Fatal Chaos is the thirteenth book in the Fatal series by Marie Force. Despite never having read any other books in the series, I found it very easy to jump right in and enjoy the characters and the plot. Force does a great job of filling in any blanks as succinctly as possible.
The novel finds Samantha Holland (Sam), a Washington, D.C. police lieutenant, and her husband ,Vice President Nick Cappuano, embroiled in the chaos of the title — there’s a serious number of drive by shootings holding the city in fear as the pair also copes with the very real possibility of Nick being thrust into a presidency he does not want. They are still dealing with the scandal surrounding the attempts on their lives and the lives of their loved ones by the President’s son. Throw in a bachelor party, a child who doesn’t want to go to school, and friends dealing with relationship issues, it’s going to be a long hot week in September for the couple.
The action pulls you right into the story from the very start. Pages will turn as readers race along with Sam to stop the drive by shootings and find the perpetrators before anyone else gets hurt. The victims range in age from 6 to 40 and include a pregnant woman. Force does a great job of building empathy for the victims and their families; you become as angry and as frustrated as Sam does at the killings. Whether or not this is your first time with these characters, Force does a great job making one feel as if they actually know these people. I especially liked Sam’s partner, Freddie Cruz (the recipient of the bachelor party). Nick is a little less well developed; he seems nothing more than hunky window dressing, and we’re constantly reminded how handsome and hot he is by every female he encounters.
Nick’s storyline is also weak; all he does is moan and whine about how much he doesn’t want to be president. Even the president, David Nelson, tells him he might get more done for the country if he were ever in his office! He doesn’t get many scenes of his own, and when he is on the page, I found myself frustrated with the interruption of the murder mystery. Sam is really the star of the book, and there’s nothing she can’t do. She gets beaten, pushed, punched, injured in a car accident and she comes through with her toughness intact ready to get back on the job, She would be a Mary Sue, if she weren’t so hard as to be almost unlikeable. There’s a subplot in the book (carried over from other books in the series) about Sam assaulting another officer and the causes and effects of that move, and we also get a parallel incident in this novel.
The sex in the book is incredibly steamy almost to the point of being pornographic. The first two sex scenes do help establish the depth of the relationship between Sam and Nick. The third just served to slow down the book. There’s a fourth sex scene between secondary characters we barely hear anything about prior to their hookup, which is completely unnecessary as it serves no purpose in terms of plot or character. The scene is also problematic, because the female of the duo says no quite a few times, and the male character verbally harrasses and cajoles her into having sex anyway. “You know you really want it” is not a line I want to be hearing in the day and age of #metoo.
I also had a problem with the ending and the “justice” served up to the killers. Their motives were lame, and the two accomplices are full of “he made me do it.” These two are supposed to gain our sympathy while highlighting the depravity of the main killer. There were a lot of victims, including a child and pregnant woman, and if ‘you’re the one holding the gun, how about shooting the mastermind instead of the innocents? Also, two of the killers rape a woman, for motives unknown, and one of those men cop to “he made me do it,” which I found to be insufficient justification as well as repugnant. I wished Sam would have been far less sympathetic to any of them.
Overall, this is a quick read and an overall page turner, despite the few hiccups. As a romance, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the majority of the mystery elements. I suspect long time fans of the novel will not be disappointed at all with Force’s latest offering.