The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag writes great murder mysteries but believe that she almost outperformed herself on this one! Not quite sure what the title means but the story line is enough to make one’s mind turn to a slightly Bitter Season!

It really is a great read but it is also very twisted and re-twisted. It all begins with Nikki Laska, a Minneapolis detective, who is working on her first cold case which she has requested believing that it will give her more free time at night to be with her two sons.

At the same time Sam Kovac, her longtime detective partner, has just been assigned a murder case where an older couple were attacked and killed by someone using ceremonial Japanese weapons including a Samurai sword which was very valuable. The man who was killed had been a college professor who was in the midst of a possible promotion in East Asian studies at the university where he taught. Strangely enough he was battling another professor for that promotion and also strangely enough that other professor was very much involved it seems with the murdered professor’s daughter. And that mix-up is just one of the many weird coincidents that begin occurring in this story.

Nikki in the meantime is beginning to dig into her cold case which involves a former police officer who was gunned down in his back yard about 25 years ago by an unknown assailant. She begins running into one brick wall or another as she begins her probe.

One person who pops up happens to be a woman who back 25 years ago was a foster child living in the home of the policeman who was shot. She now works with foster children and has been receiving some strange threats.

This book is really wrapped around and around. You have to be fully awake and alert as you read along trying to keep up with the characters, the different time periods, and then how they all work out. Not a gory story and not a real scary story but it is definitely a well laid out mystery that takes the reader all the way to the end. Characters from the cold case evolve into the current one in the neatest ways.

I enjoy Hoag’s books and this may be one of the best even if it is in fact also the most befuddling one that I have read. Really well done, put together, and everything actually is reasonable and believable! This is a great read.