cover image The Deadliest Denial

The Deadliest Denial

Colleen Thompson, . . Love Spell, $6.99 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-505-52670-0

In this captivating but contrived romantic suspense by acclaimed newcomer Thompson (Fade the Heat ), Claire Winslow, a San Antonio policeman's wife, is devastated to learn that her husband, Officer Spencer Winslow, has been arrested for plotting to murder her. Despite strong evidence against Spencer, as well as the psychological fallout that has plagued him since a fatal on-the-job shooting, Claire struggles to accept that her husband would sink to such depths to cover gambling debts. When Spencer violates the conditions of his bail to waylay Claire and protest his innocence, she's torn between her deep-seated loyalty and the fear that she's simply in denial. However, an ugly series of vandalism attacks and puzzling reminders of past events—including a girl's disappearance and the death of Claire's mother—begin to point to some larger scheme. Thompson, a Rita finalist, is skilled at building suspense, but undercuts her efforts by assuring the reader early on of Spencer's blamelessness. Also, the plot sometimes feels forced, as characters leap to conclusions, cut off explanations and make several major discoveries by chance. Still, the steady action and intense emotions will keep most readers engrossed as hero and heroine unravel the many threads of deception. (May)