Sins of the Flesh

Sins of the Flesh - Caridad Piñeiro World famous cellist “Caterina ‘Cat’ Shaw” consents to undergo risky experimental gene therapy at “Wardwell Biotech”, to treat an inoperable brain tumor. She is considered a terminal case. Caterina is under the care of physicians “Dr. Raymond Edwards” and “Dr. Rudy Wells”, co-founders of the Wardwell program. When Dr. Wells is found brutally murdered in the Wardwell laboratory, and Caterina is nowhere to be found she becomes the number one suspect and is hunted by authorities.

Dr. Edwards hires mercenary “Miguel ‘Mick’Carrera”, well known for his success in solving client’s ‘problems’ by completing assignments discretely through whatever means necessary. Mick has developed a thick skin, the eldest son of a close Hispanic family who endured tough times; he honed his special skills through years of military training and experience providing private security. Despite the nature of his current work, as a reader I knew early on that Mick possesses an inner sense of integrity and honor. When something doesn’t quite ring true for Mick with respect to Edwards’ story about Caterina Shaw, a seeming delicate, demure cellist being a cold-blooded murderer, the red flags begin to fall.

Caterina Shaw is terrified, weak, and desperate. She has escaped confinement and her tormentors but her thoughts are muddled, she is experiencing difficulty focusing, remembering. Lost in a forest, naked and alone, one memory does surface, a place where her music brought her peace of mind. With what little reserve she has left she strikes out for this destination.

Through careful investigative work Mick tracks Caterina to the Academy of Music and what he finds completely unnerves him. Another mercenary hired by Edwards has found Caterina first and wounds her. Mick discovers bright droplets of yellow-green phosphoresced liquid along a corridor in his search for her. Further inspection reveals the liquid is blood, and when he does find Caterina, all that is visible is the clothing she is wearing, and her eyes when she opens them. Caterina, you see, is like a chameleon, in times of stress, her skin turns the same color and texture as whatever she is next to.

Mick takes the wounded, obviously abused and malnourished woman to his ‘safe house’ and enlists the help of his physician sister “Liliana” to treat her. Liliana is an orthopedic resident at the local hospital and through connections is able to have Caterina’s unusual blood secretly analyzed.

Along with the obvious signs of abuse on her body it is also discovered that Cat has a significant genetic DNA abnormality, and she has been pumped full of medication that induces disassociative behavior, hallucinations etc. At this point the alarm bells are screaming in Mick’s mind with respect to the good Dr. Edwards and Wardwell Biotech.

Mick is a strong, handsome man with an air of danger that attracts the kind of woman who enjoys a quick affair and moves on. He has never been involved in a long-term relationship and given his line of work, he compensates by telling himself it’s probably a good thing. Mick convinces himself that ‘Cat’ is his ‘mission’, ‘captive’, ‘target’, even to point of subconsciously referring to her as “Shaw”.

However, as the days go on and the drugs wear off enabling Caterina’s true personality to emerge, Mick cannot deny his developing feelings for her. Caterina Shaw is a beautiful, sensitive, delicate, refined musician who has been used in a medical experiment which as given her unusual “powers”, at a huge cost. She also possesses a determination and strength that belies her other qualities.

In the setting of danger and suspense Caterina and Mick’s unusual relationship develops into a deep love. The love scenes in this story are special and sensuous but not erotically graphic.

“Sins of the Flesh”, is a fast paced page-turner, the narrative packed full of action and suspense with number of surprising plot twists. Ms. Piñeiro also developed strong supporting characters including some pretty nasty antagonists.

The one thing that niggled me is Liliana, Mick’s sister. There is a sub-plot written into the story concerning her abusive relationship with staff physician “Harrison Edgar Williams”. While it showed Liliana’s strength of character in her management of Harrison’s abuse, and reinforced Mick’s love of his sister I didn’t quite understand its necessity. I also felt Liliana being a physician was a little too convenient. However, the story was riveting and I was therefore able to overlook these small issues.

“Sins of the Flesh”, is the first of a series Ms. Piñeiro is writing and I will look forward to reading her next book “Stone Cold Sins”.

Rating 4.5 stars