I received a review copy
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.
The Bitter Season (Kovac and Liska #5) by Tami Hoag starts off with a bang and the rest of the book does not dial down the intensity, nor lose its spark. What is at first seen as a collection of characters and two cases that are nothing alike or have any connection, soon becomes a tangled web so thought provoking and suspenseful it is near impossible to put down.
The book starts with the murder of a respected and decorated police officer in Sexual Crimes. As Officer Duffy chops firewood to relax and unwind from seeing the darker side of human nature, someone decides to end his life, shooting him in the back. Twenty-five years later, his murder is still unsolved and dumped into the lap of officer Nikki Liska. Liska was at first excited to join the new cold crime division, as it meant less time in the office and more spent with her two teenage boys, however she wasn’t counting on being chosen to try and solve the murder of a cop in which countless others have examined and failed. However, once asked to get results, Liska puts everything she has into the case and discovers there were quite a few things passed over in the previous investigations. Why weren’t the children ever questioned? From his eldest daughter to two teenage foster care girls, it seems as if they were all passed over. As Liska continues her search to find justice for the victim, she ends up on a twisted path, one she never would have imagined.
Meanwhile, Sam Kovac is missing his partner and unhappy with the new trainee, and absolute Adonis, Michael Taylor. But he to rein in those feelings as the two are put on one of the most surprising and shocking double homicides. A professor, who is an authority on East Asian studies, and his wife are brutally slain; having been assassinated by a ninja and samurai enthusiast. As the two investigate, they discover that the professor was a narcissist who made enemies out of everyone he ever met, including his adopted children. Was it the daughter who had a long ad troubled past, not to mention currently filing charges against her father at the university? The son who has been ridiculed and constantly criticized? Another professor who is not only vying for the same promotion, but also sleeping with the daughter?
When I discovered that this novel was one of a series, I was a little worried that it would be hard to follow, but Hoag is a master at creating a story that can be part of a family of books, but still hold its own as an individual.
The characters were charming: from the old school Kovac, grizzled and wise from his many years on the force; to the gruff, no-nonsense, Nikki, who has had to face multiple obstacles in a man friendly profession; and young, idealistic, respectful Michael, trying to prove his worth. The mix of these characters balanced so well and were able to bounce off each other in a way that made them not only endearing, but also realistic and relatable.
The story was gritty, intense, and at times a bit graphic; but scintillating, suspenseful, and just incredibly well written. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, giving it five out of five stars, and am intent on not only reading the previous books in the series, but keeping my eyes peeked for the next installment.