Book Review: Cheater by Karen Rose + Excerpt

Cheater, the second book in The San Deigo Case Files series by Karen Rose is now available. This mystery is a page-turner with a great who-done-it happening. Time to head back into the lives of Sam and Kit! I'm also sharing an excerpt from the book so be sure to check it out below.

Book Review: Cheater by Karen Rose
Cheater (The San Diego Case Files #2) by Karen Rose

A shocking murder leaves an affluent retirement community reeling in this riveting, high-stakes second installment of the San Diego Case Files, from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Rose.

Death is not an unfamiliar visitor to Shady Oaks Retirement Village, which provides San Diego with premier elderly support from independent retiree housing to full-time hospice care. But when a resident’s body is found brutally stabbed and his apartment ransacked, it’s clear there’s someone deadly in their community. Detective Katherine “Kit” McKittrick quickly discovers that Shady Oaks is full of skeleton-riddled closets, and most tenants prefer to keep their doors firmly closed to the SDPD.

A longtime volunteer at the retirement facility, Dr. Sam Reeves honors his late grandfather’s memory by playing the piano for the residents regularly. So it shouldn’t be such a surprise when Kit crosses paths with him during her investigation, after she’d avoided the criminal psychologist—and the emotions he evokes—for the last six months.

Sam’s rapport within the retirement village proves vital to the case, and the pair find themselves working together once again—much to Kit’s dismay. But she is determined to apprehend the shadow of death lurking around Shady Oaks...and equally determined to ignore the feelings she’s developing for a certain psychologist.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cheater was a great story! It felt like a good, old-fashioned who-done-it and I loved all the details, the build, and the dots connecting. I found it to be an exciting read that never really had a good stopping place. This was definitely an easy mystery with a side of romance, meaning there wasn't a lot of it, but I was so caught up in the story I rolled with it.

The mystery was awesome and I was hooked. It was fast-paced with all sorts of clues and twists and I was really into it. I would not say this is suspenseful, there was no real grit like in previous books I’ve read from this author. It was light but steady and I found it intriguing. The more I read, the more I needed answers.

The romance focuses on Sam and Kit and it is a continuation from the first book in the series. I say romance loosely because it's a very small portion of the story. After reading the first book in The San Deigo Case Files series, I learned Sam and Kit's story spans over the course of three books and it's a slow burn. There were a lot of looks and hints of feelings but not a lot of explanation as to why Kit held Sam at arm’s length. Since their relationship is drawn out and they didn't make much progress, I felt it took away from their chemistry, which I did feel in the first book. Their relationship continues in a getting-to-know-each-other way and it's a frustrating slow burn. 

This is a hard one for me because I was expecting romantic suspense and it’s not what I got but I still really liked it. I found the overall story with the mystery to be a page-turner, it was an entertaining read. 

Complimentary copy received from Berkley Romance.

Chapter One

Shady Oaks Retirement Village
Scripps Ranch, San Diego, California
Monday, November 7, 11:20 a.m.

Kit McKittrick allowed herself a moment to feel pity as she stood over the body of the elderly man lying dead on his apartment floor in the Shady Oaks Retirement Village. Then she squared her shoulders and proceeded to do her job.

The mood in the dead man's living room was subdued. The ME was examining the body while CSU took photos and Latent dusted for prints, but there was little of the normal scene-of-the-crime chatter to which Kit had become accustomed in the four and a half years she'd been in Homicide.

Everyone spoke in hushed whispers, like they were in church. Because it kind of felt like they were. Haunting melancholy music from a single piano was coming from the speaker mounted on the victim's living room wall. The music wasn't loud, but it was overwhelming nonetheless. Kit wanted to turn it off, because the music was so sad that it made her chest hurt and her eyes burn.

But neither the speaker nor its volume controls had been dusted for prints, so she couldn't touch it yet. Until then, she could only square her shoulders, ignore the music, and focus on getting justice for Mr. Franklin Delano Flynn.

The cause of death of the eighty-five-year-old white male was most likely the butcher knife still embedded in his chest. But she'd learned long ago not to assume. Still, a butcher knife to the chest was never good. It was a long wound, the gash in the man's white button-up shirt extending from his sternum to his navel. Whoever had killed him had to have had a lot of strength to create such a wound.

The victim had been dead long enough for his blood to dry, both the blood that had soaked the front of his shirt and the blood that had pooled on the floor around his torso.

His eyes, filmy in death, stared sightlessly up at the ceiling. His arms lay at his sides, his hands slightly curved. Not quite flat, but not quite fists, either. It wasn't a natural pose for the victim of a homicide who'd fallen after being stabbed. She wondered if his killer had repositioned his arms.

Mr. Flynn had been a hardy man, broad-shouldered, tall, and still muscular. Not in bad shape for eighty-five, she thought. He wore dark trousers, the pockets turned out, as if he'd been searched.

His shoes were black oxfords, buffed to such a shine that she could nearly see her own reflection. She wondered if he'd come home, surprising his attacker, or if he'd welcomed his killer into his home.

His living room had been ransacked, books knocked off shelves, knickknacks strewn on the floor. The sofa cushions had been slashed open, foam stuffing on the floor as well. The man's bedroom was in a similar state. The drawers in the kitchen had been opened and emptied, their contents dumped on the counters. Flour and sugar containers had been dumped on the kitchen's tiled floor. Someone had been looking for something and had left a terrible mess.

Kit wondered if they'd found what they'd been looking for. She wondered if Mr. Flynn had fought back.

Kit crouched on the victim's right side, leaning in so that she could better examine his hands. The knuckles of his right hand were scraped and bruised, but his fingernails were what caught her attention. They were mostly gone, clipped way past the quick, down into the nail bed.

That he'd fought back was a decent assumption, then. His killer hadn't wanted any evidence to be found under the man's nails.

Excerpted from Cheater by Karen Rose Copyright © 2024 by Karen Rose. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

Book Review: Cheater by Karen Rose + Excerpt
"Really great mystery with a side of romance!" - About That Story

Thank you Berkley Romance for the advanced copy of Cheater.

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Cold-Blooded Liar (#1) - Amazon | My Review
Cheater (#2) - Amazon