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Cavanaugh on Duty
by Marie Ferrarella
(HRS #1751, $5.50, PG) ISBN 978-0-373-27821-3
By including books in all publishers' series, this is the 13th book in Marie Ferrarella’s Cavanaugh Justice series and far too much of the story is directed to outlining the relationships established in the prior novels.

This story opens as Esteban Fernandez realizes his undercover life is over as a bullet narrowly misses him. He runs, finds the department safe house and then learns in short order he is being reassigned to the homicide division of the police department. This unwanted assignment also comes with a partner in the person of Kari Cavelli-Cavanaugh. He is so reluctant that he is given 24 hours to accept the assignment or face the consequences of what happens to an officer who refuses orders.

When Kari meets him in the Chief of Detective's office she has the feeling that she knows him under the name of Steve, and in fact had been in high school with him. The Chief of Detectives, among many other highly placed people in the department is a Cavanaugh, and expects her to change Esteban's mind.

Esteban, formerly known as Steve in high school is in fact the person Kari thinks he is. During college his life changed when his younger stepbrother died of a drug overdose.  In an uncontrollable rage, his stepfather found the drug dealer, killed him, turned himself in, is tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Steve changed his name, changed his focus and vowed to take down the cartel responsible.

From the talented, popular and smart high school hero quarterback, Steve has become singularly focused, embittered and rude. After the meeting Kari discovers his apartment address and presents herself at the door. She, of course, is beautiful, upbeat, very self confident and relentless. So she persuades him to show up for work as her new partner.

Immediately they are assigned to a new homicide. The deceased is found rolled in an oriental carpet stored in a storage locker with his throat slashed and a rough drawing of the scales of justice on his chest. Their tenuous relationship starts and begins to evolve as they are confronted with a second victim.

More victims crop up, and time is taken out for one of the typical Cavanaugh weddings where finally Kari breaks down Steve's barriers and the romance flourishes. The crimes become incidental to the evolving relationship between Kari and Steve. His capitulation to her charm is as expected as the resolution of the identity of the serial thrasher.

New readers would be well advised to start with one of Marie Ferrarella's earlier novels, which are fully deserving of their 4 and 5 heart ratings.

--Tnea Davis

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