Thursday, January 7, 2016

ARC Review: The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag

The Bitter Season
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Kovac / Liska (Book 6)
Publication: Dutton (January 12, 2016)

Description: Kovac and Liska take on multiple twisted cases as #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag explores a murder from the past, a murder from the present, and a life that was never meant to be.

As the dreary, bitter weather of late fall descends on Minneapolis, Detective Nikki Liska is restless, already bored with her new assignment to the cold case squad. She misses the rush of pulling an all-nighter and the sense of urgency of hunting a desperate killer on the loose. Most of all she misses her old partner, Sam Kovac.

Kovac is having an even harder time adjusting to Liska’s absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than most of Sam's wardrobe. But Kovac is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a prominent university professor and his wife, bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword. Liska’s case-the unsolved murder of a decorated sex crimes detective-is less of a distraction: Twenty five years later, there is little hope for finding the killer who got away.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job. But a danger from her past is stalking her idyllic present. A danger bent on destroying the perfect life she was never meant to have.

As the trails of two crimes a quarter of century apart twist and cross, Kovac and Liska race to find answers before a killer strikes again.

My Thoughts: Nikki Liska has transferred from Homicide to Cold Cases in the hopes of having hours nearer to 9 to 5 so that she can spend more time with her teenage sons. There are many possible cases to choose but she is manipulated into working the death of a sex crimes detective named Ted Duffy who was shot while he was chopping wood in his backyard. The case has been investigated off and on since it happened almost 25 years ago but every lead turned into a dead end. Nikki hasn't much hope but she begins trying to find the people who were involved.

Each person she finds seems to have their own secrets. The widow has married Duffy's twin brother and seems to have put it all behind her. She doesn't want the case reopened. She says it is because it will just cause pain and no answer will be found. Her daughter who was nine when her father was killed has suffered all sorts of psychological issues but has come to a fragile state of equilibrium as a librarian. The two foster daughters were sent back into the system after Duffy's death.

Nikki questions the next door neighbor who is the neighborhood grumpy old man. Nikki is sure that he knows more than he says but he is so hostile that Nikki doesn't get anything from him. His alibi for Duffy's death was his wife. However, she disappeared shortly after Duffy's death. His teenage son quit school shortly after Duffy's death and joined the army. His father says he's dead. Every avenue Liska investigates raises more questions and brings new pain to everyone she interviews.

Meanwhile, Kovac is breaking in a new partner and missing Liska. He and his partner pull the case of the brutal death of a professor at the University of Minnesota and his wife. The Professor's expertise was in East Asia studies and he had an extensive collection of artifacts including a variety of swords and knives. He and his wife were brutally killed with weapons from his own collection. As they investigate, they learn that he wasn't a very nice man. His two adopted children Charles and Diana go from grief-stricken survivors to suspects as Kovac and his partner learn more about them and about their relationships with their parents.

As different as the cases seem and as far apart as they are in time, gradually the connection between the two cases develops and Kovac and Liska edge toward a solution. I enjoyed the relationships between the different police officers and especially the relationship between Kovac and Liska. This was a great story filled with suspense. I stayed up too late because I just couldn't put this one down. I needed to know how all the threads would come together.

Favorite Quote:
"Stubborn stupidity is an excellent quality to have on this job," Kovac said. "But if you collapse and die from a brain aneurism, that's a shitload of paperwork on me."
I received this one for review from Dutton. You can buy your copy here.

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