Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home. He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better. This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.
Dear TA Moore, I really enjoyed your book “Liar, Liar” and reviewed it here at DA, so when I saw you had a new one out, I happily one clicked.
This review will be easy to summarize in one sentence. It was a good mystery, but for me did not work as romance at all.
The blurb gives you a good set up. Our men have to work together while investigating the kidnapping of the child. And I thought mystery storyline was once again done really well. I thought it was complex enough, but at the same time possible to figure out based on the clues when one looks back. I liked how investigation was done and enjoyed reading about Cloister (don’t ask! Actually do ask because if my parent ever did that to me, I would be very pissed off J) interacting with his dog Bonnerville.
Let me once again give my usual speech about romance in the gay mysteries and thrillers. I *don’t need* it to be present at all, I would happily read about investigation alone, but it is always a nice bonus to hear that the investigator/detective/policeman has a loved one at home. So what I am trying to say is that I am totally fine with romance storyline being as brief as it could be in the mystery book (or not be there at all). But I am thinking that if one puts the two guys who clearly physically attracted to one another front and center, if one puts *their physical attraction* front and center, shouldn’t there be some signs of deeper attraction as well? Some chemistry maybe?
Moreover, this is a book published with romance publisher. It is not even part of their DSP publications line, where romance often takes a secondary role and other storylines move front and center and I enjoyed so many of those books.
So what do we have here? We have here one of my favorite tropes (and I am usually deeply ambivalent to tropes, but still enjoy this one) – from enemies to lovers. I would also argue that the execution of this trope was not well done at all. Now when I am finished with the book I can see the similarities as to how “romance” was done in “Liar! Liar” to this book, but while “Liar!Liar!” worked for me, this one didn’t at all. I get that the author was going for the understated chemistry here as well, but to me it was so understated that I could not feel anything at all from either of them. More importantly, I was totally fine with Javi being an asshole in general. I especially did not think that he was being an asshole while doing his job – no he did not coddle anybody and investigated every angle and while I absolutely could understand Lara while they were trying to look for her boy, when all was said and done IMO she should have been just as grateful to Javi as he was to Cloister.
Heck, I could have even handle Javi being an asshole to Cloister. As I stated before I love well done antagonistic chemistry. What I could not handle was Javi being an asshole to Cloister *for no reason at all*. Just what did the poor guy ever done to him I had no idea even when I finished. My only answer was that he was hiding a desire behind being an ass and I am sorry I thought he was being stupid.
At least I thought ending was fitting. I don’t even know if I would call it HFN, but I guess you can call it that way since they are going to continue their sexual relationship.
Grade: B for mystery D for romance