Series: Death and the Devil, #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing on 9th December 2018
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Jack Reardon uncovers secrets for a living, and the Meta-State spy is pretty good at it. Or rather he thought so until he met Ethan Blade—assassin, warrior, enigma. The unlikely pair have decided to give living together a shot, but Jack’s not entirely certain what he’s gotten himself into—or exactly who he’s in it with.
Jack’s worries are compounded when he’s assigned to a police strike force hunting a serial killer. With each new puzzle piece, Jack considers the true nature of a serial killer—and how similar it is to an assassin. To one particular assassin who’s having trouble adjusting to retirement. Jack’s unsure how to help Ethan—or if he even can.
When the killer strikes close to home, Jack must race against the clock to stop another murder, despite the price someone has put on his head. Could the matters be connected? Is a certain assassin at the centre of both? Surrounded by killers, the only one Jack wants near disappears, leaving Jack drowning in secrets. He’ll have to do what he does best—unravel the secrets, including Ethan’s—to stop the killer and save the life he and Ethan have only just begun to build.
After getting heady and awed by L.J. Hayward’s breathtaking first book, this second instalment sort of made my head hurt. The adventures of Jack Reardon and Ethan Blade – lightly putting it – continue here as the story takes a bit of a lateral twist and stalls somewhere in no man’s land as Hayward digs into a murder mystery, dips slightly into an amalgamation of conspiracy theories and tries to advance the already-dysfunctional and wobbly relationship between Jack and Ethan.
Whatever attracted me to the first book did its work here too: the writing is as deliciously assured as always, packed full with detail and multi-layered plot-lines with nary a break for you to take a rest. Hayward’s characters are satisfyingly complex, delicately shorn and written down to the parts that make them – their histories, their thoughts and their actions – and are good enough to practically leap off the page.
But the format here – the alternating chapters of ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ – simply didn’t function as brilliantly as it did for the first one, where there were clearly defined time markers and events between those chapters. Here, it turned out a jumbled mess and a confusing one at that, and I constantly needed to do a lot of mental switching and time-related readjustments of my own just to calibrate after each chapter where I was at, narratively-speaking. The touch of melodrama, much of which did come from Ethan however, felt like there was a touch of angsty, teenage-driven hormonal-tantrums, where emotional development (understandably so at times) couldn’t quite get to maturity level.
It’s all a search and a merry-go-round for most of the book however, interspersed with engaging action scenes, then it’s a fast and somewhat easy wrap-up that had me wondering if the build-up could have taken place earlier.
Jack and Ethan however, are fascinating to read about, the hot/cold sides of them both frustrating at times – they’re imprinted deeply enough that I’m eager, despite my many misgivings about this book, to see how Hayward is going to wrap up this trilogy.