A Killer Among Us
by Lynette Eason
(Revell, $14.99, PG) ISBN 978-0-8007-3371-1
In this third book in the Women of Justice series, Kit Kenyon is a police detective in ….

Oh boy, I’ve got a problem. I rely on the author to tell me where and when a story is set. That’s not happening here.

Maybe it’s because this is the third book in the series, and it’s assumed that all readers have read the two previous books. More than halfway through the book the characters are pursuing a lead in Raleigh, North Carolina. ‘Finally,’ I think, ‘they’re in North Carolina.’ No, they’re going to North Carolina. They’re driving so they must be somewhere in the vicinity, but the exact location is never stated. Obviously, setting is not a big part of the story.

A Killer Among Us is an inspirational romantic suspense novel. Juggling all those elements can be tricky so setting gets shunted aside. Even so, I really like knowing where and when a story is set. I guess this time I’ll have to be content knowing it’s a contemporary set somewhere near North Carolina.

To return to the synopsis: Kit Kenyon is a police detective in a city somewhere-not-too-far-from-North-Carolina. She’s both a hostage negotiator and a homicide detective who’s recently been partnered with fellow detective Noah Lambert. They’re attracted to each other, but they’re resolved not to let that interfere with their work.

Kit learned not long before that she was adopted as an infant. She has been reunited with her birth family including her identical twin sister. (All of this is integrated into the plot. Events in the two previous books figure prominently into the character motivation in this one.) Kit is both thrilled to have a family and still working through some separation/resentment issues.

Noah is a solid beta male character. He’s firmly grounded in his faith, says grace before meals, and gives his pastor’s phone number to crime victims in need of counseling. Of course, he’s also physically attractive with lots of sex appeal. He hopes that Kit will see she needs to get closer to God.

Meanwhile, the slain and mutilated body of a law student is discovered. And then another and another. The weapons and methods differ, but a miniature gavel is dropped near each body. Is a serial killer (the reader knows he calls himself the “Judge”) targeting individuals because they’re law students or for some other reason?

This review wouldn’t be complete without mention of the inspirational aspect. When writing an inspirational novel, an author needs to integrate the religious message with the plot. The best inspirational novels do this seamlessly — an inspirational novel is not a sermon; also it should not be a religious message in search of a plot. The suspense element of A Killer Among Us is its strongest. The impression given is that the plot was set down first and then the religious elements were stuck in wherever possible. Sometimes it works — Noah recognizes a crime victim who is in need of counseling. Sometimes it doesn’t — Kit’s sudden intense religious experience seems forced.

A Killer Among Us is likely to appeal to a limited audience: those readers who want characters who are dealing with faith-based decisions within a romantic suspense plot. In addition, this book’s heavy dependence on the two prior books makes it a poor choice for those new to the series. Most readers will want to think twice.

--Lesley Dunlap

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