SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: THE BITTER SEASON BY TAMI HOAG

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).

I have read a couple of Tami Hoag books but none in the Kovac and Lista series. Sometimes starting a series when it’s well established can be an issue, but I didn’t have a problem at all with The Bitter Season. Instead, I found myself caught up as the two detectives, former partners and now assigned to different sections, work separately on two awful murders that have more in common than they realise. Here’s the blurb:

A middle-aged couple – hacked to death in their own home – with a samurai sword. Normal people. Who were they? And why were they targeted? It was a shocking crime. But it wasn’t the first.

Twenty years ago a policeman was murdered in his own back garden and the killer was never caught. One woman might link these mysteries. But she is being watched? Can Detectives Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac find her before it is too late?

Taut, tense and terrifying, Hoag weaves a relentlessly thrilling tale which twists and turns with every page.

The Bitter Season is a taut, well-constructed thriller that’s bound to delight established fans and newer ones like me. Two cases, separated by a quarter of a century, cleverly tied together by Hoag to create one bigger story, in which closure is the goal of all involved.

The present-day murder scene is somewhat graphic and well fits the cold, bitter atmosphere of the season; likewise, some of the characters have a coldness and callousness about them that is chilling. However, warmth comes in the form of the witty repartee between Kovacs and Lista, and especially in Lista’s deep love for her teenage sons. As a character, Lista is a stand-out – she’s feisty, clever and can’t get through a day without offending someone. I could well understand the despair her boss felt at times, but even so, I was cheering for Lista.

I found it hard to put this one down and I’ll certainly be looking for more books by Hoag in future. I’d be interested in going back to the start of the series to watch the characters develop through time and life circumstances.

Available from good bookstores ($29.99 AUD). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.