Tell Me No Lies
by Annie Solomon, contemporary (2004)
Warner, $5.99, ISBN 0-446-61357-6

Annie Solomon's third romantic suspense Tell Me No Lies is a deftly-written story that actually manages to deliver a few thrills. Unfortunately, its greatest drawback is its reliance on the heroine keeping secrets to herself even when it defies common sense to do so in order to keep the story going. If a reader can somehow overlook this frustrating aspect of the story, he or she may have a good time. I almost have a good time, but unfortunately, I suspect that I will have an even better time if I can reach into the book and throttle the heroine to shake some sense into her.

Alexandra Baker saves the town of Sokanan when she arranges with the Russian tycoon Miki Petrov to dig for oil and resurrect the economy of the dying town. But while she is being toasted for her success, a shopkeeper, Luka Kole is murdered. Det Hank Bonner steps in to investigate what seems like a bungled robbery gone out-of-hand, only to discover a clue linking Alex's Renaissance Oil to this murder. As he tries to investigate deeper, he finds himself attracted to Alex, only to learn that her closet is bursting with secrets.

Hank is a standard tortured hero - his baggage here is he not able to save his sister from being killed by her abusive husband. He intends to quit the force after solving this case to help his mother take care of his sister's two kids. Alex is also a standard tortured heroine, and while I won't delve into her baggages as they constitute a big part of the plot, let me just say that she's no Miss Sunshine either. Ms Solomon, however, doesn't reveal Alex's reasons for her stubborn silence until late in the story, and even then, I'm not sure if I want to forgive Alex for putting me through some frustrating moments when I just want to strangle her for her recalcitrance silence and refusal to cooperate with Hank. Even worse, Alex often tries to sabotage Hank's investigations. Her reasons for doing so are so lame that there are times when I can't help thinking that they have shot the wrong person in the story.

I can't overlook the fact that this story is well-paced and there are some very interesting turn of events here (I find some plot twists a little on the implausible side, but hey, they are interesting nonetheless). But egads, I lost count of how many times I want to strangle the heroine. There are enough good points about this well-written romantic suspense for me to recommend it, but with the heroine being the way she is, this book can easily go up or down in any direction with the reader. Proceed with caution - the title of this book is more appropriate for the story than the reader would like it to be.

Rating: 78

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