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No Safe Place
by JoAnn Ross
(Pocket, $7.50, R) ISBN 1-4165-0166-5
***
If you like a mystery with a lot of sex that passes for romance, then No Safe Place is the tale for you. For me, I liked the two characters and that saved it from being a little too long and a lot too much sheet action mixed in with a conventional story of suspense.

Kate Delaney is a Chicago cop who has just finished testifying in a police corruption case in which she is the star witness. Needless to say, she is persona non gratis on the force now and has been placed on administrative leave. Just when she has to figure out what to do, she gets a call that her twin sister is dead from an apparent suicide. Kate hightails it from Chicago to New Orleans. When she starts making demands that they investigate this as a murder, she is referred to new PI Nick Broussard.

Nick is an ex-Navy SEAL who did a stint on the NOPD, only to be suspended for suspected bribe taking. Now he has started his own PI shop and his former partner Remy Lamareaux has referred the beautiful but oh-so by-the-book Kate to him. Nick is currently investigating corruption in the NOPD, even though it looks like he was on the take. He is mixed up with bad guys Leon and Stephen LaBlanc. Kate’s sister Desiree Doucette, nee Tara, is mixed up in it too. In fact, Desiree was a hooker for the LaBlanc organization who was giving info to Nick.

As Nick and Kate start to investigate, they are shot at and their vehicle is blown up. Luckily the shot missed and they were not in their car when it exploded. The complications are many, as it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad, with a whole slew of cops on the take. Add to the fact that Nick isn’t sure if they want him or Kate dead, and you have a prime mystery on your hands.

Kate and Nick are likable, because they are good cops when all is said and done. Nick is also one sexy Cajun, even speaking French when he is making love and throwing out “cherie” when flirting. Kate is initially very conservative, almost to the point of prudishness. But she has reason to be and she loosens up with Nick. The sex scenes were long and drawn out almost to the point of overkill. And the fact that they have such a strong connection…even bordering on love talk…after just a few days dimmed things a little. But their interactions are full of fun, flirting and downright sexiness.

Ross throws in lots of New Orleans, specifically the travails of post-Katrina New Orleans. There is the predictable bayou scene that seems to be required in every story set in Louisiana and what would a story be without the Voodoo influence. Kate and Nick both have childhoods that helped shaped them and influence the story in ways that are easily seen from afar. These unsurprising parts of the tale didn’t add anything, although they were not too distracting either.

Overall Ross has written a decent story that has some truly enjoyable moments. No Safe Place is, in fact, a safe, predictable, acceptable tale that breaks no new ground.

--Shirley Lyons


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