'THE BITTER SEASON' Continues Tami Hoag's Best Seller Tradition

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper

As I write this review, THE BITTER SEASON is number fourteen on the New York Times "Best Sellers" listing. That is as it should be, as good books ought to be best sellers and not super hyped stories that are poorly written, edited, etc. THE BITTER SEASON is by Tami Hoag, a writer who knows her way around the best seller lists. She has earned her placement(s) on the list as she creates hard hitting, emotionally involving tales that usually concern crimes and the mysteries surrounding them.

In this latest book she has three separate plots that seem totally independent until Hoag decides to show their connecting links. The first is a "cold case" which is being investigated by Nikki Liska, the Minneapolis Police Department Detective who has played a major role in other Hoag novels. Liska has switched over to the Cold Case Unit in order to have more of a routine schedule and to be able to spend more time with her two teenage sons.

Liska's case involves a Minneapolis Sex Crimes Detective who was shot and killed while he was in his back yard chopping wood. The murder happened twenty years in the past and has never been solved. Liska holds out little hope she can solve it after all this time but she is determined to give it a solid try.

Her ex-partner Sam Kovac is missing Liska. He and she had developed a kind of shorthand in their communications and they filled in each other's spaces. He has a new partner who seems to be an alright guy but he isn't Liska and never will be. Kovac has drawn a recent murder case which involves the brutal murder of a college professor and his wife.

The third plot focuses on a woman named Evi Burke. Burke works as a counselor at a rehabilitation center for young women who have fallen on hard times. She is excellent at her job and everyone who works with her loves her. She also has a loving husband and a precious two year old daughter. Life is good, but then she begins to get mysterious phone calls and an ominous note in the mail.

Hoag's genius as a writer is evident from the start as she creates foreboding scenarios in separate and individual places. Readers will instantly renew their affections for the Liska/Kovac team and welcome newcomer Evi into the mix. Hoag gives us a firm enough description of these three people that we feel we know who they are and why they think and act as they do.

The three stories are connected but don't think you are going to discover the "links" until Hoag wants you to. You can imagine all kinds of scenarios but I doubt you will find the real and logical connection they have. I was totally surprised, but it was a good kind of surprise.

Here in these cold days of winter it is nice to be able to settle down with a book that meets all your expectations. THE BITTER SEASON is all you expect in a Tami Hoag novel and more. It is a best seller for all the right reasons.

THE BITTER SEASON is published by Dutton. It contains 368 pages and sells for $28.00.

Jackie K Cooper