Book Review: Danger In Numbers by Heather Graham
It’s hard to place the defining line between a mystery/thriller and a romantic suspense… and I don’t think that it’s just defined by whether there is a romance in it or not. For me, I think it’s about the body count, or maybe the explicitness of gruesome details, and I think this book falls on the wrong side of the line for what it’s trying to be. It’s a solid mystery thriller… but the romance feels grafted on. There’s more than enough here with the creepy apocalyptic cult, the trafficked young women, and the reveal that one of our main characters actually grew up in a cult, that when the two main characters suddenly start sleeping together it feels like a distraction.
I actually love romantic suspense, but the romance should be the main focus if that’s the category you’re putting the book in. Nothing even happens on the romance front until the second half of the book, at which point I wanted to smack both main characters upside the head and tell them to focus on their jobs, because lives were at stake.
There’s some fascinating stuff here about cults, with references to real-life ones like NXIVM, Manson and Jonestown built in to the fictional one (and Manson and Jonestown actually name-checked). I definitely bought into the fictional cult in the story taking over a small, poverty-stricked rural town with the promise of a better life for everyone, with the side effect of creating a lethal environment for anyone questioning or trying to stop the takeover. However, with a billionaire running it, one thing I did NOT buy was the assertion that he hadn’t purchased himself any ‘protection’ from tame law enforcement. Indeed, every LEO in the story is portrayed as morally incorruptible, and I think we all know that’s not true. With the kind of money the cult leader had - and having apparently skated on earlier, damning crimes - I fully expected the protagonists to suffer at least one betrayal by someone they trusted. That they didn’t definitely eroded my belief in the story’s credibility.
There were parts I liked about this - I actually really liked both the principal characters, as well as the cult story and the mystery - but the romance felt grafted on and there were other things which bothered me. An interesting read, but I found I closed the book feeling quite dissatisfied. I’ll give it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.