Author: Whitley Gray
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 442 Pages
At a Glance: All in all, Cold-Hearted Concept is a truly great, shiver inducing read.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Detective Beck Stryker has a lot to juggle: his long-distance relationship with FBI profiler Zach Littman, the family issues of cop widow Marybeth Halliday and her two boys, and the ups and downs of being out and proud. To top it off, Beck must work with his closeted ex-lover Van on the case of a skeleton discovered in the woods.
FBI profiler Dr. Zach Littman has been working on an exit strategy for months. Every time he’s on the brink of resigning, Minneapolis Unit Director Sands comes up with “one more case,” one that only Zach can manage. It’s a situation that frustrates Beck. Zach has promised he’ll leave the FBI and profiling behind—as soon as his Colorado medical license comes through. It may be easier said than done. Zach has reservations about uprooting his life and moving to Denver.
A killer leaves a grisly invitation insisting Zach participate in a deadly game, the rules of which are known only to the psychopath. It’s clear taking out Zach is on the killer’s to-do list, and he won’t stop until it’s done. Beck and Zach must capture the killer before the psychopath finds Zach and declares Game Over.
Review: I was highly looking forward to this sequel. I totally enjoyed book one, High Concept, and getting to know the main characters, Beck and Zach. I really wanted to know more about them. Just a heads up – these books read like an episode of Criminal Minds; they are a crime drama procedural first, and a romance second—even though the relationship between the two main characters is truly brought forward in this second book. There is violence and graphic imagery contained within the storyline, so if that is a trigger for you, then be aware.
I have to say I could not put this book down. I read it straight through from beginning to end. To read that way is exceptionally rare for me and a testament to how well this book is written. Cold-Hearted Concept has a few tricks up its proverbial sleeve, and the only one who knows what’s going on is the serial killer. Why does he kill? How does he pick his victims? What does it all mean to him? Is he just crazy or brilliantly crazy? Just how many killers are we talking about here, and how is it possible that they all fit together? And why do they always have to make it so personal? Zach and Ben are working desperately to find the killer(s), and navigate a new relationship, and their struggles are woven into the storyline seamlessly. Whitley Gray does a fantastic job of creating authentic characters—some you love, some you hate, and some who just creep you out—but they are all riveting.
The first one has been a novelty, back before he’d known what he was doing. It took time to adjust to the feel of the knife going into a sentient being – so different from carving cold, dead skin. The utter control and domination he’d exerted over the live girl had generated a much more gratifying response.
Beck Stryker is a detective on the Denver Police Force. He recently came out for his new boyfriend, Zach, and untangled himself from a relationship with his coworker, Van, that was unhealthy and closeted. He’s desperately trying to hold it all together at work, and balance his personal life at the same time. The love that he and Zach share is never in doubt, but is love enough when your new boyfriend is a highly skilled FBI profiler? Beck desperately wants to be “enough” for Zach. Beck is a mountain of steadfastness for the people in his life, and he wants to be that for Zach if the man will let him.
Zach Littman is young, an FBI profiler and a good one. He flies all over the country making profiles of murderers so that local law enforcement agencies know the nature of the killers they are after. Zach gets a thrill from matching wits with serial killers. He loves his job, but he loves Beck more… right? There are so many demands on Zach, from his boss at the FBI to the fascination from a serial killer; how can he keep Beck happy and alive and not become the next victim? I have to say I loved/hated Zach. He tends to have an inflated sense of himself, and it takes a lot for him to learn the lesson that the people in your life should mean more than your job does. Zach’s choices have hurt the ones he loves before, so why does he keep making the same choices?
Shivers. This book gave me shivers and goosebumps. I had to keep reading because I just had to KNOW what came next in the story, and I had to finish it well before bedtime because there was no way I would be able to sleep with this imagery in my head. The inside of a serial killer’s mind is scary place to be, and Whitley Gray does an excellent job of taking you there. I would love to have a story for Van next. If you had told me from book one I would feel sorry for his character, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I can see redemption there… maybe. This is book two in the Concepts Series and a standalone—you do not have to read book one to understand what is going on in this story—but it would help, as there are crossover characters as well as plot lines, but not absolutely necessary. The writing in this book is spot on, the storyline believable and well thought out. All in all, Cold-Hearted Concept is a truly great, shiver inducing read.
You can buy Cold-Hearted Concept here: