Rating: 4.75 stars
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Private investigator Cole McGinnis has finally found some happiness in his life after the dual tragedies of losing one lover to murder and almost losing the second the same way years later. But Jae is now recovered and two of them are closer than ever. Cole also has a close bond with his brother Mike and newly found brother Ichi. He has a mother figure in his office manager Claudia, a best friend in Bobby, and even a surrogate mother-in-law in Scarlet. But that fragile calm shatters when Cole gets news that Sheila Pinelli was picked up by the police and then released by mistake.
Sheila’s husband Ben is the one that killed Cole’s lover, Rick, and almost killed Cole as well. It set off a downward spiral that saw Cole leave the police force, Ben kill himself, and Sheila totally fall apart into a life of drugs. Then Sheila turned around and tried to kill Jae, seeking vengeance on Cole for some unknown offense. Cole can forgive a lot, and part of him still cares about Sheila as someone who once was very important in his life. But he can’t forgive or forget what she did to Jae. So when he gets a lead on where Sheila might be hiding out, Cole can’t stop himself from jumping into the investigation.
What he finds is a world of Korean gangsters, transsexual prostitutes, and lots of drugs. Every step further he takes, Cole puts himself at risk. He knows he should stay out of the mess with Sheila. He is too close and it is too dangerous. But the thought of anything else happening to Jae or anyone in the fragile family has built is just too much for him. Finding Sheila and getting her off the streets can finally put his fears to rest, but following her into the world of drugs and crime she has sunk into may put Cole in more danger than he can handle.
Dirty Deeds is the fourth book in Rhys Ford’s amazing Cole McGinnis series and I absolutely loved everything about it. This book really gives us a chance to see and reflect on how far Cole and Jae have come since the beginning of the series and pulls together a lot of pieces that have been building up since the start.
From the suspense end, we finally get some resolution on Ben’s attack on Rick and Cole, and Sheila’s attack on Jae. From the start, no one ever really understood what motivated Ben to try to kill Rick and Cole, and ultimately to take his own life. This act changed Cole’s life, killing his lover, ending his career as a cop, and causing him to lose his best friend. In Dirty Deeds, we finally get a glimpse into what was happening with Ben and why he took this tragic action. We also finally get some closure on Sheila. She totally fell apart after Ben’s death, living on the streets and ravaged by drugs. Knowing Sheila is a threat to Jae, and that she is out there somewhere potentially waiting to strike again, is more than Cole can bear. It is killing him knowing that Jae and others he loves may be in danger. So here we get some closure on that too – both what motivated Sheila to shoot Jae, and ultimately Cole’s attempts to help his former friend get off the streets.
The mystery and suspense elements really work here and all these issues with Sheila are wrapped up into a larger investigation involving drugs and murder and prostitutes. I really liked how Ford worked these two plots together, giving us a chance to get some closure with Sheila, but also giving us a larger investigation to frame the story. And I think this all comes at the right time at the series. We tie up lots of loose ends and resolve questions that have been looming. But as usual, Ford leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, letting us know that while this aspect of the story might be tied up, there is lots more to come.
While the suspense side of thing is important, what I really loved the most here is the emotional end of things. We are now seeing Jae and Cole about a year into their relationship, and it is amazing how much growth and progress both men have had. We see it most in Jae, who started out so uncomfortable in his own skin being gay, worried about what his family would think. The affection and the attraction was always there between them, but there was a sense that Jae was always holding himself just out of reach as he dealt with all his mental demons. Now we see Jae in a totally different place, accepting who he is and who he loves. The guys are so sweetly and adorably in love. It is so rewarding, especially for those of us who have followed their entire journey. We are in Cole’s POV and he especially is so clearly in love with Jae that is beyond endearing. It is lovely to see him just so happy to have Jae and be together. Not to mention that these guys are burning hot together. I am not foolish enough to think it will be all smooth sailing from here for these two, but it is so wonderful to get this time with them so happy and loving on each other.
Much of this story is really about relationships, with Cole in the center. As I mentioned, it is about him and Ben and Sheila and that whole mess. And it is about Cole and Jae and how far they have come together. But is also about this new family that Cole has built for himself since the first shooting. So much of his life has changed since then, and now he has found the people he loves and cares about and surrounds himself with them. Not just Jae, but Claudia, who is much more of mother to him that either his biological mother or the woman who raised him. Bobby, who is his best friend and the one who keeps him grounded. His brother Mike, and Mike’s wife Maddy, with whom he now has a much better relationship than in years past. And now he has his recently discovered brother Ichi as well. And of course Scarlet, who is like a mother to Jae and has taken Cole under her wing as well. At the heart of this book is Cole’s staunch need to hold his family close and to protect those he cares about. It is what drives his quest to find Sheila and why it is so hard from him to step away, even at danger to himself. It is just lovely to see Cole so happy and surrounded by people who love and care about him.
So this is really a wonderful addition to this fabulous series. It is perfectly placed to reward loyal readers, both with a resolution to many unanswered questions about Ben and Sheila, and also to see Jae and Cole so happy and in love. Knowing Ford, I don’t expect it to all be this easy going forward (nor would I have it any other way), but this book is just that wonderful sweet spot that is so romantic and rewarding. If you are a fan of this series, and Jae and Cole especially, you are not going to want to miss this story. And if you are just getting started, pick up the first book and enjoy this fabulous suspense series with such a wonderful amount of heart.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.