Beverly Barton's 'Don't Say A Word': A Review
I'm always excited when a reader gives me a book that they want my opinion on. I also can't back down when I'm challenged to figure out a mystery faster than the person making the request. It always interests me to see what kinds of stories other people are drawn to, finding out what stories are appealing to them. I was curious when I was asked to review Barton, since I've not had the chance read any of her work before. What awaited me was a new type of genre, romantic mystery. While romance isn't necessarily my forte, I pressed on through the book thinking 'Don't Say A Word' might change my mind. Granted, after reading this book, my opinion remains unchanged.
Special Agent Will Brannock, is a very private person. So private that his best friend, fellow special agent J.D. Cass, doesn't know anything about him. Will's mysterious past prevents him from opening up to anyone, or having serious relationships that last longer than a few days. While most consider him egotistical and callous, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Will's world is soon turned upside down when he meets J.D.'s kid sister Detective Julia Cass. While she is just as guarded as Will, her spirit is a little more free and Will can't help but be infatuated with her. Much to Will's delight, they are teamed up to solve a brutal series of murders by a maniac dubbed The Tongue Slasher. The Tongue Slasher is targeting corrupt members of higher society, ranging from members of the press to judges. His trademark, as you may have guessed, is cutting out the tongues of his victims. Baffled, Will and Julia are striving to solve the case, but at the same time trying their best to deny the feelings that are quickly blossoming between the two. However, little do they know that the culprit is a little closer to home than they realize, especially for Julia.
Ok. I see 'Don't Say A Word' as a romance first and a mystery second. While it's clear that there is a particularly nasty crime going on, the focus of the story stays with the way Julia and Will deal with their feelings for each other. The sexual tension between the two is so thick that I could cut it with a knife, and I was bored with it rather quickly. I actually wanted the two to jump into bed, just to get it out of the way. The crime aspect of the story was weak. With such heavy foreshadowing, I had the killer and motive pegged within the first few chapters. Even the romance aspect of the story left a lot to be desired. Honestly, it seemed like more a physical attraction than anything. One good point is that the main characters are rather interesting. Both are driven from past tragedies that have shaped them into the people they are today. While the mystery surrounding Will's past is hidden well, it's the only part of the story that left me curious. With the exception of Will's backstory, the entire novel is absolutely paper thin. Will's past being the exception, I saw everything coming light years before Barton actually revealed it. I recognize that another writer was brought in to finish the story in Barton's name, but since the novel is solely under the name of one author, I will consider it a work by a single person. The awful way the story is given away and the thick chemistry between Will and Julia is nothing short of annoying, which forces me to grant the story two stars, one for each of the love starved agents.
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