It’s been about four months since Cooper Dayton and Oliver Park got partnered up and solved a case that hit way too close to home for both men. Things are tense at work in the aftermath of the case, with lots of animosity being directed at Cooper. On a personal front, the guys are still seeing one another, but Cooper isn’t really sure the status of their relationship. He and Park are sleeping together on the regular and spending lots of personal time together. But does that mean they are in a relationship? Cooper is too afraid to ask and so he kind of keeps Park at a distance, not wanting to assume anything.
After solving a case, the guys have a few days off and that’s when Cooper forgets not to answer his dad’s phone calls and finds out it is his brother’s engagement party weekend. Cooper has been avoiding his family for a while now, as he always feels his father’s disapproval, and after getting out of his small hometown, he doesn’t really want to look back. But he can’t miss the event and Park agrees to come along for a few days.
When they find a decades-old body buried in Cooper’s family yard, suspicion immediately turns to his dad. While Cooper may not get along well with the man, he knows his father is not a murderer. However, the FBI isn’t so sure, so with Park’s help, Cooper decides to do a little investigating on his own. As he talks to friends and neighbors, Cooper learns way more than he ever expected about what was really going on in his quiet neighborhood years ago. As Park and Cooper get ever closer to figuring out who is behind the murder, they find that their own lives may be on the line.
The Wolf at Bay is the second book in Charlie Adhara’s wonderful Big Bad Wolf series. I just loved the first book and was thrilled to catch back up with Cooper and Park. Adhara has created a really exciting combination of paranormal and suspense with this series, giving us a world where werewolves are known to some, but not all. Park and Cooper are partners in the Bureau of Special Investigations, an organization that investigates crimes involving wolves (with Cooper the human partner and Park the wolf). The FBI aren’t huge fans of the BSI, and neither organization is particularly thrilled with Cooper after what went down in book one. I just love the way Adhara incorporates the paranormal elements into her mysteries, and it makes for some really clever world building and interesting cases.
While in the first book we got some more inside information into wolves in general, and Park’s family in particular, here the focus shifts to Cooper’s family. We know that things are tense between him and his dad, and we learn that he has been distant with his brother as well. His family doesn’t know he is gay, as Cooper doesn’t want to add one more thing to disappoint his father. But I did appreciate that while things start off tense, by the time the book ends, the family is all in a much better place.
The mystery here is incredibly well done. Adhara is really masterful at pacing, something I noted in the first book as well. Each bit of information is parsed out at just the right time, so we are meeting the suspects and learning information at the perfect rate to keep the story engaging and exciting. What adds a nice twist here is that we are in Cooper’s POV, and so we are learning things through his somewhat skewed perspective. Cooper was a child when his mother died, as well as around the time the murder took place. So as we learn details of the case, it keeps giving Cooper a new lens with which to view his own past. His personal history and the murder investigation intertwine in interesting ways, helping illuminate more about his character and his past as the case goes on.
On the relationship front, things start of rough. I’ll admit that the first chapter or so I was kind of sad to see the way things were going with the guys. It seems pretty clear to everyone but Cooper that Park is totally into him. But Cooper is not a guy to be open with his emotions, and he is so scared to find out that his feelings may not be returned that he keeps Park at somewhat at a distance. At times, I wanted to kind of yell at him to wake the heck up already. But never fear. As the guys spend more time together, and as Cooper opens up a bit with his own family, he starts to really see Park. Not only that, but Cooper finally gets comfortable enough to share his feelings with Park and really open up to him. So it is super rewarding and the guys end up in a really good place. I really like this pair, and there is some fun banter between them that brings some levity to the heavier moments. I am thrilled to see them in such a good place going forward.
It looks like there is another book in the works and I couldn’t be more excited. I am really loving this series and can highly recommend it, particularly to mystery fans. Adhara is really great at crafting fascinating cases and investigations, and I am really looking forward to more.