petty crimes coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Jerry Wilkerson hasn’t always been on the right side of the law. In fact, not five years ago, Jerry was part of a biker gang and involved with illegal drug distribution. But after pretty much hitting rock bottom, Jerry has since turned his life around and is now an undercover operative for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, working to help stop pharmaceutical drug trafficking. It is a painful irony that the man he thought he fell in love with all those years ago, Cyrus Cooper, was actually an undercover agent himself — and he is now Jerry’s boss. But despite the sometimes awkwardness of working for Bo and his husband Lucky at the SNB, Jerry enjoys his work and he is good at it. He is undercover as a small time criminal, Brody Jenson, and his persona as a petty crook gives Jerry access and information in the illegal drug trade.

Jerry’s current case is investigating illegal painkiller prescriptions. The case involves everyone from the doctors who are prescribing the drugs in exchange for kickbacks, to the pharmacies who aren’t doing due diligence about filling the prescriptions, to the companies making billions from their drugs. It also gives Jerry a chance to work with Nico de Silva, and for the first time in a long while, Jerry finds someone who turns his mind from Bo. Nico seems to really care about Jerry and makes him feel loved and cared for in way Jerry doesn’t always get in his life. But the men are only working together for the case, and when it wraps up, that may be the end of what they are building together.

Petty Crimes is a spin-off story from Eden Winters’ amazing Diversion series. We met Jerry in Corruption as a member of the gang that Bo infiltrates when undercover as Cyrus Cooper. Jerry ends up falling for the man he thinks of as Cyrus and runs afoul of the law (and Lucky). So this story jumps ahead to after the end of the Diversion books when Jerry has been brought into the SNB under the same program as Bo and Lucky did all those years ago. My regular readers know I am a huge fan of the Diversion series and loved both the ebooks and the audio. So it was lot of fun to revisit that world again, especially as Bo and Lucky are prominent side characters here. They are basically Jerry’s bosses and are actively involved in supervising the case, so we spend a lot of time with them, which was great for me as they are one of my all time favorite couples. Newcomers to this world should be able to jump into this story just fine, but there are callbacks to people and events in the main series that you will miss if you haven’t read any of the other books. I do think readers can enjoy this one regardless, but fans of Winters’ Diversion world are going to get the most out of this one.

One of the things Winters excels at in both this book and the Diversion stories is building these really interesting cases focused on the pharmaceutical end of the drug trade. Once again, we see the SNB looking to stop those involved and we see Jerry and Nico posing as patients and doctors and working various contacts to take down everyone in the chain supplying patients with these drugs. I found the case interesting and well done, and it is a great chance both to see Nico and Jerry working their investigation, as well as the SNB and their players back on the job again.

The story is told from Jerry’s sole POV, so we get to know him better than Nico. I did feel a bit dropped in the middle of Jerry’s story, however. We get the basics sketched out — Jerry fell in love with Cyrus, he got shot, he came to the SNB — but we don’t get much in the way of Jerry’s background before joining the gang or of his transition to the SNB. There is a bit of information he gives to Nico late in the book, but I did want to have more of a sense of Jerry and how he ended up on the wrong side of the law, as well as how he made that transition to being an agent. Nico is intentionally more of a mystery, as exactly who he is and his role in all of this unfolds over the story, so I was fine with less background on him. I think they make a nice couple and we see how Nico really brings such happiness to Jerry, who has his job but not much else. We also get an interesting callback as Nico isn’t totally forthcoming with who he is, harkening back to Jerry falling in love with “Cyrus” without realizing he wasn’t a real person, just an undercover persona, so that ties together nicely. I didn’t always feel the connection between the men as much as I wanted, and I am not quite sure why. But I do like how it all comes together for them in the end.

I enjoyed this story and think Winters has done a nice job dipping back into this world and creating an interesting case with great characters. I am honestly not sure how much of my fondness comes from revisiting so many favorite characters and a beloved series, but I do think fans of Diversion will really enjoying this world and that newcomers should find lots to like here as well.

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