Every Dark Corner is the third book in the Cincinnati series and it follows on directly from Alone in the Dark, so it is important you read the books in the intended order, otherwise you won’t be able to follow the story as well.
As Decker lies in a medical induced coma after being shot at the end of Alone in the Dark, FBI Agent Kate Coppola stays by his side as she tries to find evidence of the child trafficking ring on his laptop.
While Kate fights to maintain a professional demeanour, she can’t help being drawn to the man lying in the bed but the trauma of her past weighs heavily. Kate moved to Cincinnati to start a new life after the death of her husband and the suicide of her brother-in-law and she’s not sure if she has the emotional strength to deal with whatever bond she is developing with Decker.
When Decker finally comes out of his coma, memories of his time undercover with the traffickers begin to surface but they soon realise not all the perpetrators have been caught when an attempt is made on Decker’s life. Piecing together what little information they have, Kate and the others have to track down a man known as The Professor, a man who disguises himself to sell drugs and uses the vulnerability of his customers to blackmail them into being his informants and to commit crimes. However, The Professor’s network has a long reach and he will kill anyone who gets in his way.
If you’ve read as many Karen Rose novels as I have, then you pretty much know what you are going to get as she sticks to the same winning formula of having a hero and heroine with emotional baggage of some kind who fall for each other in order to get that elusive happy ending. Most of the characters in her previous books were running from violent pasts, however most of the time it was relevant to the plot. Nowadays, Rose is not only giving her characters painful pasts to deal with, she is also throwing medical conditions into the mix, and while I think it is commendable to spotlight these issues, it is all just too much. For example, Kate Coppola, our intrepid FBI agent, is dealing with the trauma of losing her husband of barely a year to a brain tumour but also the suicide of her brother-in-law (brother of said husband) who decides to blow his head off with Kate’s gun and in her apartment. As if that isn’t enough to be dealing with, Kate is also suffering from ADHD and PTSD which has left her needing to keep her hands occupied by compulsively knitting or doing origami. Oh, and her father was quite abusive. Any one of these things would’ve been enough to be getting on with, but all of them together? Overkill.
In the same way, Decker has issues because of his time as a foster kid and just to ensure he is emotionally invested in this storyline, he had a sister who died at the hands of a paedophile who he eventually tracked down and killed. And, don’t forget his time in the military where he saw all sorts of bad things and lost his lady friend to a landmine. Decker has been undercover for years which apparently makes him a bad prospect for a stable relationship, according to Kate’s friend, Deacon Novak, however Decker seems far more stable than Kate and his powers of recovery are positively amazing. Barely less than a week after waking from his coma, Decker is not only involved in the case, he is having fairly athletic sex with Kate.
While there has always been a hefty dose of sex in Rose’s novels, generally the two main characters are given the time to get to know one other before they get horizontal, however the past few novels seem to be focused on getting them together much faster and the romance part is sadly lacking. Part of this is down to the fact, Rose is compressing her storyline into smaller timeframes and the events of Every Dark Corner are packed into the space of only a few days which doesn’t allow the plot to breathe. Timeframes like this work better with characters who are all ready well-established in their relationship, and it is ridiculous to think Kate and Decker have gotten this far with him in a coma for most of it. Then again, Kate did admit to checking out Decker’s “package” while he was unconscious and she excuses her actions because she knows he’s going to live. It would have only been creepy and perverted if he had been dying, apparently.
This gives the impression I actually didn’t like the book very much but that’s not the case because the child pornography aspects were a harrowing read and this is the part of the plot I wished had gotten a little more attention. Rose used to create some truly creepy villains, I’m looking at you, Simon Vartanian, and while The Professor tries hard to fall into this category, he doesn’t quite get there because he is too fallible. The techniques he uses to ensnare kids though are horrifying and the aftermath for those who have appeared in the videos shared online is not a pretty one. However, in Rose’s world there is always a character who has gone through a similar experience available to help get your life back on track, if only real life worked that way.