The Bitter Season (Kovac and Liska #5). Tami Hoag. Penguin Group (USA). Copyright 2016. 416 pp.; ISBN: 9780525954552.
Nikki Liska is very good at what she does as a detective in the sex crimes unit in Minneapolis. It gives her better working hours and therefore more free time with her teenage sons. She clearly has her priorities straight, a fact that her peer Sam Kovac clearly respects, although Nikki’s tough verbal stance prevents him or anyone else from uttering that respect. Now she and Sam aren’t working together. Instead Nikki has been put to the task of solving a 20 year-old cold case in which one of their peers, Ted Duffy, was shot to death and the killer was never found. No one except a very nasty neighbor even knew the victim well. So it’s quite a large task Nikki has to complete in just a few short weeks. Add to the fact that there’s another detective who never managed to solve the mystery of this murder but is extremely angry that the investigation of it has now been given to Nikki when he’s put in 20 years trying to find the killer.
There are plenty of suspects: a wife who married Duffy’s brother, a daughter who took years to recover some type of sanity after her father’s death, and two foster children who were returned to the system after Duffy’s death.
Sam, on the other hand, has been given the task of investigating the brutally horrific murder of a professor at the University of Minnesota and his wife. The professor and his daughter are not on good terms, as he is vying for a promotion in the East Asian Studies Department, and his daughter has compromised his eligibility by submitting a complaint against him with that same department in which she also works. The two children of these parents have little love apparent and are suspect as well. But how could this be when the killer was quite proficient in Japanese weapons, a skill that would be hard for most Americans to learn, let alone master.
The two separate crimes will unite eventually but the investigation of both is intriguing and quite amazing, displaying how skilled this author is in presenting a complex, harrowing plot.
The Bitter Season is another crime investigation novel that will be sure to please readers of Tami Hoag’s previous novels and new fans who love the mystery and/or crime fiction genre. Very nicely crafted, Tami Hoag!
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