zenith coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Coming home to Lake Prophet was supposed to be the start of a quieter life for Sheriff Gabriel Thompson. However, once again, murder rocks their small town when a tourist finds a body at Thompson Cabins. Not only is the location Gabriel’s family business, but his brother, Sam, seems to be the main suspect. Gabriel and Sam may be just starting the road to repairing their troubled relationship, but Gabriel knows with certainty there is no way his brother is a murderer. However, the evidence is stacking up and Gabriel knows he must maintain impartiality as he investigates the case. And while part of Gabriel wants to turn to his partner, Tiber Russo, for support, he is always wary about involving Tiber in the case. It is bad enough that one member of Gabriel’s family is in the middle of the mess, he is hesitant to involve Tiber as well.

Tiber is finding himself amidst his own problems, however. Between a creepy new client and what appears to be someone watching his property, Tiber can’t help but be worried. Tiber would normally bring his concerns to Gabriel, but he can see how much his boyfriend is struggling with the murder case and he doesn’t want to add more pressure or be a distraction. When the threats escalate, putting both him and his menagerie of pets in danger, Tiber knows something is seriously wrong, but he still hopes he can figure out who is after him without involving Gabriel.

As the situations grow more serious for both men, it becomes clear the threats they face are personal. Tiber and Gabriel have grown to love one another deeply and dream a future together. But with danger surrounding the men and those they love, it will take all they have to figure out who is behind it all and stop them before it is too late.

Zenith is third book in Eli Easton and R.J. Scott’s fabulous Lake Prophet Mystery series and I absolutely loved it. The books feature Sheriff Gabriel Thompson and his partner, animal behavioralist Tiber Russo. While each book has a discrete mystery and you could probably read this one on its own, it is much better to start at the beginning for the context of their relationship and the various folks in the town (also be aware that this book makes brief mention of the killers in the first two books, so this story will spoil the earlier ones). The authors do such an amazing job here in this third book, not just with the mystery, but pulling together the personal side of things for Tiber and Gabriel.

I’ll admit, I was a bit worried after reading the blurb that I’d find the men too separated in the story, each focused on their own situation, without enough time to see them together. However, that ended up not being the case at all. While Gabriel and Tiber are each investigating on their own, they live together and spend plenty of time together throughout the book. They are connecting with each other, relying on one another for support, and sharing their lives together. So I felt plenty of connection between the men throughout the story and the strength of their relationship really comes through. I find these guys such an interesting pair, so different on the surface, but yet each man has this underlying goodness and compassion. We get an absolutely lovely epilogue that ties things up for Gabriel and Tiber personally, as well as showing how they have each expanded their circle of family and friends who love and care about them.

The mystery side of things is once again excellent. The authors set the book up well with chapters mostly alternating as Gabriel and Tiber each investigate independently. It adds some nice tension, as we go back and forth between them, and gives a chance for both plots to develop. Gabriel’s case is a straightforward murder investigation, complicated by the fact that the prime suspect is his brother. It brings an emotional component to things, as Gabriel believes whole-heartedly that Sam is innocent, but at the same time must investigate impartially. Things with Tiber build slowly, as one disconcerting event happens after another. At first, Tiber thinks it’s just small things that he can handle, but it soon snowballs and becomes clear something much more serious (and deadly) is going on. I liked that, as readers, we start to see little moments that suggest the big picture since we are privy to all the information, but the characters don’t see it right away, as they are on more independent tracks. Eventually, of course, it all comes together and the reveal is well done and very exciting. I also loved that this story leans more heavily once again on the role of Tiber’s animal companions in the case, particularly Duke. One of my favorite parts of Solstice was how the dog plays such a big role in the investigation and here we get to see him once again helping to find the bad guys.

Overall, I found this an amazing trilogy that combines great mysteries with a wonderful relationship. The authors tie the story up so well, giving us a perfect ending for Tiber and Gabriel and resolving all the lingering plot points from the series. Sometimes a set of books just click with you and this series definitely did that for me. This is an excellent mystery and romance and these books are well worth reading.

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