The Bitter Season
The Bitter Season is the latest instalment in Tami Hoag’s Kovac and Liska series. The two Minneapolis detectives return in another fast-paced thriller, filled with Ms. Hoag’s customary high-octane suspense. Unfortunately, the plot is a bit on the unbelievable side, and narrator David Colacci’s performance tainted my enjoyment of this audiobook.
It wasn’t an easy choice, but Sergeant Nikki Liska has left the homicide division. She is a dedicated and talented detective, but the long, often unpredictable hours have begun to take their toll on her relationship with her teenaged sons. She transfers to the newly formed Cold Case division, thinking her working hours will be more stable, allowing her to be there for her sons. Of course, this doesn’t work out so well for her.
The first cold case to be picked up by the new division is the twenty-five-year-old murder of sex crimes detective Ted Duffy. Nikki isn’t thrilled. There are no witnesses and no evidence, and surely there must be another case that a better chance of being solved. But Nikki’s superiors do not agree with her assessment, and so she finds herself looking into the detective’s death. Much to her chagrin, she is blocked at every turn by the victim’s family and friends. What are these people hiding? Nikki is determined to find the answer.
Meanwhile, Sam Kovac, Nikki’s former partner, is struggling to break in a new partner. He misses the easy camaraderie he and Nikki shared, when, to make matters worse, he is called to investigate a double homicide. Professor Lucian Chamberlain and his wife have been brutally slain in their home, using a Japanese sword taken from Mr. Chamberlain’s extensive collection of Japanese weapons. As Kovac and Detective Michael Taylor begin attempting to find the murderer, they discover just how many enemies the professor had.
Kovac and Liska soon find their cases overlapping in a most unexpected way, and honestly, the reason behind the link seemed a little far-fetched to me. I wanted to believe in it, but it just didn’t seem plausible.
I’ve listened to a few of David Colacci’s narrations with mixed results. He has the perfect resonant baritone for a thriller, and has created a wonderfully creepy atmosphere that fits the mood of this book to a tee. I loved his depiction of Sam Kovac, as well as his portrayals of some of the supporting characters.
On the downside, Mr. Colacci makes the hard-nosed, ballsy Nikki Liska sound like a drag queen, and his performances of all the female characters left left much to be desired. He was incapable of portraying a young child in a believable way, and some of his interpretations of secondary characters do not match the author’s descriptions. For example, one man is described as having a smoker’s voice, but Mr. Colacci makes him sound like something out of a cartoon. Overall, I was not impressed.
The Bitter Season is a solid, but not stellar addition to a series I’ve enjoyed for years. If you can suspend disbelief toward the end, you’ll probably find that you enjoy the story. I do recommend picking this up in print rather than audio, as Mr. Collacci’s narration proved very distracting, especially in the scenes featuring Nikki Liska.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: C Content: B Unabridged Length: 13 hours and 45 minutes.