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With Malice    by Rachel Lee order for
With Malice
by Rachel Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Initially the brutal slayings of two women on the same night seem unrelated. The first victim, Abigail Reese, is the beloved nanny of high profile senator Grant Lawrence, and was killed at the senator's Florida mansion. Karen Sweeney, homicide detective in charge of both investigations, believes Abigail's death was the result of a botched robbery. The second victim, known only as 'Jane Doe', is a beautiful young dancer who's throat was slashed and who was dumped in an alley a short distance away. After questioning everyone involved, including Grant Lawrence and his right hand man Jerry Connelly, the perceptive detective senses that both men are hiding something.

Karen's investigation takes her to Washington, where there's an attempt on the Senator's life. While Karen is recuperating, her partner in Miami uncovers more evidence about the murdered dancer -- she and Lawrence had had a short-lived affair. When Karen discovers that Connelly moved the dancer's body from the Senator's home in an effort to avoid scandal, she's livid. Connelly, however, isn't sorry - he's determined to guard the Senator (also his good friend) at all costs, even if he goes to jail for obstructing justice. Lawrence isn't happy with Connelly's involvement, yet backs him all the way - he's deadly determined to do whatever it takes to guard his two young daughters from scandal.

As Karen's investigations continue, she faces one roadblock after another. Everyone in Washington seems to have a hidden agenda. Who among Lawrence's many rivals might resort to murder to destroy his chances for the presidency? As Karen and Lawrence work closely together to find answers, a mutual attraction develops, one they can't suppress despite close scrutiny from the press and from Grant's rivals. Only when the senator's beloved daughters are taken do the pieces begin to fall into place -- this was no political conspiracy at all; this was something much more personal.

Rachel Lee gifts her fans with another knock out book, this time a nifty thriller set against a backdrop of Washington power brokering. As always her characters shine - particularly her leads, Grant and Karen, two people who know better than to let business mix with pleasure, but who can't deny their feelings. Lee introduces a great cast of secondaries, especially Karen's liaison from the DC police department, Terry Tyson, and there's a nice assortment of red herrings to keep readers guessing. The killer's identity is revealed far sooner than expected but from that point on, Lee keeps the story rolling full steam ahead as Karen, Lawrence and a stellar team of FBI agents try desperately to find the Senator's daughters.

With Malice is one of the best romantic suspense novels Rachel Lee has written and fans of this genre are urged to pick up a copy!

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