Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 7 hours, 34 minutes
Hiding the Moon is a crossover between the Fish Out of Water series and the book Racing for the Sun. I have loved the Fish series and not read Racing for the Sun, but understand it’s premise because it is well-summarized in A Few Good Fish (book 3 of the series). Hiding the Moon is technically the fourth book in the Fish series, but features characters that had been secondary in the series to this point. I honestly think readers coming in on this book will probably fare okay in terms of understanding, but I highly recommend reading either of the series before tackling this one.
Lee Burton is a black ops assassin who’s inexplicably been given a drifting, hippie-ish, college-dropout, donut baker as a target. Burton, a big soldier from the South, can’t fathom who’d want this harmless waif, Ernie Caulfield, disappeared, so he investigates. Ernie seems to be a club kid, who rises early to bake, sleeps the day away, and then parties at the clubs, picking up a little high and some guy, or guys, to wile away the hours until he needs to bake again. How is he a high priority target?
It turns out, Ernie is an extremely talented psychic. He can read intention from across a room or building and tell if a person is good or evil with a touch. It served him well when he was inducted into the Navy a couple of years back, working for Commander Lacy. Only, he didn’t like Lacy’s orders—to identify the “bad” guys who were then groomed to be soulless killers. Anyway, the Navy cut him loose over a year ago and Ernie had no reason to suspect he’d be a target. When Burton hesitates in completing the contract, he ends up having to take out his competition just to keep Ernie alive long enough for some answers.
While on the run, Ernie and Burt connect. Ernie’s seen that Burton is questioning—Burton who’s never been with a man, but has considered it—and wants to bind himself to the man who seems bent on assisting him, both with escape and with investigating his current predicament. Burt leaves Ernie in his safe house, with his friends Ace and Sonny (from Racing for the Sun), in a tiny California town not far from the derelict military base from where Lacy is running his covert operation. While there, Ernie picks up the intersection of Ace and Sonny with Jackson Rivers and Ellery Cramer. Their stories mesh, as Jackson and Ellery try to hunt down Lacy—and undercover Burton is smack in the crosshairs.
This story, while picking up bits from two series, has a force of its own, with Ernie and Burt falling hard and quickly for one another. They share secrets, and stories, and rendezvous whenever possible as Burton infiltrates Lacy’s operation. Lacy holds the secrets that keep Ernie in danger, and Burton won’t stop until he’s protected his man no matter what. We get great insight into Ace and Sonny, their relationship and life together, alongside some fun characters. The Russian “mechanic” is a hoot, and I expect he’ll get a story one of these days. This is the flipside to the showdowns in A Few Good Fish, with Ernie and Burton’s POVs telling the action this time. Their fierce love for one another is what drives them most, with wanting to do the right thing for Ellery and Jackson, as well as Ace and Sonny, coming in second/third in terms of priorities. Experiencing their terror and their suspense as the action unfolds is nerve-racking in the best way. Ernie’s non sequitur, stream-of-consciousness impressions and predictions lighten the story and help drive some action/reaction situations that bind him ever closer to Burton.
As an audiobook, I think Nick J Russo did a great job with this varied cast. He’s not quite as gravel-voiced as the Fish narrator, but didn’t make me question his Ellery or Jackson reprises. Ernie and Burton have strong, distinct voices, and they are also starkly different from Ace and Sonny. I could visualize gruff and beefy Burton, lithe-dreamy Ernie, and even fidgety-ferrety Sonny, and thoughtful Ace through the voices, which was a home run for me. The pace of the narration follows the intensity of the storyline. Ernie and Burton are in danger most of the time, so the moments when they are playful are light and sweet—with tenderness too.
While it’s an action-packed story, there is romance and a love to last building between Ernie and Burton. The story isn’t quite over, as there are more bad guys to apprehend, but I think this one ended on a Happily Ever After, kind of note. I’m looking forward to whatever the next installment will bring, from either of these series.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.