Elaine Brogan grew up on the ‘poor side of town,’ with a construction worker father who stole to give her a better life, and a mother who deserted the family when Elaine was 10. When her father was arrested for passing counterfeit notes that had been foisted off on her in a model agency scam, and then killed himself while imprisoned, Elaine determined to become a Secret Service agent in order to track down the man responsible and see justice done.
Lust, Love & Murder by Mike Wells is the first part of Elaine’s life, taking the reader from her underprivileged upbringing, through Secret Service training, and then into her first two assignments as an agent. The author does a great job of showing Elaine ‘growing up’ without getting too bogged down, but the story doesn’t really get started until she arrives in Bulgaria for her second assignment.
There is enough technical detail to enable readers to ‘see’ the action, without long-winded techno expositions, and the angst Elaine feels at this point in her life—for instance, the fact that she entered college as a virgin with no prior experience with the opposite sex, but a determination to ‘correct’ that situation—is shown very well.
Elaine’s feelings for her unconventional supervisor in Bulgaria is handled reasonably well, but that character could be developed more which would add to the sense of betrayal she feels when she learns that he’s under investigation for illicit activities.
The book ends on one hell of a cliffhanger—unfortunate really—with too many things left hanging. That is my main issue with this story. It’s a tense page-turner that ends too soon, and without adequate warning. While it makes me want to read the sequel, just to see what happens next, I felt a bit cheated that there was no warning that it would end on such an unresolved note. I give the author kudos for the way he handles language, but have to subtract a little for the ending. The title is also misleading; there is lots of money (fake) and lust (of a sort), but, except for the death of Elaine’s father (suicide), no murder.
The theme is great, but I can only give it three and a half stars for execution.