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Cover Up [Large Print] [Paperback]

Michele Martinez
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The brutal rape and murder of Suzanne Shepard, a scandal-mongering New York City TV journalist, provides a welcome high-profile case for Melanie Vargas in Martinez's stellar third thriller to feature the sharp and sexy federal prosecutor (after The Finishing School). Melanie accompanies her boyfriend, FBI agent Dan O'Reilly, to the grisly crime scene in Central Park, where someone, later dubbed the Central Park Butcher, has carved "bitch" into the victim's stomach with a hunting knife. In the ensuing joint state-federal investigation, Dan, Melanie and NYPD detective Julian Hay pursue a number of slippery suspects, including a well-known politician who the media claim is getting special treatment. Then Melanie starts receiving threatening e-mails. Could it be the same guy who stalked Shepard, or a celebrity cosmetic surgeon, a fitness trainer who also deals drugs, or a suspicious witness? Martinez, herself a former federal prosecutor, supplies plenty of insider savvy as she juggles the large cast with élan. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

What tough, streetwise federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas wants more than anything--well, almost anything--is a break from high-profile cases. What she gets instead is a dead television reporter, a shady Park Avenue doctor, and an anonymous e-mail stalker who seems very determined to get Melanie off the case. Oh, and her relationship with FBI agent Dan O'Reilly is heating up, but can she find a few moments in her busy schedule for love? Author Martinez, a former federal prosecutor, handles the mystery elements of the novel very well, although some readers might find the romance subplot more than a little clumsy, feeling almost tacked on. But the novel's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, and the success of the first two volumes in the series--Most Wanted (2005) and The Finishing School (2006)--ensures that fans will want to check this one out. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Perils of Prosecution April 10 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you watch any of the versions of Law and Order that are continually running on one cable channel or another, the local police are quickly pulled into the case following an accidental discovery of a crime. The police lead the way for 20-30 minutes and then the prosecutors start to take over. By the end, we only see cameos of the police as they make brief testimonies and look for last minute evidence. Occasionally, a high-profile crime involves the federal authorities who do their best to oust the local prosecutors and cops. The federal authorities seem to have their own agendas.

Cover-Up is quite a change from that tried-and-true formula. As the story opens, federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas has taking her FBI boyfriend, Dan O'Reilly, out for dinner to celebrate his birthday. Before the evening ends, he's summoned to the crime scene and invites Melanie along. When the local prosecutor can't take the violence at the horrific scene, Melanie finds herself the woman on the stop and is soon handling the press. But the crime scene makes no sense. Why would top investigative reporter, Suzanne Shepard, be out in a part of Central Park known for gay rendezvous in a rainstorm? What's the reason for the extreme violence perpetrated against her? Someone has a grudge, but that's true of everyone she's ever reported on.

The case soon takes on political overtones when the father of one of Melanie's fellow prosecutors is linked to Shepard by a threatening package. Melanie's boss is about to get married and can't be bothered to run proper interference and Melanie is accused of running a cover-up.

In the middle of all this, Melanie acquires a stalker who likes to send threatening e-mails.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ESCALATING SUSPENSE AND A SHOCKER ENDING March 25 2007
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas has seen a lot during her years in New York City, and very little of it has been pretty. [Most Wanted (2005), The finishing School (2006)]. She's a tough, smart gal and there is not much that shocks her. However, that was before the grisly scene in Central Park: "Melanie gasped and jerked her eyes away, closing them instinctively to shield herself from the monstrous sight. But it stayed with her anyway, vibrating against her eyelids, so after a moment she opened them again, swallowing hard to fight back the sour taste rising in her throat."

Susan Shepard, a once beautiful tabloid television reporter, has been murdered, her body so gruesomely butchered that it could only have been done by a psychopath., soon dubbed the Central Park Butcher. It wasn't any secret that Shepard had enemies; she'd made plenty of them in her line of work. But her news beat was celebrities, the rich and famous, who among them could have committed this heinous crime?

In her heart of hearts Melanie believes that whoever did it has also done it to other women so she fears he will soon repeat his villiany. At tha time she didn't suspect that she would be his next intended victim.

Earlier in the evening she'd been having a romantic tryst with handsome FBI agent Dan O'Reilly, the new love of her life. She's been burned before, is now divorced and learning to trust Dan. Yet love almost fades from her mind when she receives a frightening email from an anonymous sender. The words are chilling. Later emails from the same untraceable source terrify as the writer divulges details about the crime that only he could know. It's obvious that he is the Butcher, and he knows Melanie's every move.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good characters, plot, prose could use help March 22 2007
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've read her first two books and like the smart mom lawyer angle, like the personal life angst, like the plots. But this novel in particular had cliche-ish prose and dialog. I tried to forgive the prose/dialog as I read along and agreed with the sentiment trying to be expressed, but made the whole reading experience feel cheap.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perils of Prosecution April 10 2007
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you watch any of the versions of Law and Order that are continually running on one cable channel or another, the local police are quickly pulled into the case following an accidental discovery of a crime. The police lead the way for 20-30 minutes and then the prosecutors start to take over. By the end, we only see cameos of the police as they make brief testimonies and look for last minute evidence. Occasionally, a high-profile crime involves the federal authorities who do their best to oust the local prosecutors and cops. The federal authorities seem to have their own agendas.

