Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

The last thing Royce Locke wants is a new partner. His last partner and best friend killed himself just a few months ago and dealing with someone new is more than Royce can handle. Especially when the someone new is Sawyer Key.

Sawyer has plenty of his own pain. When his husband of eight years died, Sawyer spiraled into depression and the homophobia at his job just made things worse. Now he’s transferred departments and Sawyer finds himself saddled with the standoffish and obviously wounded Locke.

Locke and Key are forced to hit the ground running when several high profile murders land on their desk. They must track down the killers while trying to figure out what kind of partnership they’re going to have. But a bullet may end things before they even have a chance to begin.

Ground Zero was kind of a roller coaster. It started off rubbing me the wrong way and I wasn’t sure I’d end up enjoying it. But during the second half of the book, the pacing improves and the characters seem to find their groove and things really turn around. So while Ground Zero is something of a mixed bag, it does end on a high note.

I usually love puns. Nothing makes me chortle more than a stupid pun. But when they involve character names, I loathe them. They take me right out of the story and that was my biggest issue right off the bat with Ground Zero. I eventually managed to ignore how badly the Locke and Key names grated on me, but it just reads a cheap joke that falls flat time and time again. The first half of Ground Zero struggles with pacing. The murders aren’t particularly original and reading about the investigation was like wading through a swamp. At the same time, the relationship between Locke and Key is on hyperdrive and doesn’t feel developed or believable.

And then things shift. I think one scene in particular helped swing things around and I won’t go into details because of spoilers, but it gives both characters a chance to move past their posturing and they start to feel dimensional and real. The flow of the story picks up and the book changes from a boring procedural into a more engaging story. By the end, I was enjoying the interplay between Locke and Key and, on the whole, I was able to see how these two men might fit together in future novels.

I’m usually a fan of this author and so I was a bit surprised when I struggled so much to engage with Ground Zero. But eventually, the book found its rhythm and the main characters started to mesh in an enjoyable fashion. This is the first in the series and I am looking forward to seeing how things evolve for Locke and Key.