Author: K.C. Burn
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: contemporary, police
Length: 236 pages
Detective Ivan Bekker has hit rock bottom. Not only is he recovering from a bad breakup with a cheating boyfriend, he’s also involved in a drug bust gone bad. Ivan had to kill a man, and his friend was shot and is now fighting for his life. Though Ivan is under investigation for his part in the shooting, his boss sends him on an off-the-books undercover operation to close the case. The timing is critical—this could be their chance to plug a leak in the department.
Off-balance and without backup, Ivan finds himself playing a recent divorcé and becoming Parker Wakefield’s roommate. He finds it hard to believe that sweet Parker could possibly be a criminal, much less have ties to a Russian mafia drug-trafficking operation, and Ivan lets down his guard. His affection is unprofessional, but Parker is irresistible.
When Ivan comes across clear evidence of Parker’s criminal involvement, he has to choose: protect their relationship, regardless of the consequences, or save his career and arrest the man he loves.
I turfed this book at the 15% mark, and wasn’t planning to come back to it. Objecting to the absolute lunacy of the setup on Ivan’s behalf, I didn’t think I could bring myself to read an entire novel that worked with that sort of logic. Curiosity got the better of me, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Starting from an incident towards the end of Cop Out, a book where Ivan was a minor character, we get to follow him into an undercover operation that makes no sense whatsoever. His superior doesn’t even let him clean another man’s blood from his face before sending him into a totally inappropriate operation, using the sort of rationale that barely makes sense even to a traumatized officer. At this point I was snarling and muttering about “Where’s Internal Affairs when you need them?”
So, when Ivan goes to be Parker’s roommate without so much as an interview because someone else picked him for the housemate, it was more eye-rolly—the question of why a budding Mafia man needs a roommate does occur to Ivan, but why anyone bright enough to pound sand wouldn’t even meet first before inviting a stranger into his home does not. Then, their first interaction has Ivan treating Parker like a child, and that’s where I put the book down.
I found Parker to be an infuriating character, partly because he does act so childlike that it was squicky that Ivan, or anyone, be thinking of him sexually. Much was made of the May/December issue by other characters, mostly by trying to insult Ivan for his extreme age of thirty four, but since Parker was only intermittently coming across as twenty two instead of thirteen, it was not Ivan who was the problem.
This was made even more infuriating because Parker was portrayed as sheltered, socially awkward, and frankly clueless because he’d been a caretaker for his dying mother and her financial affairs. That’s a scenario that grows you up fast, IMHO, but not here. His pudgy adolescent phase was used to justify his social backwardness even more, and as excuses for why he put up with the odious Neil, his alleged best friend. Parker meekly puts up with any shit Neil hands out, which only encourages him to take further advantage.
The few instances where Parker shows any strength of character seem peripheral to the story—while it’s admirable that he volunteers in a trauma center, it’s also irrelevant except to allow him a flash of insight later, which frankly wasn’t a great leap. Otherwise he’s either letting people push him around, beating himself up for perceived flaws, or mooning over Ivan, who blows hot and cold as he alternately remembers and forgets that involvement with a suspect is a bad idea. Aside from Parker’s extreme good looks, which he is entirely unaware of, (really, I can’t make this stuff up) there isn’t much besides being a warm body to explain Ivan’s attraction to him. His big moment of maturity comes late and doesn’t last:
...but it might explain why Ivan was so laid back. Unless, of course, that hadn’t been real either. He hated, absolutely hated, not knowing which bits of Ivan were the truth, or if any of them were.He flings this insight to the wind to make the HEA work.
Since Ivan is doing something he knows to be bad police work, he gets to angst too. Having an instance of his angst-driven bad behavior be pivotal to solving the crime was a nice touch.
Between the irritations from an immature character, a poorly designed mission, shoddy investigation, and an unmysterious mystery, the first two thirds of the story were an exercise in frustration. That last third had some really good moments, and seeing Kurt and Davy from Cop Out was nice—Kurt at least was still capable of functioning as a cop. Watching Ivan unravel during this section was one of the better sequences. The ending scene had some LOL lines in addition to Parker again demonstrating that he hasn't thought things through.
The resolution to the investigation made partial sense of the beginning, but had I not returned to the story after swearing off, I would never have known that. And given what else lurked in there, I’m not happier for the knowing. 2.5 marbles