Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
I recently listened to and loved Catalyst and Tinderbox, both books in Rachel Grant’s Flashpoint series. I am a fan of romantic suspense but I’m picky about the ratio of romance to suspense and I like for characters to be sensible and to act realistically within the confines of the worldbuilding. I was so impressed by the Flashpoint books for delivering on those things, that I turned to another Rachel Grant book when I wanted another fix of RS. Body of Evidence is book two in her Evidence series (there is no apparent crossover). It works well as a stand-alone, with only a loose connection to first book, Concrete Evidence.
Mara Garrett, the niece of a former US Vice President, starts the book confined in a North Korean prison and is about to face a firing squad. At – literally – the last minute, an envoy from the USA arrives to save the day. He is US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Curt Dominick. He’s handsome, young and heroic – and he also happens to be aggressively prosecuting Mara’s beloved Uncle Andrew for bribery and corruption.
As Mara and Curt make their way back to the US, it becomes clear that someone is out to kill Mara and Curt is convinced it has to do with the imminent trial of Mara’s uncle, Andrew Stevens, the former US Vice President, and the private mercenary company, Raptor, for whom Stevens now works.
Mara is a forensic archaeologist and works for JPAC, a group which locates and repatriates the remains of fallen US soldiers. Getting to the bottom of just what Mara’s team uncovered in North Korea, and what then led to Mara’s arrest reveals a terrible risk to the US mainland – and the stakes get higher at every turn.
Personally, Mara and Curt are immediately attracted to one another but his prosecution of her uncle makes any developing relationship problematic on a number of levels and keeps the conflict believable. It’s not something that’s just going to go away. Either Curt is right and Mara’s uncle is a criminal or he’s wrong and he’s prosecuting an innocent man for personal glory (and would therefore not be a man worth Mara’s love) so there’s no having her cake and eating it too.
Much of the first half of the book takes place in a few short days but there is a section later on where Mara and Curt are separated for reasons but in regular contact by phone. It served to give their relationship time and space to grow a little more organically and to give me confidence it wasn’t just adrenaline driving their attraction. At the same time, there was enough going on in the story that I wasn’t bored and Mara’s and Curt’s phone ‘dates’ kept the romance front and centre as well.
The story is certainly pretty over the top at times but Ms. Grant kept it on the right side of eye-rolling and actually (scarily), it seemed a little more believable in 2018 than it may have been when it was originally released in 2013. I believed the romance between Mara and Curt and I appreciated that Mara didn’t suddenly develop superpowers while she was running for her life. Sure, Curt is probably more ripped than most US Attorneys but I’m not going to complain about that!
Nicol Zanzarella is a narrator who has been rated highly here by Caz and I liked her smooth, somewhat husky voice in my ears. She narrates with good expression, though there were times when perhaps the expression was a titch overdone and I thought maybe she was a little too smooth in her delivery. Her male voices aren’t significantly deeper than her other character voices but there was certainly enough to differentiate who was who.
Ms. Zanzarella delivered on the tension in the story also, varying her pacing just enough to convey rising unease and adding to the atmosphere of the plot, without ever getting too fast.
There was little for me to criticise in her performance and I’m certainly happy to listen to more of her work. At the same time, her narration didn’t rise to the heights of Greg Tremblay’s in Catalyst – at least, not in this book. I can’t quite put my finger on why – apart from my admittedly rather vague comment about sometimes being a little too smooth and using a little too much expression. If Curt Dominick cross-examined me about it, I’d crack like a walnut under a sledgehammer.
Perhaps it’s just that I have been spoiled by some truly excellent narration in my ears in the last little bit and so “very good” narration doesn’t impress me quite as much right now? Maybe the next Zanzarella-narrated book I listen to (and there definitely will be more) will seal the deal for me.
In any event, while I didn’t enjoy Body of Evidence quite as much as I did Catalyst, it was certainly worth my time and my credit and it has cemented Ms. Grant’s position as my new favourite romantic suspense author.
TITLE: Body of Evidence
AUTHOR: Rachel Grant
NARRATED BY: Nicol Zanzarella
GENRE: Romantic Suspense
STEAM FACTOR: 5
REVIEWER: KaetrinBuy Body of Evidence by Rachel Grant on Amazon EXCERPT: