Book review: The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag

Friday, January 29, 2016 Permalink

I’m fairly new to Tami Hoag’s work but enjoyed her last novel Cold Cold Heart, published in January 2015.

I hadn’t realised her latest, The Bitter Season, was part of a series but thankfully it made no difference and I was able to enjoy the book without knowing the characters’ histories. In fact she does a great job, adding context with minimal detail so readers don’t feel they’ve missed out and don’t have to endure four books worth of backstories.

Book review: The Bitter Season by Tami HoagThe Bitter Season
by Tami Hoag
Published by Orion
on January 12th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Police Procedural, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9781409151982 /
Pages: 416

As the dreary, bitter weather of late fall descends on Minneapolis, Detective Nikki Liska is restless. After moving to the cold case squad in order to spend more time with her sons, she misses the rush of pulling an all-nighter, the sense of urgency of hunting a murderer on the loose.

Most of all she misses her old partner, Sam Kovac.

Sam is having an even harder time adjusting to Nikki's absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than pieces of Sam's wardrobe. Sam is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword.

Nikki's case, the unsolved murder of a family man, community leader, and decorated sex crimes detective for the Minneapolis PD, is less of a distraction: Twenty years later, there is little hope for finding the killer who got away.

On the other end of the spectrum, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job.

Little does she know that a danger from her past is stalking her perfect present. A danger powerful enough to pull in both Kovac and Liska and destroy the perfect life she was never meant to have.

I very much enjoyed this outing with Liska and Kovac. Even though the former partners are working on different teams, their relationship’s strong and their banter easy and well-developed.

In fact the characters are great. Obviously Hoag’s had some time to work on them, but even on this first outing I engaged with them easily.

I hope Kovac’s new partner (Taylor) is here to stay as he balances his older colleague well and seems smart and likeable. And is apparently cute! 😉

Hoag touches on the personal lives of her detectives, but only briefly as the focus is very much on the crimes under investigation.

And the cases themselves are interesting. The sex crimes against children cop who was gunned down in his backyard 20yrs earlier is a case Liska really didn’t want to pursue. But once it’s dumped on her she’s committed to find something that many MANY previous teams missed.

And then there’s the case of the murdered art history professor and his wife. Although they seem unlikely victims, we soon learn the cantankerous academic had no shortage of enemies, including his own daughter.

And just for a moment, a fleeting moment, it seems there could be a link between the two very disparate cases.

The plot moves at a great pace and we’re ultimately offered more than a police procedural as Hoag’s added layers of complexity to the crimes and her characters.

So… engaging characters and an interesting plot on top of great writing means this is an enjoyable read.  I’m keen now to read previous novels in the series and will keep an eye for the next instalment.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag was published in Australia by Hachette on 12 January 2016.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

  • Stormi D Johnson
    January 29, 2016

    I haven’t read this author in a long time, this one sounds like a good read. 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 30, 2016

      It is Stormi. Perhaps it’s because it’s the start of a new phase for the former partners… not sure. But I really liked the characters as well.

  • Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)
    January 30, 2016

    So glad that despite this being the 5th book in a series, it stood alone well. I am looking forward to getting to it soon. I have it on audio.

  • Rita @ View From My Home
    January 31, 2016

    I’ve read all except the oldest (romance titles) by Ms. Hoag. Once she moved into more mainstream suspense/procedurals I started and have enjoyed all of her works. I read this one just last week and though I’m no longer giving ratings out, I called it 4/5 on GR. Not my favorite by her, but definitely worth a read. I am invested in the Kovac/Liska relationship since book #1. I like that they can be great friends and love each other without it having to become a physical relationship.

    • Debbish
      January 31, 2016

      This was my first in this series Rita and I loved their relationship as well… the fact they can tease the other comfortably etc. I don’t think I knew she used to write romances.

  • Tahira
    August 16, 2018

    I enjoyed this book immensely, the characters were interesting, their was also a lot of humor. It was a great story and the twist at the end was definitely worth it. Tami hoag is a great storyteller and my favorite.

I'd love to hear your thoughts