Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Toni Anderson on June 8th 2020
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FBI negotiator Charlotte Blood is at the top of her game. In an effort to halt a tension-filled, armed standoff before anyone else gets hurt, Charlotte is determined to unravel the mystery of a young woman's death on a remote mountainside. Pity she has to fight her stubborn Hostage Rescue Team counterpart every step of the way.
As a highly skilled operative, HRT leader Payne Novak doesn't have time to play detective or make nice with killers who flout the law. His focus is on getting inside the compound and ending the siege as quickly as possible.
Forced to work together to prove the tactical and negotiation arms of the FBI can cooperate, the battle-hardened HRT team leader and the quietly determined negotiator figure out they might have more in common than they anticipated.
As the clock ticks, Charlotte discovers there are some dangers she can't talk her way out of, and the race to unearth long-buried lies becomes a matter of survival for everyone on the mountain.
I actually do think there’s little that Toni Anderson can’t do, especially as she continues to churn out high-quality reads with her FBI Cold Justice juggernaut of a series that doesn’t seem to run out of steam.
With ‘Cold Wicked Lies’, SSA Payne Novak and Charlotte Blood (cue the bad puns here) run out of road early on—the HRT operator and the negotiator walk opposing paths to conflict resolution. Tough action versus peaceful negotiation forms the basis of their conflict, so much so that their superior forces them to do everything together for 3 days like sullen schoolchildren forced to play nice with each other. I had a little snigger with that, but after this, the case itself takes off as Anderson goes into an intelligent web of nitty-gritties that makes the police procedural flawlessly absorbing.
The romance between Novak and Charlotte sort of has an instalove feel, considering it’s simply all compressed into a whole 72 hours, forced as they are from the start to be stuck at the hip in an ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope. But time is drawn out here with so much happening within this short period of time that you’d think days or weeks have gone by instead; their connection is more stronger instead because of the intense action, their emotions magnified and their mutual-infatuation fast-burning but inevitable.
I loved Charlotte’s ability to tread the line between doing her job and standing up for what she wanted; that Anderson makes Novak the emotionally but somewhat evolved cowardly one (it’s something he readily acknowledges) is just icing on the cake given that there’s already a believable yet likeable female lead that has got to be the book’s highlight.