Rating: 3.5 stars
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When I heard that Hank Edwards had released the third book in this series, I asked Jay if I could review this one form its very beginning. And with a nod from her, I set out to start at the beginning with Holed Up. This first story had a few rough edges, but it certainly left me wanting more. Edwards has a very real knack for developing characters that are interesting and multi-layered. He tends to dangle just a bit about them before our hungry eyes and then follows through with more in-depth information about them in subsequent novels. While I am not sure he always intended for Holed Up to turn into a series, I do know he left us with two very compelling characters that had quite a bit of mileage left to be discovered.
Aaron Pearce is a slightly cocky and jaded FBI agent that has found out his next assignment will be in chilly Detroit babysitting a state’s witness, one Mark Beecher. Mark had overheard some men plotting a huge explosion that would threaten thousands of lives set for Valentine’s Day. While the FBI had apprehended two of the three plotters, the main fugitive, a Harold Beecham, remained at large and dangerous. There had been threats on Mark’s life and the FBI wanted him taken up north to be kept safe until the trial in a week’s time.
What neither man realizes is that the mole inside the FBI is someone from Pearce’s past and that while they make a fast escape, their lives are still very much in danger and they are running out of time.
First, let me say that Edwards is an excellent mystery writer. While it is obvious this was an early attempt at a good detective story and that meant there were some holes here and there, it was still a solid story with excellent plot twists, a smoldering, growing love interest, and some very good character development.
Having said all that, there were a few places that I felt the story got away from Edwards and there was one notable glitch in the story. It happens a little over half way in the book. Mark and Pearce are sharing stories from their past and Pearce realizes he is falling for Mark. It’s right here that we are jolted from his musings into the past and his affair with his friend Morgan from college. Edwards does a bit of a sloppy and disjointed comparison of Pearce’s only other long-term relationship with his growing affection for Mark. I felt it came off as confusing and certainly made me stop and wonder where the story line was now headed. The very next page or so and we were thrust right back into the moment at hand—it was a dizzying transition and one that left me more than a little confused.
On top of moments like that where transitions seemed a bit rough, the escalating emotional tie between the two men seemed a bit rushed and, consequently, a bit unbelievable. You see Pearce was a one-night stand kind of guy and while living in close quarters can make anyone’s emotions spike, I was not so sure that he was the type to fall head over heals in such a short time.
However, so much of this story worked and worked well. From the action to the smart dialogue between the two men, the story had some real zest and kept me engaged until the very end. I know some of Edward’s more recent work, so I am sure that the “love dialogue” and “sex talk” gets sharper and more believable. At times, this element of the two men and their interchanges was a bit awkward.
Holed Up is a solid read and more than enough to make me hungry for more of these two characters and their adventures together. So, we move onward to the second in the series next week. Stay tuned for more spectacular of the wonderful Hand Edwards!