Book Review: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter
By John ValeriMay 11, 2020
Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter is the second book in the Tactical Crime Division series, where agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company—especially once she discovers she’s being framed.
Elizabeth Heiter is a Publishers Weekly-bestselling author whose consistent, and consistently excellent, output has made her one of the suspense genre’s standout names. Her novels—which include The Lawmen, The Lawmen: Bullets and Brawn, and Profiler series as well as K-9 Defense—have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages; she has won the RT Reviewers’ Choice award and has been shortlisted for the HOLT Medallion, Daphne Du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and Booksellers’ Best awards. Heiter’s current release, Secret Investigation, is the newest book in Harlequin Intrigue’s multi-authored Tactical Crime Division series.
In the story’s prologue, U.S. Army captain and widowed mother of two Jessica Carpenter and her team of soldiers are gunned down when their supposedly impenetrable body armor fails to stop enemy fire. In the aftermath, the FBI’s Tactical Crime Division is tasked with investigating what went wrong and who’s to blame. Newcomer Davis Rogers, a former ranger, petitions to be lead on the case due to his personal investment in the outcome: he was friends with Jessica and needs to see justice served. But that means infiltrating Petrov Armor for his first undercover assignment—a risky affair made more so by the crossing of personal and professional boundaries.
Meanwhile, Petrov Armor’s newish CEO, 30-year-old Leila Petrov—still mourning the unexpected death of her father (the company’s founder) privately while acting the brisk businesswoman publicly—knows that she’s got a PR nightmare on her hands. Equally committed to discovering the traitor in her midst, she allows Agent Rogers access to the company under the guise of his being her personal assistant. There’s an instant and undeniable chemistry between them, but acting on it would mean compromising the investigation. That Rogers suspects her closest associates of complicity—including her former lover/head of sales and her uncle/COO—is enough to cool things down just slightly. (For his part, Rogers doesn’t know if he can absolve her of overall responsibility the company’s failings.)
Still, the romantic tension is palpable, and other members of the team begin to question Rogers’s objectivity—a criticism that he himself can’t deny. Heiter does a skillful job of fostering this flirtation and its fallout without allowing it to overwhelm the narrative or undermine the overall sense of danger. In fact, quite the opposite; it serves to heighten the stakes exponentially. She also introduces complex secondary characters whose backstories are equally compelling (if condensed), and whose unlikely collaborations reveal additional malfeasance within Petrov Armor as well as the triumphs and tribulations of teamwork within the Tactical Crime Division. Consequently, the book’s finale holds greater significance given the depth of its staging.
Elizabeth Heiter’s Secret Investigation is a fast-paced thrill ride replete with dynamic characters whose internal lives are every bit as engaging as their outer exploits. Action and attraction abound, all but ensuring that readers will lose their heads—and quite possibly their hearts—long before the last page is turned. Which just goes to prove that we are all prisoners of love.