Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Wyatt Baker
Length: 7 hours, 56 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Levi Baker is still emotionally recovering from being involved in a fatal shooting during his job at the Las Vegas PD. Things aren’t going particularly well with his live-in boyfriend either, so his life is definitely stressful. When it turns out there is a serial killer at work in Las Vegas, nicknamed the Seven of Spades, the tension ramps up even more, especially when the killer seems to single Levi out for attention.

Dominic Russo is a bounty hunter and when he ends up crossing paths with one of the killer’s victims, he finds himself unable to keep fully out of the investigation. The murder scene he witnessed is something that haunts Dominic and he wants to help. Dominic has skills in tracking people and despite Levi’s discouragement, Dominic can’t let the case go. As he and Levi work more closely together, an attraction between them flares, but Levi still has his crumbling relationship to think about.

The Seven of Spades is a cool, calculated killer that always seems to be keeping just ahead of the cops. Even as Levi and Dominic work together, the killer manages to evade detection. Now, as the stakes get higher, the men are determined to figure out who is behind the killings before more people end up dead.

I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Cordelia Kingsbridge’s Seven of Spades series, so when the audio came around it seemed the perfect time to check it out. Kingsbridge does a wonderful job with creating an exciting and thrilling mystery, with really engaging characters in Dominic and Levi. This story is somewhat of a slow burn, as we see Levi and Dominic move from work acquaintances, to friends, to an attraction. But Levi has a long-term boyfriend and even as that relationship is crumbling, things are just starting to develop for the MCs here in this story. Given that this is the first of five books in the series, the pacing felt just fine for me here. I liked seeing these guys explore their friendship and find an emotional connection with one another, with just the start of something more. Kingsbridge does a nice job developing these characters, making them both strong, smart, and heroic, but at the same time, giving them each some demons that they are working through. In Dominic’s case, it’s his gambling addiction, and for Levi it is his failing relationship and his guilt over the shooting. It makes these men really interesting and nicely developed and I am looking forward to getting to know them more, both independently and as a couple.

The mystery aspect is also really nicely done. The Seven of Spades is a brilliant killer who stages his murder scenes with the playing card and seems to somehow get his victims to never fight back. The killer also seems to single out Levi for reasons none of them understand, which adds to the suspense and tension. I particularly enjoyed watching Dominic investigate, as while Levi is using official channels, Dominic is a little more down and dirty in the way he works, and I really liked seeing how his mind puts pieces together.

I listened to this story in audio with narrator Wyatt Baker. Unfortunately, I found his audio performance pretty wooden and robotic. There is some light inflection that helps, but most of the narration is just very stiff. It isn’t awful by any means; it didn’t ruin the experience for me and, for the most part, I could listen without too much trouble. However, the audio definitely took away from, rather than enhanced, my reading experience. This is particularly the case during more tense or suspenseful moments when the emotions just didn’t come off the page the way I think they may have with another narrator. Also, Levi is Jewish (yay! his religion is nicely incorporated here) and there are a couple of Yiddush words that weren’t pronounced correctly in my experience. I realize pronunciations may vary, but I have a mother who spoke Yiddish as a first language, so I am more familiar than most. This is a small thing, but it did bother me as the other details of Levi’s Judaism where handled nicely and I think pronunciations should be fairly easy to research, especially since one of the words is quite common.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first installment in the series and I am anxious to continue on with the rest of the series. Things are really heating up here, both with Levi and Dominic, as well as with the mystery, and I am definitely excited for more.