Cover-Up is quite a change from that tried-and-true formula. As the story opens, federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas has taking her FBI boyfriend, Dan O'Reilly, out for dinner to celebrate his birthday. Before the evening ends, he's summoned to the crime scene and invites Melanie along. When the local prosecutor can't take the violence at the horrific scene, Melanie finds herself the woman on the stop and is soon handling the press. But the crime scene makes no sense. Why would top investigative reporter, Suzanne Shepard, be out in a part of Central Park known for gay rendezvous in a rainstorm? What's the reason for the extreme violence perpetrated against her? Someone has a grudge, but that's true of everyone she's ever reported on.

The case soon takes on political overtones when the father of one of Melanie's fellow prosecutors is linked to Shepard by a threatening package. Melanie's boss is about to get married and can't be bothered to run proper interference and Melanie is accused of running a cover-up.

In the middle of all this, Melanie acquires a stalker who likes to send threatening e-mails.

At the same time, Melanie finds her relationship with Dan up in the air when Dan's ex-father-in-law dies. The personal dimension is further developed as Melanie struggles with baby sitters and a cheating ex-husband who doesn't take his paternal responsibilities very seriously.

As the case evolves, more and more suspects appear. Each has a decidedly unpleasant aspect. Despite this, the judges aren't at all sympathetic and make progress more difficult than it needs to be.

The suspense, danger, and pace of the story build nicely over the course of the book. The ending will surprise you and provide an appropriate coda for a story of intense hate and sadism.

Ms. Martinez has a nice ability to capture the common elements of a day, as well as tell her gripping tale. That contrast makes her story telling seem more real, which makes the tension more powerful. You'll also find yourself being interested in the characters, even the ones that aren't developed very much. It's a rare skill to be able to make even incidental characters seem interesting.

Ms. Martinez could do a little more to steer the reader into feeling the pulse behind the story by what she has her narrator think about. Once Ms. Martinez develops that ability, there's no stopping this excellent author. With that skill, she won't have to rely quite so much on shock tactics to get your attention.

If you find the gruesome a little hard to take, you'll find this book to be over the top. But compared to much crime literature, I found the violence level to be acceptable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic and suspenseful whodunit May 29 2007
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michele Martinez initiates a very subtle change of direction in COVER-UP, her third Melanie Vargas novel. MOST WANTED and THE FINISHING SCHOOL, the first two books in the series, introduced not only Vargas but also a plethora of secondary characters that included several members of Vargas's personal family and circle of co-workers. In COVER-UP, Martinez moves a majority of the characters (Vargas's mother, sister and boss, among others) to the side --- if not off the board entirely --- giving a freshly-divorced Vargas and her blossoming relationship with Dan O'Reilly the opportunity to sparkle.

COVER-UP begins with Assistant U.S. District Attorney Vargas being pulled reluctantly into the lead of the investigation of the savage murder of Suzanne Shepard, a television reporter who has a high Q rating with the viewing public but receives low marks from her prospective targets. Vargas has no shortage of suspects, who range from a celebrity personal trainer to a Park Avenue nip/tuck surgeon to --- most significantly of all --- Clyde Williams, a New York City councilman with designs on the mayor chair who also happens to be the father of one of Vargas's best friends in the office. When Vargas does not immediately bring charges against Williams, Shepard's network screams cover-up, which does not help Vargas's investigation.

Meanwhile, FBI Agent O'Reilly is his usual competent self --- both on the job and between the sheets (functions that, as readers shall see, he sometimes performs simultaneously), though his increasingly frequent nighttime disappearances are giving Vargas pause. To make matters worse, it appears that the killer is now tracking Vargas to the extent that he knows her every move despite her own best efforts.

Suspects are ruled in and then out, making COVER-UP a classic and suspenseful whodunit, even as Vargas races to a fateful and climactic apprehension in a noisy and dangerous Times Square video arcade. There, Vargas engages in the ultimate role-playing game, as she matches wits with a brilliant and deranged killer while time runs out for one of them.

This is by far the best in an already top-notch series whose expectations have been exceeded since the publication of MOST WANTED. Martinez continues to fine-tune her character both personally and professionally, walking a fine line between the familiar and the unexpected. COVER-UP is one more reason to add, and keep, Martinez on your must-read list.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
3.0 out of 5 stars ok read April 21 2014
By MsHappi - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I enjoyed "The Finishing School"more than this novel. I felt some of the bad language was unnecessary because the storyline was decent. She tended to repeat things/rehash scenarios a bit to much. Like-able characters. I hope the next book I read by this author is more enjoyable.
4.0 out of 5 stars Cover up by. Martinez June 28 2012
By Jerry - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
We have become fans of this author. Recommend reading a book by her, you will find it easy reading, she keeps your interest in the story she weaves.7
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