Each of the victims is linked to a set of disturbing photographs that Daniel had discovered in Simon's possession. Days later a young mother and former drug addict also goes missing. Is she another victim, or has Bailey simply reverted back to her old drug-addicted ways, as many of the uncharitable Dutton townsfolk believe?

Dutton holds no fond memories for Alex Fallon. After her mother's and twin sister's gruesome deaths, and Alex's own narrow escape, she'd prefer never to set foot in the community again. But she's determined to find Bailey and prove to the spiteful townsfolk that her stepsister had not succumbed to drugs and would certainly never abandon her beloved little girl.

Daniel is assigned the case and when he first meets strong-minded Alex Fallon, he believes she's a ghost. But once she explains that she's the twin sister of one of the woman depicted in Simon's photos, he and Alex quickly join forces to track down Bailey. Their mutual attraction is swift and undeniable, and soon Daniel begins to understand the wonder of experiencing real love, an emotion his parents never expressed toward each other or to their children. As Daniel and Alex's investigation heats up and they uncover more and more clues - some of which involve shocking secrets from both their pasts - Simon's anonymous accomplices initiate a series of increasingly desperate acts. They also discover that someone else is orchestrating their brand of vengeance against them.

Scream for Me once again offers up all the ingredients that Karen Rose's fans have come to expect: a dark, twisted and surprise-filled plot, tight pacing, and another large and stellar cast of characters, both new and old. One thing that always shines through in Rose's stories, no matter how dark and disturbing the plot, is a strong sense of love and family. Neither Daniel's nor Alex's back story suggests they had the benefit of either while growing up, making their attraction and romance all the more poignant as they both discover real love for the first time.

When it comes to hard-edged romantic suspense, Scream for Me is another fine example. Rose still has not tied up all the loose ends, however. A dark mastermind remains at large - here's hoping his or her identity and agenda will be revealed in Karen Rose's next gripping thriller.

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