cover image Even When You Lie

Even When You Lie

Michelle Cruz. Crooked Lane, $17.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-63910-250-1

Early in Cruz’s uneven debut, a romantic thriller, a young woman dies after leaving an envelope for defense attorney Cade McCarrick at Holcombe & Donaldson, a prestigious Dallas law firm. Though warned to leave the matter alone, Reagan Reyes, the firm’s private investigator and a former intelligence officer, discovers the envelope’s contents relate to a recent murder outside a nightclub. Despite the risk of exposing her romantic relationship with Cade—expressly forbidden by the firm’s rules—Reagan investigates further, assisted by Rafi, a former Army Ranger who’s now homeless. When Reagan uncovers a connection between the Holcombes, the firm’s wealthy and well-connected owners, and the woman’s death and the earlier murder, Reagan and Cade become targets of a killer who has woven a web of deceit to disguise the murders’ true motives. Blood ties and money are at the heart of the matter, and the tension rises along with the body count. Though all the components of a romantic thriller are in place—an adventurous young woman, a dashing love interest, a fast car, and a city riddled with corruption—they generate neither passion nor action. Intriguingly flawed secondary characters suggest Cruz can do better next time. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Mar.)