One cold November night when Kat Kominski was 15 years old, she and some friends held up a convenience store. In the heat of the moment, one of the others shot and killed an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard. Kat and her pals fled the scene in a panic, and no one was caught.
Thirteen years later, Kat - now Kate White - has built a new life for herself. Now a single mom with a nine-year-old son, she works as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia DA's office. But her dark past returns to haunt her when she walks into court one day and has a devastating encounter with a prisoner, Mario Castellanos, one of her companions from that terrible night.
Hardcore criminal Mario is facing a possible sentence of 20 years. He lets Kate know that he is counting on her, his old friend turned prosecutor, to make sure he goes free instead. If Kate doesn't do what he wants, he'll claim she was the one who killed the off-duty cop.
Kate is in a bind: If the truth about her past gets out, she stands to lose everything, including her son. But she can't do what Mario wants, either. As Mario ups his demands, blackmailing and terrorizing her, she is forced to turn for protection to a sexy homicide detective, Tom Braga, who suspects her of...something. The two clash repeatedly as Tom keeps digging into her past, trying to learn the truth.
Then another, far more menacing, threat rears its head, and Kate realizes that her life - and her son's - are in terrible danger. Frantic, she sees that she has nowhere to turn. Except, maybe, to Tom....
Kate White is fighting for the life that, modest as it is, she’s spent 10 grueling years building for herself and her son. Narrator Joyce Bean captures Kate’s gritty determination and complexity perfectly. Here’s a woman whose journey has been truly heroic, but Bean never allows Kate to so much as skirt the edges of being a clichéd victim or cardboard crusader.
As she faces blackmail and worse, Kate’s mounting anxiety is brought to life by Bean. There is an authenticity and texture that creates a gut-level connection for the listener between the polished professional Kate is today and the tough-as-nails street kid she has painstakingly buried in her past.
When it comes to suspense, author Karen Robards is the master of upping the ante at just the right moment. Bean keeps the listener on the razor’s edge between Kate’s fear and her need to conceal it from both her son and the suspicious cop she’s started spending too much time with. And her shading of Kate’s developing relationship with said cop is sexy, smart, and spot-on.
One of the key reasons Bean’s narration is such a pleasure is that she never tries too hard to capture the voices of her characters. Men are strong and relaxed without reaching for a hackneyed baritone. Ten-year-old Ben has the perfect pitch and cadence of a bright and loving kid. The level of narrator skill and confidence here is so satisfying you truly don’t want the story to end.
Another richly drawn character in this story is the city of Philadelphia, which Robards paints with a wonderful feel for atmosphere and mood. And Bean layers these descriptions into her storytelling so smoothly that the city rises up and surrounds these characters in a way that feels both intrinsic and edgy.
Complex and appealing characters, a terrific suspense plot, and one of the most talented narrators in the business have combined to make Guilty a very great pleasure indeed. Nancy Carter
"Robards once again shows her flair for coupling first-rate suspense with multidimensional characters." (Publishers Weekly)
"Guilty is truly a pleasure as the ever-popular and prolific Robards gives her readers an especially exciting, top-notch tale of romantic suspense." (Booklist)
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Not as good at Shattered