Title: Hard Bitten
Author: M.K. York
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 293 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Suspense/Thriller
At a Glance: Overall this book was fantastic. Another compelling read that I absolutely could not put down.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Rule number one: hands off the witness
As a newbie public defender, Mark Eliades is stuck defending DUIs. But when his latest client gets charged with felony arson, the result is a career-making case he has to win. The last thing he needs is to fall for his key witness. Any hint of impropriety and his credibility will be shot, along with Mark’s case. But the more time Mark spends with the jaded private investigator, the more the rules begin to blur.
Tired of endless nights chasing people who don’t want to be found, private investigator Lukas Nystrom needs a change—and a guaranteed paycheck. When a high-profile contract with the state falls in his lap, he can’t screw it up. Even if it means ignoring his growing desire for the hotshot attorney who hired him.
Convinced their client is innocent, Mark and Lukas team up to investigate the crime. With the trial looming and every lead gone cold, they work relentlessly to uncover the truth. But keeping things professional while searching for evidence they need might just make this the hardest case they’ve ever taken on.
Review: M.K. York is an incredibly talented writer. Her debut novel, Necessary Medicine, made my Best Books of 2017 list, and I enjoyed her brand-new release, Hard Bitten, immensely also. York writes lawyers and courtrooms almost as well as she writes residents and hospital drama. I found myself completely sucked into the story from the very beginning, and loving the characters, the setting—it’s set in Seattle—and the writing style. York’s writing is so vivid, I can perfectly picture every scene. She includes tons of great detail, but it never feels like too much. And, she’s also fantastic with dialogue. Whether the tone of the scene calls for snarky, or serious, or funny, it’s always smart and on point. I thought this exchange was so hilarious:
“Yeah, and then when they find you dead they know exactly who to prosecute!”
“They already know,” Lukas pointed out. “I texted you, there’s a record now.”
“Oh, you texted me. Great. Great! Love it. Foolproof fucking plan! Because I’m definitely the cops, with a shit ton of resources at my disposal to ensure the safety of the citizenry—oh, wait, I’m not, I’m just some fuckass public defender.” Mark’s voice got distant. “Lena! Can you tell our investigator he’s being a fucking moron jackass?”
In addition to the fabulous dialogue, one of the story’s biggest strengths was the characters themselves. Both MCs were well-developed and relatable. Mark is a public defender who is just out of law school and new to the PD’s office. Since he’s so green, the most action he typically sees are the many DUI cases that come through the office, but one of the new cases he’s working ends up being much bigger than the DUI portion that was dropped in his lap. It turns out the woman is also accused of felony arson and murder. Lukas is the private investigator the police force hires to do some additional digging around for the case. l loved both Mark and Lukas a lot. Mark is so self-deprecating and funny and easygoing. And, I appreciate how seriously he takes his career, and how enthusiastically he tackles everything. This bit, where he’s trying to relay some information to Lukas, was so funny…
He called Lukas to tell him, but Lukas didn’t pick up, so he just left a short message. He felt like he probably sounded too excited for a murder case. He didn’t care. This was interesting. For once in his godforsaken career, something more than a driver’s license was at stake.
I liked Lukas so much, too. What’s not to like about a burly Scandinavian guy from Ballard?!? Heh. I told you I liked the setting! But, more about that in a minute…Lukas as great instincts and patience which both lend well to being a good private investigator; and the arson/murder case is very important to him. Working for the state on any kind of permanent basis would mean steady work, and fewer crappy night gigs and stakeouts. It’s critical that he work every lead and leave nothing hanging on this one. And, as the story progresses and Lukas and Mark grow closer, the case matters more and more to him because of how much it matters to Mark.
The romance here was definitely more back burner than it was in Necessary Medicine, but it was still very much a part of the story. The attraction was certainly there, but the risks with them being involved while the case was ongoing were too high, so the UST was off the charts. We’re talking record levels of UST. They have a couple of minor slips while working the case—including a super hot moment while on a stakeout—but they work very hard to stay on the ethical and moral high ground. I really loved them together. They were a great team, both romantically and professionally.
The case itself was intriguing, though I thought it maybe wrapped up a liiiiittle too quickly. There was a fabulous twist at the seventy-five percent mark that I did not see coming at all, and much of the last quarter of the book had me firmly on the edge of my seat. So good and suspenseful. Overall this book was fantastic. Another compelling read that I absolutely could not put down. If you like dramatic suspense, don’t hesitate to check this one out. I love this author’s work.
You can buy Hard Bitten here:
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