The killing of a business executive reveals a tangled web of lies and deceit in this debut novel.
Grayson Samuel has it all: a thriving career, a close circle of friends, and a loving fiancee with whom he shares a luxury home in Atlanta. He owes much of his success to the influence of his fiancee, Carmen Clarke. Although he excelled academically, his career lacked focus until he met Carmen. On the morning he begins a new position at his investment firm, he is approached by detectives investigating the murder of Synclair Dixon, a colleague. Grayson is devastated by her death. Their friendship began when he sponsored her at work, and over the years they developed a close bond. Detectives soon narrow their list of suspects to Grayson; Charles Dixon, Synclair’s former husband; and Blake Day, who had a date with her the night of the murder. As Grayson tries to keep his wedding to Carmen on schedule, he is unable to escape scrutiny from the authorities. When a risky gambit to bring Synclair’s killer to justice ends in a public relations nightmare, authorities focus on a new suspect with a connection to Carmen. Is Carmen an innocent bystander or a master manipulator capable of orchestrating murder? Joyce’s tale is replete with fast-paced romantic suspense and vivid characters. It is a relatively short novel, and Joyce skillfully establishes the protagonists’ back stories and relationship history through the use of flashbacks. These flashbacks also help develop the pivotal character of Synclair. Although her death occurs in the opening chapter, she emerges as a strong and sympathetic player whose relationship with Grayson is as poignant as it is unpredictable. Carmen and Grayson are dynamic lead characters with intense chemistry. Carmen is an intriguing femme fatale: a driven and successful businesswoman who has a way of turning every situation to her advantage. While Joyce keeps the story tightly focused, the brisk pacing means that some secondary characters, like the detectives, appear in only a few brief passages.
This premise brims with plot twists, but a rushed narrative somewhat hampers the murder tale.