Book review: You Belong to Me by Karen Rose

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A dealer in death, Karen Rose’s ace card is grisly, gruesome murder.

In You Belong to Me, the popular US author adds horrific mutilation, nail-biting suspense and a new romance for her long-suffering heroine, forensic pathologist Lucy Trask.

And, as Rose’s readers have come to expect, she serves it all up with her trademark attention to detail, fast-paced action, believable characters and subtle plotting.

With a memorable and cold-blooded serial killer who will stop at nothing in a merciless mission of deadly revenge, this is a story to both thrill and chill.

Lucy Trask is jogging through the park behind her Baltimore apartment when she discovers what she believes is the body of her old schoolteacher Jerry Pugh sitting at a chess table.

But this isn’t old Mr Pugh; it’s a man whose face has been beaten and crushed beyond recognition, his fingers amputated, his heart cut out and the numeral ‘1’ burnt into his back.

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the victim was found by Lucy and Detective JD Fitzpatrick, a former narcotics officer who is making a fresh start in the homicide department after the death of his wife, wants to find out why.

When the corpse is identified with the help of serial numbers on facial implants, Lucy is shocked to discover that the victim is actually another man from her past.

The discovery of a second branded body raises fears about just how close to home these killings are for Lucy and how many more lives could be a risk before the killer’s final message is revealed.

Can the police and forensics teams solve the murderer’s bloodthirsty puzzle before his or her desire for revenge is complete?

Meanwhile, the enigmatic Lucy is finding JD increasingly attractive – as well as having ‘tall, dark and handsome’ all sewn up in a very tidy package, he has a dangerous charm and a heart-melting softness at his core.

Could this be the start of a new romance in the midst of murder and mayhem?

Terrifying and addictive, You Belong to Me sees Rose at the top of her game.

(Headline, hardback, £14.99)