In "Declan's Cross", the latest Sharpe & Donovan mystery novel, Carla Neggers increases the mystery element of this romantic suspense series, when Lindsey Hargreaves, a marine biologist, disappears in this idyllic Ireland village http://www.amazon.com/Declans-Cross-Sharpe-Donovan-Neggers/dp/0778314634
Julianne Maroney has journeyed to Ireland to meet with Hargreaves and join her marine biology project and also to escape her latest misadventure in love with Colin Donovan's brother. But Hargreaves has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are in Ireland to try to re-kindle their relationship, which was strained in Heron's Cove http://www.amazon.com/Herons-Cove-Sharpe-Donovan-Novel/dp/0778314537 . When Sharpe learns that Maroney is in Declan's Cross, the site of a mysterious art theft, she persuades Donovan to go with her to meet Maroney. What first seems like a chance to re-visit the site of a famous art theft and comfort a Donovan family friend soon turns into a murder investigation when the dead body of Hargreaves turns up.
Who would have killed the young marine biologist and why? Was it the thief from the prior art theft at Kitty O'Byrnes hotel who has returned to Declan's Cross to steal again? Was it Kitty O'Byrne's young son, who had a crush on Hargreaves? Or was it Hargreaves disengaged father, who refused to provide Hargreaves any more money for her marine biology project. There are other suspects that come up as well.
So while Sharpe and Donovan poke their way into the Irish investigation of Hargreaves death, Sharpe also investigates the past art theft at Kitty O' Byrnes hotel.
And not to leave out the romance, Maroney and Donovan do not seem through with each other. Sean Murphy, an Irish cop, who is on leave after suffering injuries in the line of duty, still hopes to find romance in his old flame, Kitty O'Byrne and Sharpe and Donovan have more than enough heat themselves.
Neggers keeps all of the investigations running apace, makes Julianne Murphy's struggles with her heart seem real, and keeps the Sharpe Donovan relationship at the romantic center. There are red herrings a plenty, and the real villain is not so clear until the very last chapter.
This series still has legs.