Saturday, January 12, 2019
Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs by Aimee Hix: Reading Room Review
Sometimes when reviewing a book, a single word speaks to me that encompasses what stands out about said book. With Aimee Hix's Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs, my mind goes to the word "solid." Everything about Aimee's writing, with her debut Willa Pennington book What Doesn't Kill You and now with the second book in that series, is a solid accomplishment. The story, the characters, the flow, the resolution are all deftly developed without holes or soft spots. Solid. Of course, I can easily add the descriptions of thrilling, suspenseful, engaging, and well-paced. Willa is a character who is evolving both in her personal issues and in her romantic relationship, and she takes both on in the same way she does bad guys, full force. Her strong character drives the action of the story, kicking ass and taking names as she goes. However, Hix has infused Willa with intense feelings for love and for those she loves, which keeps her from becoming a cold kickass. If Willa drives the story, her feelings for her loved ones and her desire for justice drive her. Being an apprentice Private Investigator to her father, she stays especially close to her family. I advise readers to begin with the first book in this series because some of the discussions and actions in this book stem from the story in book one. And, you don't want to miss meeting Willa Pennington in her first appearance, as it's way too good to miss.
Dark Streets, Cold Suburbs begins some months after Willa's physical ordeal in the first book, and her training with her friend Adam at his dojo, in conjunction with some emotional therapy has helped put her back on track, mostly, except for the nightmares. She and boyfriend ATF agent Seth Anderson are having a bit of a rough spot due to an unsettling secret from Seth's parents that sends him into a spin. Of course, Willa and Seth both being on the stubborn side doesn't help. When Seth leaves town for training, Willa's former boss, Detective Jan Boyd, on the police force contacts her with some work that will occupy her time and mind. Jan wants Willa to be a consultant for the police in looking at a cold case, which was Jan's first homicide case and remains unsolved. The case, seventeen years old, involved the death of a young woman home from break during her freshman year of college. With few suspects possible and evidence minimal, Willa agreed to give her fresh set of eyes and thoughts to it, hoping there could be some justice at last for a life snuffed out too soon.
Before Willa gets too deeply into reviewing scene-of-the-crime photos and information and re-interviewing those connected to the victim, another call for help comes in. Aja is a teenager who Willa met at the dojo's and had tried to befriend, giving her a card with her number if Aja ever needed it. Aja needs it, and she calls Willa for assistance in a series of stalkings by an ex-boyfriend. Aja is the quintessential poor little rich girl, whose parents have left her alone in a large house while they are off traveling the world. The stalking by the ex has gotten scary, and Willa swoops in to not only aid Aja with that, but she ends up taking her to the Pennington home to receive expert nurturing from mother Nancy. With Willa's brother Ben going to the same high school as Aja, it turns out to be a good fit, and Aja is rejuvenated by a "normal" family atmosphere. But, her problems with her ex and her ex's associates grows more and more dangerous. Willa must investigate Aja's ex, Damien, and his growing dependency on steroids in the violence he has shown. As often happens, the visible problem with Damien is just the tip of the ice berg. Willa will once again be heading into a nest of vipers.
Author Aimee Hix gives the reader two story lines to follow, and while they may appear to be unrelated, it is the way a private investigator works, handling multiple cases at a time. It gives a great opportunity to see Willa's thinking and decision making processes at full tilt, and it shows her dedication to justice being served, no matter how late. The character of Jan Boyd, with whom Willa collaborates on the cold case, is one I'm happy to see included, and I hope she continues to appear in the series. The current fallout from a stalker's actions against his ex-girlfriend keeps readers in the bosom of Willa's family and revealing more about Willa's relationships there. You would be hard pressed to find a reader who doesn't love Willa's family. Her younger brother Ben is not just a great guy either, as he is a technology genius and finds his way into Willa's investigations as aiding in that area. Even the ATF is impressed with Ben. So, readers get an intense story, with lots of physical action, but they also get a character, Willa, whose sharp edges are kept softened with compassion and the love of her family. She may go her own way during an investigation, but she's never alone.
I received an advanced reader's copy of this book, and I'm happy to give my honest opinion that Aimee Hix has sailed through her second novel with flying colors.