Author: Emmi Lawrence
Publisher: Loose Id
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Medical Examiner Salain Dusari doesn’t like chaos. He prefers things clean and uncomplicated, like the dead. Yet, when he discovers a yellow maze painted on one of his corpses, he gets everything but uncomplicated in the form of the Maze Killer–a serial killer reemerged to haunt the city once more. But that’s not the only person returning to haunt Salain. Detective Arman Omisto, Salain’s old lover, and his partner, Detective Jevette Tunalti, arrive to give the case another crack, bringing a desert’s expanse of memories and lust with them. Between the two detectives, only one is truly excited to see Salain. Problem is, it’s the wrong man.
With Jevette seemingly uninterested in smoothing old hurts, Salain doesn’t think he has a chance of convincing him that the one night they spent together had been the real thing. Yet, when the hunt for the serial killer turns deadly and they only have each other to turn to, he thinks they might just find the trust they need in order to risk their hearts all over again. But with danger blowing in like a sandstorm, violent and sudden, neither of them might live long enough for it to matter.
Review: The day doesn’t start well for Salain Dusari. There is a body in the wrong place. The body has been painted. A serial killer has returned. The Maze Killer case was investigated by Salain’s ex-boyfriend, Arman, so of course he’s back in Salain’s life. It doesn’t help Salain is in love with Jevette, Arman’s partner. Salain just wants to work in his lab and be left alone with the dead. The Maze Killer case is complicated. Acasto’s own police can only do so much if the killer is being protected by Acasto himself. When a murder occurs inside the maze in Salain’s lab inside the station things get worse(Yes, that’s a crazy sentence, but it’s correct.). Everyone is a suspect. Salain and Jevette’s relationship remains complicated. Jevette has already rejected Salain once to keep his friendship with Arman. Circumstances keep pushing Salain and Jevette together. Just as things begin to look better for everyone there is a big, ugly surprise.
I really enjoyed this book. Much more than I expected to. More and more I find I like unpleasant characters. It’s probably more accurate to say I like characters who are allowed to be unpleasant. Salain was hurt. Salain had experienced multiple, significant rejections over the course of his life. He was bitter. It was appropriate he was bitter, and I liked that. Salain also has a pretty big secret. Salain is not only law abiding, he helps enforce Acasto’s laws. This is one of those situations where the world building has done a great job of influencing characterization. The most apt description of Acasto would be Warlord. There are other factions that would love to depose Acasto.
There is a central question in this book that will spoil several things if I discuss it. I like central questions and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
This story is set in DaSunder. Acasto has been in power long enough the younger generation doesn’t remember the devastation of the gang violence before the current peace. Throughout the book there are people unhappy with Acasto’s dictatorial regime. The older generation is stuck between admitting the reality of the problems they face as subjects of Acasto, and their own memories of the atrocities committed by the gangs before Acasto came to power. Things are in a state of flux. This doesn’t necessarily seem it would be important in what could be described as a police procedural with a romantic sub-plot, but the politics of DaSunder were woven into every aspect of the book. It was very well done.
This was a good mystery, though not overly surprising. Mostly, I really enjoyed the world building. Everything from the sand to the political ramifications of an ill thought out conversation. Salain is a complex character best left with the dead, and I liked reading him.