Friday, January 20, 2023

Cordelia Kingsbridge - Trick Roller

It’s the height of summer in Las Vegas. Everyone believes the serial killer Seven of Spades is dead—except Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo—and it’s back to business as usual. For Levi, that means investigating a suspicious overdose at the Mirage that looks like the work of a high-class call girl, while Dominic pursues a tough internship with a local private investigator. The one bright spot for both of them is their blossoming relationship.
But things aren’t so simple. Soon Levi is sucked into a dangerous web of secrets and lies, even as his obsession with the Seven of Spades intensifies. Dominic knows that Levi isn’t crazy. He knows the Seven of Spades is still out there, and he’ll do anything to prove it. But Dominic has his own demons to battle, and he may be fighting a losing war.
One thing is certain: the Seven of Spades holds all the cards. It won’t be long before they show their hand.

Comment: This is the 2nd installment in the Seven of Spades series by author Cordelia Kingsbridge. I've liked the first book, which I've read last year, and I feel quite interested in knowing how the series progresses.

In this second story, detective Levi and bounty hunter Dominic are cementing their relationship and probably ready to label themselves as boyfriends. Things are going slowly, after all there is always some adjustments and their work remains demanding, as do their personal issues. Things become more interesting as Levi investigates anew case and Dom starts an internship for better pay but the fact the Seven of Spades killer is still on the loose and someone took the fall instead is something they can't let go. When it might seem that their investigation might have a new lead or that things go smoothly in other ares, suddenly something happens and everything is doubtful again and Levi's boss is angry as what they see is his "obsession"... but will they find new clues before it's too late?

I actually found this story to be a bit more captivating than the first. It felt as if Dom and Levi as at a better stage, in that initial moment where they are getting to know each other and we can sort of see they are falling in love and, to me, this makes the whole difference because it works as if it's a stable detail from which the rest can develop. I hope the author is planning on establishing them as a good couple, so they can deal with problems together instead of finding ways to make them at odds...

The personal aspects of the protagonists' lives remain a key element to make this story feel richer, more solid. They are working out things between them, they have family members and friends between them who are happy for their relationship and this certainly makes a difference. Both are still dealing with their personal demons, let's say so, and it's not easy or instantaneous that their problems are fixed. Although the author hints at things and difficulties, I got the feeling the aim isn't to make the series a drama fest, and their wins and lows can be seen as a learning curve and a way for them to trust one another. At least, I hope so!

As for the crime investigation, as always in these types of books, I'm amazed at the author's imagination to think of details and things to compose her plot. I mean, obviously there are thrillers and suspense books or even psychological stories where the crimes and stuff are way more complex, but I think, considering the page limit and the fact the focus is divided into more than one aspect, the author did well in creating something intriguing here. Regarding this, I feel the author improved from the first book, where things seemed less organic.

We know from the other book that Levi suspects the real killer wasn't the one the police caught and Dom believes him, after the work they did together. I think that this was played well enough, we have this feeling something might not be that simple or something escaped our attention, but as the plot moves along and we are distracted by the police case Levi and his partner Martine are working on, one little detail and one there start to make it expected that something new is going to happen related to that. I'm often a zero when it comes to place things together (unless it's that obvious) so each new development was interesting.

The story ends in a very movie-like type of scenario, or more appropriately since this is a series, one of those episodes' endings where we are left wondering what had happened. I have to assume the next story will be way more dramatic but I also hope it won't use the main characters' romance, which seems to be going so well, as a way to create drama. Since I'm curious, I'll definitely read the next one...
Grade: 8/10

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