Back for their sixth go-around, FBI Agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan return for Carla Neggers’ Liar’s Key, which follows last year’s Keeper’s Reach.
The story begins with Gordon Wheelock, a retired FBI agent, swinging by the Massachusetts office of Emma Sharpe. Wheelock is somewhat of a legend amongst FBI agents, having had a long and successful career. So when he tells Emma that he was recently at a party with Oliver York and heard rumblings about ancient mosaics that were stolen, Emma is intrigued. It’s also personal.
Many years prior, Emma’s grandfather was hot on Oliver’s trail. Wendell Sharpe founded Sharpe Fine Art Recovery and spent more than a decade chasing Oliver, a notorious art thief. In the end, though, Oliver avoided prosecution by striking a deal with Britain’s MI5, rendering him untouchable for his many crimes, even today.
But when the body of someone who has ties to the situation is found unexpectedly, Emma realizes there’s more going on than meets the eye. For starters, she’d known for years that her grandfather was holding back information on Oliver, but now she senses something far more foul-smelling between the two men.
Joining the investigation is Emma’s fiancé and trusted companion, Colin Donovan, an undercover expert with a keen sense of awareness and a finely-tuned BS detector. His presence is a welcome addition to a story that starts slow but picks up the pace about sixty-five pages in.
Also present are Emma’s brother, Lucas, and an Irish priest named Finian Bracken. Both of them play fairly important roles, making an already supporting cast even stronger.
With a murderer on the loose and evidence mounting that, if true, will leave Emma between a rock and a hard place both professionally and personally, she and Donovan must work quickly to solve the puzzle and put a stop to the bloodshed.
However, as Emma will soon find out, sometimes the pursuit of truth leads to an internal battle with oneself, because once the cat is out of the bag, things will never again be the same.
By no means is this an action-packed story, as it falls more in line with something between a soap opera and a Law and Order episode.
While the mystery itself is entertaining and full of suspense, it takes a bit too long to really take off. Readers may be tempted to quit during the floor-laying portions where Neggers is setting the stage and introducing her characters. Those who press on, though, will find a few surprises waiting for them in the second half of the book.
Neggers utilizes a large cast of characters, which is great for longtime fans of the series. The flip side to that is new readers may feel a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up with everyone while developing a sense for who they are beneath the surface.
Also, there’s a little more of a romance-type feel in this book than in most traditional thriller or suspense novels, which is consistent with earlier novels in the series.
While the beginning is slow, the final act is driven by conspiracy and suspense. Some will see the ending coming, but even then, many will simply enjoy the ride. Others may be fairly shocked. Either way, I thought the ending was tidy and satisfying.
If you’re into mysteries and conspiracies, and can make it through some of the dull, uneventful beginning chapters, Liar’s Key will meet your suspense-seeking needs.
Author: Carla Neggers
Pages: 316 (Hardcover)
Release Date: August 30, 2016 (Order now!)