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The Cheater    by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg order for
by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg brings fourteen years of law enforcement experience to her mysteries - which is certainly one of the factors in their success. In The Cheater, she brings back her beloved character, Lily Forrester, who has now achieved her dream of becoming a judge (in Ventura County). A second heroine is ex-cop/newbie FBI Agent Mary Stevens - she catches the scent of a female serial killer who preys on men who are repeatedly unfaithful to their wives.

Though we see the killer (something of a chameleon) in action right at the beginning of the story, the awful childhood that motivates her is only revealed gradually. Rosenberg also shows us Lily settling into her new role, with flashbacks to the horrific experience of being raped alongside her then young daughter Shana - and to the vengeance she took afterwards. It haunts her still and has had repercussions, that were unknown to her at the time but are eventually revealed here. And readers meet feisty young Mary, determined to prove herself as an FBI profiler - and doing a fine job of it.

The plot becomes incestuous early on as the killer (who likes to get to know her victims' spouses) approaches Lily through a friend at her health club - she calls herself Anne Bradley, is posing as an attorney, and has picked Lily's alcoholic husband Bryce as her next target. While he's planning a Las Vegas week-end with Anne, Lily is fighting her attraction to blond, blue-eyed fellow judge, Chris Rendell. When Anne's latest kill becomes a fiasco, she saves the situation by accusing Bryce of rape - an accusation which pushes all of Lily's buttons, so that she doesn't believe his side of the story.

As Anne draws closer to Lily and the FBI follow an alibi club trail that leads them to Ventura (Mary manages to initiate a hot new romance on the side), the situation explodes in a manner very dangerous to Lily Forrester's position and future. Rosenberg fans, as well as mystery readers who enjoy a meaty plot and characters with depth, will devour The Cheater.

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