St Martin’s Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-99306-4
Romantic Suspense, 2004
Selena Montgomery leaves behind her secret agents for a more down-to-earth serial killer romantic suspense in her St Martin’s Press debut. Never Tell is a very melodramatic tale with the heroine being such an amusing freak magnet; it is hard to take the story seriously. Then again, does anyone take those TV shows CSI or Crossing Jordan seriously?
Sssh, don’t tell, but a few years ago Analise Glover realized that the linguistics professor at the university was stealing her research. She confronted Nathan Rhodes but that crazy man tried to kill her instead. So she killed him. In an “Oopsie” manner, of course. Today, she is Dr Erin Abbott, a criminal psychology professor. Some serial killer is making mincemeat in the streets of New Orleans and this villain thoughtfully sends her gift packages, the first one containing obituaries of his victims. Erin suspects that Nathan Rhodes is still alive and is toying with her. Oh no! He knows what she so did in that summer! Alas, nobody, including the cops, believes her.
Gabriel Moss is trying to keep his late father’s newspaper in business and he believes that a scoop may just do the trick. He decides that Erin knows some useful information that can help him get his scoop. Never mind that there is a serial killer out there, he and Erin feel an attraction to each other that she tries hard to resist. She doesn’t want him to know what she did that summer, understandably. Gabe however has glimpsed the supermodel waiting to be unleashed from under that prim and proper professorly clothes and he’s definitely interested in, er, seeing more.
Ms Montgomery exercises judicious care with the pacing and this book never loses its momentum as the story chugs towards its pleasantly unpredictable, if very, very, very over-the-top denouement. Because this story focuses on Gabe and Erin, there is more room for characterization here, therefore these characters are a little deeper than the usual stereotypes that they could have been. This may as well be for the best as the mystery itself isn’t strong thanks to some rather illogical contrivances that set up a “them versus the disbelievers” scenario for Gabe and Erin.
With its high melodrama quotient, Never Tell comes off as a well-paced, well-written but somewhat campy story featuring two likable characters. It is a very entertaining read, lurid moments and all, and it is only the really too over-the-top denouement that nearly derails the story and subsequently prevents me from giving it more oogies.