by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Cover Artist: Photos: Corbis & Getty Images
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765319029
Date: 09 June 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Cheating husbands beware; Anne Bradley has your number, literally. In The Cheater, by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, Ann runs and on-line alibi club, where men and women can register and have other people answer fictitious numbers so that their spouses think they are somewhere else besides where they really are.
In The Cheater, by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, the simple plot synopsis is that a woman lures cheating husbands to meet her for a secret rendezvous and kills them. Anne Bradley is the killer, and she has a finely tuned method to lure the men, drug them with an undetectable tranquilizer and then taunt them as she kills them. She funds her efforts through an on-line alibi club. After men and women subscribe to the service, they provide alibis for each other through phone calls that appear to be made to legitimate hotels and other establishments, but are really made to other members of the alibi club to give false locations for their whereabouts. Anne is so confident in her process that she sends a tape to the FBI about her antics. She is smart to use words and phrases of pre-recorded material so that they cannot trace her. It ultimately leads to her demise because with a little skill and a whole lot of luck, the FBI starts to chase her.
The other lead character is Lily Forrester. Lily is a judge in California in Ventura County. Lily meets Anne through a common friend. Anne is very smart and charming and quickly befriends Lily. Anne realizes that her ultimate target is Lily's philandering husband. Anne looks forward to the satisfaction of soothing a prestigious judge about losing her husband, when Lily has no idea that she is the murderer.
Both Lily and Anne have had tragic pasts. Anne was abandoned on the side of the road by her father when she was a young girl. Anne nearly died of exposure and spent the rest of her childhood in many un-friendly foster homes. Lily and her daughter were raped several years before the story occurs. Naturally, Lily was forever marred by the rape, but to have her daughter raped in front of her made the trauma much worse.
Unfortunately, the past of the two heroines leads to my problem with the book. The author talks about the events too much. The elements are important to the story, but they occur over and over again as flashbacks and take too much away from the story itself. A reader who enjoys the soap-opera-like drama will love it, but a hard-core mystery reader will not.
When you weave through all the drama, the mystery is great. The way the FBI looks for Anne and discovers her tactics and previous crimes is excellent. Anne's planning and efforts that lead to attracting her victims are excellent. The last quarter of the book where the mystery reaches its conclusion had plot twists and character realizations that made me not want to stop reading.
So in conclusion, I give The Cheater a mixed review. Honestly, I would have put it down half-way through if it were not one of my assigned books for Gumshoe Review. But once I got to the end, where the mystery finally got resolved, I really enjoyed it.
My gut reaction is that a reader who wants a hard-core mystery should stay away, but there readers who love a mystery mixed with the romance novel will love the story.