Nothing Else Matters is the second installment in the Sam Casey mysteries. Much like I commented on the first book, these are really good mysteries, but pretty weak in the romance department. The book picks up literally after the events of the first and is not a standalone novel. If you didn't read the first one, you'll miss a good chunk of what's going on here and who all the characters are. That said, this review will refer to events from the first book.
Being in a near catatonic state after the events of the last book, Seargent Sam Casey, suspended from the police force for suspicion of murder, is recovering in a mental rehab facility. She's also pregnant and dismayed to find that she's somehow married to Jake even though there were no witnesses to the ceremony and Sam was tricked into signing documents while recuperating in a mental facility. When she checks herself out of the clinic early, she finds that her mother is traveling to deal with reservation politics leaving her to live alone with Jake. The problem is, she's not speaking to Jake. She feels betrayed by his secrets from the first book and believes he's supporting a corrupt police captain which doesn't look good since he's been recently promoted. As she struggles with her hormones and what to do with her time, she gets an offer through her attorney to privately investigate a homocide on a river boat casino. After being blown off by Jake, the primary to the official police investigation, she accepts the private case and finds herself two steps ahead of Jake who completely undervalued Sam's special abilities to see visions and interpret moments of death. Eventually the case becomes pretty gruesome and Sam eventually ends up working with the police to solve not just a murder, but a counterfeit ring and a complicated government experiment.
I can't say that there was a tremendous amount of character development here since there are still a whole slew of unlikable characters, but I loved that the kick butt Sam Casey from the first couple of chapters of the first book came back and triumphed in her own way here. With the added crazy pregnancy hormones, I found myself laughing out loud during moments of insane beanie baby shopping and uncontrollable weaping. It was all the more funny since Jake didn't know Sam was pregnant and thought she needed to go back to rehab. The investigation was intense, brutally graphic and ultimately sad. All the characters are back for this book, but I found myself relieved that Abby, Sam's mother, was not as prominent here. If you thought the Jake/Abby relationship was creepy in the first book, this installment actually gave Sam and Jake an opportunity to interact with one another and build a relationship. As for the romance, I think the author is missing an opportunity to show us some sparks between these two. So far we're told that they love each other but we really don't see or feel it. Regardless, it's a wonderful mystery that packs some strong emotion.