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Dead Reckoning    by Linda Castillo order for
Dead Reckoning
by Linda Castillo
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When assistant district attorney Kate Megason is handed her first capital case, she's thrilled. She's eager to prove what her boss, and the Dallas legal community in general, already know about her, that she's tenacious and intent on justice. It helps that all concerned assure her the case against Bruton Ellis is slam-dunk. The habitual criminal walked into a convenience store, demanded money, then gunned downed both attendants in cold blood. The crime was captured on video, leaving little doubt of Ellis's guilt.

The only negative aspect to the case comes when Kate's superiors assign former detective Frank Matrone as one of the investigators. Kate and Frank are immediately at odds: Matrone has an attitude and is habitually late for morning meetings. Kate discovers he's hooked on pain meds after surviving a horrific explosion in the Middle East. While sympathetic, Kate sees his handicap as unacceptable for her team. Her attempts at getting Matrone thrown off the case fail; he appears to have various champions in high places. Frank proves himself almost immediately - while viewing the incriminating video tape, he notices irregularities that the investigating officers missed. Kate and Frank are soon following a trail of other recent murders committed in a similar manner. They point to chilling corporate greed. Those responsible aren't willing to lose their cash cow and Kate becomes a target. They have no compunction about using an horrific incident from Kate's past to terrorize her. Now it's up to Frank to protect her from killers intent on keeping a lid on their murderous secret.

Linda Castillo proves once again that she has a sure hand when it comes to romantic suspense. Kate and Frank are both intriguing, well-drawn and fractured people whose characters complement each other well. The initial dislike (from various misconceptions) each has of the other is nicely done and makes their eventual attraction that much more believable and sizzling. Castillo also has a good handle on the inner workings of a DA's office and police procedure - the conspiracy that Kate and Frank eventually unearth is equally disturbing. Dead Reckoning is a gritty, compelling and well-written story that's well worth your time.

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