Series: New York Confidential #2
Published by Harlequin MIRA on March 29, 2016
Genres: Romantic suspense
Source: the publisher
Also by this author: Phantom Evil, The Hidden, Heart of Evil, Haunted Destiny, Deadly Fate, Darkest Journey
Everyone goes to Finnegan's…
It's a pub in lower Manhattan, run by the Finnegan family for generations and now owned by Kieran and her three brothers. Kieran Finnegan, who still works there whenever she can, has become a criminal psychologist—a fitting reaction, perhaps, to her less-than-lawful past.
Meanwhile, New York's Diamond District has been hit by a rash of thefts. No one's been killed—until now. FBI agent Craig Frasier is brought in to investigate; he and Kieran meet at a jewelry store in the middle of a heist. She's there to "unsteal" a flawless stone taken by her light-fingered youngest brother as an act of vengeance. He's there to stop the gang.
But the police and FBI soon discover that there are two gangs of diamond thieves, the original and a copycat group of killers. And the second group seems to think their scheme is as flawless as the stones they steal.
Thrown together by circumstance, drawn together by attraction, Kieran and Craig both end up working on the case. Unfortunately, there's more and more evidence that, somehow, the pub is involved. Because everyone goes to Finnegan's…
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
Flawless is a straightforward romantic-suspense novel set in New York City. And I wish I knew why I didn’t love it. Heather Graham is usually a pretty good storyteller, and on the whole I liked the two main characters, but something just didn’t quite jell for me. Close, but not quite.
For once, the blurb describes the book pretty accurately. Kieran is in the wrong place at the wrong time (albeit for the right reason); she is abducted in the course of a jewelry store robbery. Craig Frasier is an FBI agent who responds to the robbery and chases after the fleeing thieves. Once everything is under control, Kieran has to walk a very fine line for the rest of the book. She doesn’t want her youngest brother Danny to get in trouble, she doesn’t want the authorities to know about his juvie record, she doesn’t want her eldest brother to find out what an idiot Danny was, and (as the case goes on) she doesn’t want her family or their pub dragged into the case. And she really, really doesn’t want any personal fame or publicity. That means she ends up keeping a lot of secrets — from Craig and his partner as well as from her eldest brother.
The problem is, Kieran is both good and not good at keeping secrets. Craig knows there are things she’s not telling him. His gut says to trust her, but he’s too good an agent not to wonder why she was in the shop and if she was somehow involved with the thieves. And Kieran isn’t good at hiding the fact that she’s concealing something. At the same time, she stubbornly holds back when telling the truth might be a better move. I do understand why she doesn’t speak up. Even as their relationship deepens, she hasn’t known Craig all that long, certainly not long enough to know how he would react about her brother. But on the other hand, how on earth did she think she could keep her brother’s record a secret from the police, let alone the FBI — he’s in the system, for heaven’s sake! For someone who seems pretty smart, she sure doesn’t always act it, or think logically. The urge to protect and keep silent seems to overcome some of her common sense, and I began to find that exasperating.
Craig I liked immediately, and that liking only grew as I continued to read. He’s a good friend to his partner, an excellent field agent, and a stand-up guy. He really shouldn’t be getting involved with a witness (couldn’t that cost him his job in real life?), but other than that, he makes an admirable hero, complete with a sense of humor.
The Finnegans are a typical (stereotypical) Irish-American family. Big brother Declan runs the pub and raised his younger siblings after their parents died. The younger ones all work at the pub when they’re not out doing other jobs. (Besides Kieran’s work as a criminal psychologist, her twin brother Kevin is an actor trying to get roles, and her younger brother Danny is a tour guide.) The family extends to friends, including Julie, the girl who got Danny into the mess in the first place — and oh, did I want to shake some sense into the pair of them more than once! There’s also an older man, Bobby, a recovered alcoholic who nonetheless loves to hang out at the bar. (Does that seem as unlikely to you as it does to me?) And of course, there’s Craig’s partner Mike. The dynamics between all these characters are interesting—especially the affection the whole family feels for Bobby—and for me they were one of the best parts of the book outside the mystery plot.
The mystery itself was absorbing, though I spotted two of the real villains very soon after they were introduced. Copycat crimes are not unusual, but what is unusual is to have the copycat(s) acting simultaneously with the original criminal(s), making it harder to investigate. . . especially when the DA is convinced the killers have been caught. And of course, once Kieran and Craig begin to suspect someone is trying to kill her, the suspense ratchets up a notch or two. Even once I was fairly sure I knew who was behind the murder-robberies, I was still eager to find out how and when they would be apprehended.
I may not have loved Flawless, but I did like it, certainly well enough that I would read a sequel if it turns into a series. There’s no clear indication of that happening, so it may be a standalone, and that’s OK too. Either way, Flawless gave me several hours of reading pleasure in the middle of an insomniac night, and that was all that really mattered.