I really loved the way Gerri Hill approached this story, which is about the hunt for a serial killer. It is unusual in that the serial killer aspect of the story is a slow burn and doesn’t really start in the first half of the book.
Instead, we meet Detective Jake McCoy at her cabin in the mountains of Colorado, recovering from a shooting incident with fatalities. It has left her in a lot of pain, walking with a cane and having bad dreams. She is a loner and has done up her cabin herself, her companion being her dog Cheyenne who appears to be her only true friend. She improves her fitness so that she can take an overnight trek to her favourite hot springs.
Dr Nicole Westbrook is a psychologist who specializes in women who are in, or have been in, abusive relationships and has particular success with group therapy sessions. However, she is suffering from burnout and after discussions with her mentor and secretary decides to go backpacking in the Colorado mountains for a vacation.
The women meet at a hot spring and have sex as strangers. They leave the mountains still strangers and unaware of anything about each other.
Once they get back to Denver, Jake starts to investigate a murder, and the trail leads to Nicole and the thriller really starts.
Oh! These characters are so cleverly dealt with by Gerri Hill. Their relationship becomes the catalyst for the story, but it would mean nothing without their back stories, and the serial killer aspect becomes entwined in their relationship. A butch detective and the society professional are such a contrast and their situation at times is such that as a reader I found myself embarrassed at the society group opinions of, and treatment of, Jake.
Jake is so much more than the usual brooding detective, and I loved how she spends all her time and money getting back to her cabin. It is so much a reflection of her character and in contrast to her empty city persona. There is also something about her character that says, ‘take me as you find me’.
Nicole is a workaholic who takes on the pain of a lot of her clients and spends most of the story trying to maintain her professional approach as she suffers from overload. She moves in social circles with other lesbian professional women, none of whom are out to the rest of the world. The sudden injection of Jake into her world leaves her very off balance.
The Writing Style
The story is beautifully written and the late introduction of the serial killing aspect of the story is just so well done.
In addition to the unusual story structure, you are drawn into the relationship between the two women because they do not meet for the first third of the book which adds to the unusual style. Each chapter alternates between the women and describes their back stories to the point of their first meeting. And what an exquisite meeting!
These alternating chapters give you additional insight into the characters and their motivations. It also means that as the hunt for the serial killer begins you understand the different decisions the women make. The observation of the trails and the area around the cabins makes it easy to understand the wilderness aspects of some parts of the story.
I tried to write about what I liked best and ended up with a very long list. I deleted it and will just say if you like your thriller with a good romance and some hot sex, then this is for you. Go and buy it!
There are none and while there are aspects of domestic violence discussed, there is nothing given in any detail.
A really classic knockout read from 2006, which I believe is one of Gerri Hill’s best.
Excerpt from The Killing Room by Gerri Hill
“We got company?” Jake asked quietly. Cheyenne growled low in her throat, then stood and walked quickly along the bank. Jake followed the dog with her eyes, finally seeing movement in the trees.
“Oh, shit,” Nicole murmured as the large brown dog bounded up to her. She stood still, her earlier excitement of seeing steam rising from the water—a telltale sign of hot springs—vanished as she was being stalked by this . . . “Nice doggie. I hope.”
It was only then that she saw someone in the water. Again, her elation at not only finding a hot spring but another human as well, was curbed by the curious dark eyes watching her.
Nicole froze as the dog walked closer, sniffing her pants and boots, then nudging her hand with a wet nose. “Please don’t bite,” she whispered. Finally, the dog shook herself and turned, trotting back to her owner. She watched as the woman in the springs reached out a hand and affectionately rubbed the dog’s head. Nicole cleared her throat, deciding she better ask first instead of just walking over.
“Is it safe to come closer?” she yelled. “I mean, with the dog.”
“Cheyenne won’t hurt you.” Nicole stared. “I guess that’s a yes, then,” she murmured. As she walked closer, Nicole politely averted her eyes. The woman was naked, casually sitting on a rock as the water swirled around her waist. Great. A naked woman. A naked woman with . . . perfect breasts.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594930508
- Publisher: Bella Books Inc