Reviewed by Helyce
NOTE: small spoilers from previous books.
Goodreads blurb: Sheila Pinelli needed to be taken out.
Former cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis never considered committing murder. But six months ago, when Jae-Min’s blood filled his hands and death came knocking at his lover’s door, killing Sheila Pinelli became a definite possibility.
While Sheila lurks in some hidden corner of Los Angeles, Jae and Cole share a bed, a home, and most of all, happiness. They’d survived Jae’s traditional Korean family disowning him and plan on building a new life—preferably one without the threat of Sheila’s return hanging over them.
Thanks to the Santa Monica police mistakenly releasing Sheila following a loitering arrest, Cole finally gets a lead on Sheila’s whereabouts. That is, until the trail goes crazy and he’s thrown into a tangle of drugs, exotic women, and more death. Regardless of the case going sideways, Cole is determined to find the woman he once loved as a sister and get her out of their lives once and for all.
It’s six months later and Jae is well, healed, and moving on with his life. He is dealing with the fact that his family has abandoned him, but he has Cole, as well as Cole’s family, and that is all that matters to him. He finds solace in his photography and is looking forward to an upcoming show. Jae and Cole have settled into their relationship and they are happy, but Cole is burdened by what happened and he is ever more determined to find Sheila Pinelli.
We watch Cole struggle with the fact that though he wants Sheila to pay for what she did, he also feels the need to help her. It’s a horrible place for him to be emotionally, but he is determined to do right by her, in honor of his friend Ben and that means getting Sheila off the streets. In his determination to locate her, however, he finds himself thrust into yet another dangerous situation involving human trafficking, prostitution, drugs and murder.
As always, Ms. Ford spins a suspenseful tale filled with intrigue, emotion and her trademark humor. We are given a bit more insight into Cole’s past with the introduction of two characters; neighbor’s of Cole and his previous boyfriend, Rick. Yet, the true reasons behind Ben killing Rick and then himself remain a mystery. I found this a bit of a disappointment. Ms. Ford give us almost everything, but then holds back the most important detail. I felt like I needed to fill in the blanks, yet the only answer I would come up with didn’t fit with everything the author has given us regarding Ben and how much he valued his friendship with Cole and his then boyfriend Rick. So the question remains; why did Ben kill Rick and then shoot himself?
Through it all, Cole has the support of the people who are most important to him. Though they wish he’d just walk away and let the police handle everything, they understand what pushes his ‘need’ to find Sheila and get her the help she needs. Cole is still dealing with the demons of his past and somehow, through helping Sheila, perhaps he can finally close that chapter of his life.
“I’ve been praying hard on you. More than usual, because really, boy, you could make a saint swear,” Claudia said, taking my hands up in hers. “You’re like a dog that’s been beat, and now you don’t want anyone near your food bowl while you’re eating. I’ve watched you jump at every shadow that’s crossed your path for more than a week now, and I’m getting dizzy with how many times you’ve been turned around. If you think you need to find Sheila–for whatever reason that is–then that’s what you should do. Trust your instincts.”
I fell in love with Claudia, Cole’s office manager who is more mother to him than his biological one, all over again. She is there for him and tells him the truth, always. Cole is still carrying a lot of guilt where Claudia is concerned as well-she was shot on his front porch in a previous book and he’s never forgiven himself for that either. He’s both thrilled and worried that she came back to work, but he can’t imagine his days without her.
In the midst of all the horror, we are treated to some good news too. The McGinnis family is growing. Cole’s half brother Ichiro has decided to stay in Los Angeles and has opened his own tattoo shop. Cole has moved past the hurt of learning that he had a half brother and has welcomed Ichiro into the family. I look forward to seeing what Ichiro will bring to this series.
In true keeping with Ms. Ford’s unique brand of using the ‘element of surprise’ she ends this story with a huge bang. I, for one, cannot wait for the next book.