Asher Radman is an FBI agent who has been called to the small town of Thompsonville, Kentucky. Someone has run a man off the road near a school bus, and the man is badly injured. Right after the accident, the CEO of the company the man works for (Fidelity Independent Research Group, or simply FIRG) receives an email with a video of the accident and a demand to stop research and production of NuHygen, “a revolutionary power engine that, when activated, could provide enough electricity, heat, and cooling for an average home for over fifty years.” This could put big business power companies out of business, causing “financial distress” to the US and several other countries.
Asher and his partner must work their way through political and financial intrigue, as well as figuring out who caused the terrible accident, and determine why someone wants to put FIRG out of business. Can they do this before things get even worse?
I love a good mystery, so when I read the blurb for A Cold Summer Sky, I happily grabbed it up. I couldn’t wait to dive in. Sadly, I have to report I was let down and disappointed with it. I didn’t feel engaged with the story and wasn’t compelled enough to be excited about what was happening on the page.
I’m going to start by saying this book is not a romance. Asher is a gay man involved in a non-exclusive relationship with a man back in Boston. A short, sentence-long mention is made that loving someone is like “flirting with pain” and not wanting to feel that way again. Anyway, while Asher is very smart and good at his job, I wasn’t really feeling him. He feels rather stiff (at least for now). In fact, speaking of stiff, I felt like I was reading a technical manual rather than listening to people having conversations. I realize we needed to be aware of the structural makeup of the engine, but there were long paragraphs describing it in a lot of detail. My mind was on the verge of overload and I was losing interest in the characters, as well as the mystery.
Speaking of the mystery, I feel as if that is the saving grace of A Cold Summer Sky. I admit, I didn’t see the whodunit coming, and I am sufficiently impressed with the author’s creativity. It’s also clear that Charles did a lot of research to make this mystery (and all of the tech) seem believable…like something that could actually happen in real life. In fact, it’s a little frightening.
Alongside Asher, there were some other characters who are important to the story. His partner, Garrot, fit in well with Asher’s investigating style. They worked well together and seemed to be on the same wavelength. Sawyer Wahlstrom is the CEO of FIRG. He’s tough and has a commanding presence. I get the feeling he wasn’t all about getting rich, but he was very protective of his company, as well as determined to get NuHygen off the ground…whatever it takes. Todd Annister is the character who began the story. Working for FIRG, he was proud of the work he was doing before being in the “accident” that put him in the hospital. There were also a few other characters who didn’t feel important, but still helped flesh out the mystery and the book. While there aren’t a lot of them, they seem to be overwhelming.
As I mentioned, the big reveal was surprising, and I was pleased. I do think A Cold Summer Sky wrapped up a little too quickly afterward. Also, I felt a little put off that the final paragraphs were of a sexual, almost locker room, nature. It seemed like it was a little out of the blue, and also out of character.
All in all, while being disappointed in A Cold Summer Sky, I’m curious as to how the series will play out. This is the first installment, so maybe it was a bit of a “growing pain.” I am interested in at least giving book two a read to see if there’s an improvement.