Brian Kerr and his siblings grew up in poverty. His brother and sister managed to get all of them off the streets and under the protection of a dangerous criminal, in part because of Brian’s unusual talent of “finding.” Using his talent to track down his boss’ enemies, Brian hides himself from everyone around him, including his siblings, by pretending to be mentally slow. Despite this, each find takes its toll on him and Brian finds himself losing touch with his true self.
Nick Rugo is itching to go back undercover as a police officer in Minneapolis. When he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time, he gets his chance. His goal is to infiltrate the local crime boss’ network. In order to do so, he will use any and every one he needs to…even if it is the crime boss’ pet, a developmentally challenged Brian.
What Nick isn’t expecting is that Brian isn’t what he seems. While he appears to be simpleminded, there is an intelligence lurking just under the surface. As the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear that Brian is hiding just as many secrets as Nick, and both of their lives could be in danger if anyone discovers what they are hiding.
This is the start of a new series by Kaje Harper. A contemporary with a bit of paranormal thrown in, this book had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish! While ordinarily I shy away from most books with paranormal themes, psychic abilities intrigue me, so an undercover officer and a guy with psychic abilities was something I couldn’t resist. Readers should know that this book ends with a HFN, but there are a lot of loose ends.
Brian/Bry is a complicated character. Growing up, he had a learning disability that prevented him from succeeding in school. Constantly called derogatory names and treated like he was simpleminded, Brian learned at an early age that it was best to constantly pretend to be what he wasn’t because it kept him from doing things he didn’t want to do. When his brother and sister manage to get the three of them off the streets and into a cushy life, Brian is forced to use his talent of “finding” in order to appease his sister’s husband and brother’s boss. Fully aware of what happens to those he finds, Brian’s mental wellbeing takes a hit and he begins to refer to himself as being two different people – the one everyone sees, and the one no one sees…until Nick comes along.
Nick is not your average police officer. On his downtime, Nick likes to throw back a few and start throwing some punches. Hoping to earn a second chance at undercover work, he wasn’t expecting his chance to come after a rumor of his off-duty activities earns him a seat in his supervisor’s office. While ordinarily Nick isn’t the type of character that I find myself connecting to with his short fuse and desire to use his fists rather than words, I will admit that he quickly grew on me as the layers on him were peeled back and you saw the softer side of him.
What I liked most about this story was the relationship Brian and his siblings had with one another. There is a bond between them all that was forged in poverty. They all have roles to play: Damon is the protector; Lori is the beautiful one; and Brian is the simpleminded one who plays a special game once and a while. So long as they all play the roles set before them, life goes on and they never have to worry about being poor again…except, they’ve tied themselves to Vern – a local drug lord who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
If I had to classify this story, I would say that it was a mystery/suspense. It seems as if everyone – with the exception of Damon – has secrets. As the secrets start being revealed, danger lurks behind every corner. As a mystery/suspense, this one had me sitting on the edge of my seat from start to finish! I couldn’t put this book down – and considering it is nearly 400 pages long, I was up way past my bedtime!
The paranormal activity in this story happens when Brian is “playing.. For those of you who aren’t fans of paranormal themes in your books (like me) because you don’t get it or believe in it, it is presented in a way that makes it totally believable.
There is also a hint of romance brewing between Brian and Nick, but to be honest, this is a slow, burn romance that smokes throughout most of the book before even beginning to catch fire towards the end. Which was a good thing because, to be honest, the thought of Brian and Nick together made me a bit queasy at first because Brian initially showed the mentality of a middle-schooler. It isn’t until we begin to see the real Brian that the thought of these two together was even appealing.
My one complaint about this book is that it ended with a lot of loose ends and I wanted to see more of Nick and Brian after they finally got together. While it isn’t a complete cliffhanger, and while we sort of get a HFN, I am forced to wait to find out what happens next. I don’t like having to wait…
Overall, I loved this book and can’t wait for the next in the series. I highly recommend!!!