Straight-laced Jadan Calloway decided to let her hair down when she goes out on the town, and the night ends in the death of the handsome man who charms her off her feet. <P><P>Now the people who killed Kent are after her, and the only man who can save her is Cole McAlister, the rugged, willful NOPD detective who believes she's behind his twin brother's death.
Cole is determined to find enough evidence to prosecute Jadan for Ken'ts murder, yet every thread he finds unravels before he can make his case. She maybe she's not guilty. Either that, or she's the most conniving woman he's ever met.
He digs deeper, and the two become wrapped in a web of terrorism and intrigue that just might kill the both and obliterate the New Orleans French Quarter at the heart of carnival season. To survive, they must put aside their anger and distrust and work together.
New Orleans Police Investigative Unit Commander Cole McAlister slammed out of his car beside Jadan's Java and looked around. The city had changed since he'd left for his second stint in Iraq thirteen months ago. The flood after the hurricane had decimated the place, but citizens had rebuilt. This area around the UNO campus seemed to be thriving, with what looked like a bookstore going up next door to the coffee shop. The odors of paint and new lumber mingled with the enticing smell of freshly brewed java.
He shook off the jet lag still dogging him and approached Slade Montgomery, his good friend and most trusted detective, who stood near the coffee shop's glass door jotting notes in a small spiral notebook. "What've we got?"
Slade looked up. "An attempted murder."
"At least it's not another body." Murders were up again this month. Cole ducked beneath the yellow crime scene tape fluttering in the chilly breeze and stuck his hands in his pockets. Slade's mouth curved. "You might change your tune once you learn who almost took a bullet."
"Why would I do that?"
"It's Jadan Calloway."
Jadan. The woman who had been with Kent the night he'd died. Anger rose up to choke Cole. Kent had been his twin. His confidant. His best friend. He turned and peered through the metal-framed door. A pretty blonde woman sat at a table near the counter, her hands wrapped around a colorful mug as she stared blankly into space. Her slim beauty punched Cole like a fist to the gut.
Slade put a hand on his shoulder. "Take it easy, now. She's clean."
"I read your report."
"I couldn't hold her on it." He dropped his hand. "She had no priors, nothing that told me she did it, no evidence that she knew Kent before that night. And now--"
"Someone tried to kill her."
"Looks like it."
"Shit." Cole battled the urge to shove the door open and rail at her. Instead, he blinked back tears and stared out into the night. Kent had been his own flesh and blood. They'd shared the same DNA, the same egg, for God's sake. Cole had been older by five minutes. But Kent had always been the most daring. That point had been driven home by his untimely death. Hot sex in his truck in a parking lot with a stranger.
He set his jaw. "I need to talk to her."
"Figured you'd want to." Slade tucked his notebook into his coat pocket. "Need my help?"
"No, thanks." Cole shook his head. "I can handle it."
Slade bobbed his head. "All right. See you tomorrow."
"Bright and early." He paused until Slade climbed into his car and sped away.
Cole's heart jackhammered as he turned and opened the door. A bell jangled. Jadan looked up, and terror streaked across her face.
A dark-haired girl who looked to be in her early twenties came out from the back and stood behind the counter with her arms crossed.
"What's the matter, Ms. Calloway?" Cole quirked his lips. "You look like you've just seen a ghost."
Posted by Sally Pink Reviews on 4th Feb 2013
A worthy installment in the New Orleans detective series, "Chosen Target" offers excitement and fingernail biting suspense. Jadan Calloway is the 'chosen target' and it's up to detective commander Cole McAlister to keep her safe.
The story opens a few days before Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Jadan runs a coffee shop. The city is slowly recovering from Hurricane Katrina and Jadan's shop is a reflection of that. She has a passionate encounter with a man she meets at a bar, Kent, but to her shock, he dies shortly after, a suspicious death.
The police clear Jadan, but she's a little rattled. Back at her coffee shop, she finds a cell phone that has been left behind. The calendar on the phone indicates the beans have delivered and Mardi Gras is "d-day." Just at that time, the owner of the phone, a man of middle-eastern decent returns to find Jadan with it. Upset that she has seen his plans, he shoots up her coffee shop, causing a lot of damage. Miraculously, Jadan is still alive.
Detective Commander Cole McAlister gets involved in the case. He's torn between his attraction to Jadan and the uncomfortable feelings that she was with his brother when he died. After preliminarily tests reveal that Kent died of Ricin, and beans refer to caster beans, Cole realizes there is a terrorist threat and involves the Feds. Cole also realizes that Jadan needs protection from the terrorists and takes her to a safe house for her protection. Can Cole keep it strictly professional between him and Jadan, or will his heart get in the way?
"Chosen Target" moves fast with a tight plot. Atkins's writing is sharp. Atkins uses a good economy of words to paint a very vivid picture in the reader's mind. By involving the FBI and Homeland security in the terrorist response, Atkins gives the novel a strong authenticity.
Atkins's characters are dynamic. Cole is wonderfully layered. He's strong and heroic, having seen danger as a part of a deployment to the Gulf, yet, he's also a bit prickly, especially when it comes to his brother's death. Cole also harbors deep regret over his former girlfriend's death. Throw in his complicated feelings for Jadan and the reader is along for a pulse-pounding ride.Jadan is a survivor. She's strong willed and determined, traits to be admired. Like New Orleans, Jadan is rebuilding her life, but she has to fight hard for it – harder than she ever thought she would. Jadan strikes the perfect balance for a heroine – spunky, gutsy, and never a victim.
Atkins's love scenes are charged with electricity and passion. She'll leave the reader breathless. Chosen Target is a high-paced ride filled with excitement, danger, and love.