REVIEW: Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon
Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he’s heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam “On the Beach.” Now he’s got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a cruel and cunning serial killer in a remote mountain resort in Oregon.
Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he’s a tough and efficient cop — and he’s none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf — even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department’s league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob’s league, but that doesn’t mean Rob won’t take his best shot.
Dear Josh Lanyon,
I have been looking forward to this book. I preordered it the moment I saw it available on Amazon, but once again I was worried. Recently, worrying about whether I will like new books by favorite authors is something I seem to be doing a lot.
After I finished the book I have to admit that I find the blurb to be “interesting”. Oh there are no lies in there, there are pretty much no facts except basic setup, but I get it – it *is* mystery after all. No, I just feel that the blurb wants the reader to think that the romance is the main storyline of the book. It is there, but I thought that the book was mostly a mystery with a secondary romantic storyline exploring the beginning of a relationship. Do not get me wrong, I liked it that way and I thought that both guys’ personalities were explored pretty well throughout the investigation, I just do not want anybody to go into the book thinking that they will be getting a romance with the mystery as window dressing for it. On the other hand, I doubt many readers familiar with Lanyon’s work will think that, so maybe I am overthinking it.
Adam and his partner Jonnie arrive at the mountain resort of Nearby because the local sheriff thinks that their murder victim is connected to a serial killer investigation FBI is working on. The local law enforcement team can’t remember having a homicide case on their hands before, but very soon they have enough murders to last them a lifetime. It turns out that this murder is not connected to their investigation, though, so Adam and his partner leave Nearby. Several months later, they are back, or should I say Adam is back with a new and annoying partner, because another murder has taken place and the local sheriff, Frankie, called for help and specifically mentioned Adam.
Oh and during their first visit Adam and Rob (the deputy sheriff) managed to have a one night stand – I got the impression that neither was in the closet, but also not loud about being out, I guess? I was very pleased to see how it was handled – neither of the characters seemed to be pining over their one night stand. However, when they have to work together on this string of new murders and search for new serial killer/s, the attraction between them heats up very fast – within several days really. I guess it was a fast attraction, but I believed that they had potential, and it was not melodramatic. Both men seemed to realize that they did not really know each other, but they are willing to see where things go, and of course constant danger probably makes whatever they feel for each other get stronger much faster. I was selfishly pleased that neither of the guys had BIG ANGSTY ISSUES (so many of romantic leads seem to have those these days) which they had to deal with. Adam did have some relationship issues and work-related issues, but they seemed real. It made sense to me that two people in highly stress-prone jobs could not make a long distance relationship work. I do wonder whether Adam’s previous lover was somebody we already knew, or was it just they had the same name? I was too lazy to go and reread that book to find out to be honest. If he was who I think he was, I thought it was amusing.
Adam also messed up one of his previous cases, but once again the way it was described it made perfect sense to me – I don’t see how any conscientious law enforcement officer could have worked it any other way, but at the same time I can see why the echoes of that case still hunt Adam. I just did not feel that Adam behaved as a drama queen, if that makes sense.
I really liked Rob. I thought he was a good fit for his job, was a genuinely nice guy, and despite what the blurb says he really did not resent Adam’s help except in the first hour or so of his first visit. I thought Rob took the words “protect and serve” really seriously: he felt that he personally let the people of his town down, even though that was 100% in his head.
I thought he and Adam had all the potential in the world to be very good for each other. I hope they will work out. So I keep talking about romance, which as I mentioned above I thought was a secondary storyline. Let me talk a little about the mystery – I thought it was very well done. I was very proud of myself that I managed not to look at the last page, because that does not happen too often, but the killer was not really revealed on the last page. It was more like the investigation zeroed in on the killer.
I also really liked Frankie, the competent and tough female sheriff of Nearby, who had great instincts and who also knew when to ask for help. As an aside, it was very amusing to finally see an acknowledgement that FBI usually arrives because local law enforcement asks for help. I do not know where I learned this bit of information from, but I roll my eyes too often when arrogant FBI officers arrive to shove off the local law enforcement who had no clue and who nurse the resentment against them. Sometimes it makes for a great “from enemies to lovers” read, but I still think of it as silliness. I’m glad to see this book did not go that route.