Internal Affairs Officer Jeremy Ranklin is called in to investigate the apparent suicide of the Reno Chief of Police. It seems impossible to believe that Brunson killed himself, and even more unlikely when suggestions start surfacing that he was involved in dirty dealings with the local drug lord. Jeremy is paired up with Detective Cristian Flesh to investigate, and the two are determined to figure out what really happened with Brunson, even when the new chief pulls them off the case.
Jeremy is firmly in the closet, both because of his job and his homophobic family. When he meets fellow officer Kipp Mosely, Jeremy is definitely attracted. But he stays away from relationships, and even most hookups, for fear of anyone finding out he is gay. Still, as much as he tries to stay away from Kipp, Jeremy can’t resist him, and the men begin a sexual relationship that soon begins to involve emotions as well, despite Jeremy’s determination not to get too involved.
As the investigation continues, Jeremy and Cristian learn more about Brunson’s past. More questions begin circulating about dirty cops and figuring out who is telling the truth and who is on the wrong side of the law becomes increasingly difficult. All the while, things between Jeremy and Kipp are getting more serious and Jeremy must decide if he is ready to move forward with Kipp, or whether the relationship has no hope of a future.
Closing Ranks is the fourth book in Ethan Stone’s Flesh series, and the first new book after the original three were republished with DSP Publications. It features new main characters in Jeremy and Kipp, but Cristian plays a big role as Jeremy’s co-investigator, and we get some brief appearances from Lex, Colby, and Drew as well. I am a huge Cristian fan, so I was really glad to see him featured so prominently here, but I think this story stands alone well and you could fairly easily jump in here without having read the rest of the series.
Like the other books, this one combines both a romance and a mystery. Most of the investigation here focuses on Brunson’s murder/suicide investigation and the potentially dirty cops involved. As an Internal Affairs officer, Jeremy takes his job seriously, and learning more about his backstory helps make it clear why. The case doesn’t have quite as much action and suspense as some of the earlier books and there isn’t quite the same life or death on the line situation. But it is still well handled and the mystery unfolds nicely over the course of the book. The ends tie up a little quickly as the book comes to a close, but overall I think it was well done.
The relationship end of things was also interesting. We get a really great sense of Jeremy and his background and Stone does a nice job helping us see just why he is so terrified of anyone finding out he is gay. There isn’t a magic fix to the situation, something unusual in this genre, but one which I think makes sense given the story. We get a nice HFN for the guys, and we see Jeremy and Kipp settling into a fulfilling relationship, but it isn’t really clear exactly what the future holds for them. As with the mystery, I did feel like the relationship side of things ends kind of abruptly, but we are left seeing the men happily together, which worked for me.
After having re-read the first three books upon their rerelease, I was really excited to check out this new addition to the series and I think it fits well. There is a nice combination of mystery and romance, with two likable main characters and a well developed mystery. I was thrilled to spend some more time with Cristian and enjoyed my time with Kipp and Jeremy as well.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.