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Overkill    by Linda Castillo order for
by Linda Castillo
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Chicago cop Marty Hogan has seen a lot in her years on the force, but when she witnesses the cold-blooded murder of a child, she loses control. Once the media and the courts are finished with her, her career and personal life are in shambles. The only person willing to give her a second chance is Clay Settlemeyer, chief of police in Caprock Canyon, a small Texas town so far off the grid and out of Marty's comfort zone that she almost believes she's landed on another planet. But even out here in the middle of nowhere, there is no escape from The Incident once Settlemeyer's deputies realise who she is. Rather than ignore a series of unfortunate remarks, Marty's hair trigger temper gets the better of her and before the smoke clears, Settlemeyer removes her from the regular rotation and assigns her elementary school duty.

Clay hasn't been immune to making mistakes: his own history as a military cop and more recently as a single dad are filled with them and he's more than willing to give Marty another chance where others won't - if she'll let him. But once Marty learns that her former partner has been brutally murdered, all bets are off. She's determined to go after the as yet unidentified killers, but as other cops involved in The Incident are targeted, it becomes clear that Marty is the next intended victim. Now Clay and Marty must not only deal with their off-the-scale attraction, but also the realization that violent criminals are heading their way and that they'll stop at nothing to exact their particular brand of revenge.

Marty and Clay are both sympathetic and believable leads, each with plenty of personal history, particularly Marty, who's battling a number of issues besides the stigma of The Incident. Clay is her perfect foil - with various unsavoury skeletons in his own closet, he's convinced that Marty can turn her life around. The Russian Mafia has become a favoured villain in quite a number of recent thrillers, and while their thirst for revenge keeps the plot hopping, Castillo never really takes the killers past two-dimensional caricatures. It also seemed unlikely to me that no one but Marty is able to figure out their agenda, given the villains' rather flamboyant modus operandi. But despite these plot discrepancies, Castillo creates a gripping, well-paced and well-written story, filled with plenty of action and balanced with a satisfying romance.

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