Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ARC Review: Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose

Series:     Baltimore #5
Pub. Date:Aug. 29, 2017
Publisher:Berkley
Length:512 pages
Source:NetGalley

This is my first read by Karen Rose... and I picked it up because I was in the mood for a good suspense/thriller story. Monster in the Closet is the 5th book in Rose's Baltimore series, and 19th overall in her romantic suspense lineup.  Prior to reading the book, I did not realize that all of the books are interconnected, told within the same universe and a somewhat common cast of characters. If I had known that ahead of time, I probably would not have started with this book. However, I stumbled along just fine and was able to follow the story. I was just missing all the backstory on the characters.  I think if I knew everyone's back story, I would have enjoyed this book even more. So I would recommend following the reading order if you have the time.

This story does not clearly delineate a defined romantic pairing and hero/heroine like I am most accustomed to in romantic suspense. Instead, we are following a close knit group of individuals and family with a tad more focus on Taylor Dawson and Ford Elkhart. 

Taylor Dawson has shown up at the Helping Hands Ranch to intern and help traumatized children. But she was a traumatized child herself, and is actually in Baltimore for ulterior motives. Taylor wants to observe her birth father, Clay Maynard, whom she grew up believing was the boogeyman. Unfortunately, Taylor's ruse doesn't last long and she will have to confront her fears and the man pretty early on in the story. Except lots of teary moments when you are reading about Taylor and her two dads. As her personal drama unfolds, Taylor also stumbles into the crosshairs of a murderous junkie narcissist, and that gives us our main plot conflict. 

Almost the entire staff and extended family of the Helping Hands crew will be pitching in to find a murderer, and they seem like an interesting cast of characters. I was really missing their back stories because I know that they had some doozies. And it would have helped me follow the story better... there were so many POVs and characters that I couldn't keep names/identities straight and not everyone got equal playing time, sometimes seeming to drop out of the story altogether. I kept confusing Daphne and Maggie, Deacon and several people, and I seem to have lost J.D. somewhere in the wrap up at the end. One thing that I can say is that I would not want to hang around these people... and not for the reason you think.  They are freaking unlucky man! All of them seem to have been through some horrific event. So I think I will just admire them from afar lest I get kidnapped by a serial killer or something.

I really enjoyed the suspense plot in this book. Be ready to move along at a fast clip because the majority of the story takes place over only two days. While the big bad was truly vile, I thought the cops were pretty savvy and I liked that they were smarter than the criminals. He wasn't able to fool them much or for long, and I loved that they could see through some of the villainous plots. 

There was a little bit of romance in the story, but it wasn't the main focus. I think that the storyline would have been just as good without the romance, which seemed to be jammed in higgedly piggedly at times. Though now I am curious to go back and start the romantic suspense books from the beginning as I do love to build relationships with characters over time throughout a long-running series.  Hopefully I can get to that within the next year.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this that I received from the publisher, Berkley.