SplinteredRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

There is a serial killer on the loose in Chicago and he is attacking gay men.  The bodies are being dumped in jurisdictions all over the city, making it difficult to coordinate efforts and for the cops to even realize there was a serial murderer on the loose.  The fact that homophobic cops can hardly be bothered to investigate isn’t helping things either.  But when FBI Special Agent Todd Hutchinson and his team are called in, they are determined to catch the man who has killed 18 young men.

Hutch is a top profiler and he always solves his cases. But this one is really taking a toll on him. The killer is leaving no clues and his crimes are practically perfect.  The idea that these men are being killed because they are effeminate and gay infuriates Hutch. They have no leads at all, and the fact that these cases have been largely ignored by the local police makes Hutch even angrier.  Hutch, and his partners Granite and Byte, are working tirelessly to find the killer but they have painfully little to go on.  When a lead points them in the direction of Ph.D. student Noah Walker, the team finally thinks they have caught a break.

A traumatic past has made serial killers a fascination for Noah and the focus of his studies in forensic psychology.  He wants to understand how their brains work and how they choose their victims.  At first Noah’s obsession with the cases seems to be suspicious, but Hutch soon rules him out as the potential killer.  But Noah’s expertise does make him a good resource as they continue to try to track down the real bad guy.  The murderer clearly wants Hutch’s attention, and his behavior is escalating to be sure he gets it.  Now Hutch, Noah, and his team must race to stop the killer before he strikes again.

Ooh, this is a nice, suspenseful story and it totally kept me engrossed from the very start.  This book is definitely focused primarily on the mystery and investigation side and Peterson does a great job with it.  I loved following along with Hutch and his team as they track clues and try to get inside the mind of the killer.  It is fast paced and suspenseful and really exciting.  Every once in a while I love a good juicy police investigation story and this one definitely worked well for me.  I will say I was a bit disappointed in the ending, however. I like my mysteries to give me more of a solid foundation for who the ultimate bad guy is going to be.  Very tiny spoiler…  [spoiler]In this case it felt a bit random, almost as if just about anyone could have turned out to be the killer.  There wasn’t much in the story itself to guide us along to the ultimate result[/spoiler] and that took away some of the excitement for me at the end.  Still I think the mystery and investigation part of the book was fabulous and definitely kept my attention throughout.

I also really loved the scenes of Hutch with his team, Byte and Granite. The three of them have a great connection and fun banter, which added levity to the seriousness of the case.  I enjoyed seeing how seamlessly the three interacted and worked together on the case.  It is clear that the three men really care for one another and support each other nicely.

As I said, the mystery end of this is definitely the focus on the book, so the romance end takes somewhat of a backseat. I was actually fine with that, because as I said, the mystery end was excellent.  It also makes perfect sense — at first Noah is a suspect and later is quite enmeshed in the case.  Not to mention that chasing a serial killer isn’t exactly the time for stopping to fool around.  So I think the slow pace works and we get enough sense of the sexual and emotional tension between these guys that I could believe it, even as it is not the main focus of the book.  I think the ending is a bit pat and perhaps unrealistic from an administrative end, but for the most part, I liked these guys together and think the pacing works well.

So overall I really enjoyed this one.  The mystery and investigation element was really well done and very suspenseful. The romance is not the focus, but I still enjoyed Noah and Hutch together, and really like Hutch and his team. So if you are in the mood for a great crime thriller, definitely give this one a try.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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