Since Micah has spent most of the previous two books in a constant drug haze, it was nice to get to know him once he's free of the drugs. He's smart and philosophical, and he's realistic about his situation and the people he hurt with his drug habit. He knows he's got to keep working the program, even the parts that seem silly to him, and he doesn't get defensive when he's called out for veering off the rules. He knows he's got a lot of bridges to rebuild and relationships to mention, especially with his found family who he betrayed in the previous book. So getting know the real him was great.
I also liked that he was just miraculously clean after a stint in rehab. He's still tempted, and he's aware of his triggers and his pitfalls. Being idle is bad for him, so when his fellow rehab friend Austin gets his brother to offer Micah a job, he jumps at it.
Jake, Austin's brother, is a down-to-earth guy trying to grow his landscaping business, but he also has to take care of his younger brother, whose recovery is not going as well as Micah's. And with all his issues with Austin, I really couldn't buy it that he'd jump so quickly into a relationship with Micah. Yes, he questions the wisdom of it several times, and this is one of the few times the mid-book breakup actually makes sense. And even though this relationship develops over a few weeks, as opposed to the first two books which were both over a handful of days, this felt more rushed somehow. Maybe because I didn't really feel the connection, because I kept wondering why Jake, or even Micah, would risk a relationship at this point in their lives, and Austin's just another complication.
Really, this is a massive spoiler. You've been warned.
And I kind of felt that killing Austin off was just a little too "easy" for getting rid of that complication. Obviously, not easy emotionally for the characters, but easy narratively for the author.
I'm not sure what to make of the gentrification plot that's introduced here and which will be resolved somehow in the next book, which makes this kind of a cliffhanger. I guess I'll wait and see that resolution before deciding on it - though reading the blurb for the next book, I can already guess where that's going to go.
The three little snippets or interludes at the end were more like teasers for the next book than anything else, fun to read but not necessary.
Oh, and no way is that African violet surviving. They're way too picky and finicky to grow under the best of circumstances.
I can see why this is compared a lot to Openly Straight, but the differences were enough that it didn't feel like I was listening to the same story all over again.
Bobby's a high school senior and starting QB of the football team when he's outed. He's also got issues at home unrelated to this that he has to deal with at the same time. There was surprisingly little drama. Though Bobby has to overcome some prejudices and deal with some homophobes, he's also got a lot of support.
One thing to note: this is NOT a romance in any way shape or form, so don't expect that if you're going to read or listen to this. Bobby does eventually get a boyfriend, but it's a very small part of the story and not a "forever" boyfriend.
The humor worked for me here more than anything else, and the narrator did a good job for the most part. I have to question some of his voice choices, but that's a personal detail that might not bother others. Also, if you're only listening to the audiobook, the ebook has a bonus chapter of Bobby looking for colleges to play football for that can be considered an epilogue, and a brief "interview" with Bobby's friend Carrie that's short and sweet but doesn't really add much to the story.
CW (because I forgot for the first one): drug addiction of a side character (family member of an MC)
So as with the first book, this is dual narration, which is still not my favorite. But also as with the first one, each narrator does a great job with their individual parts. It's a catch-22 any time this situation comes up. *shrugs*
The author is also continuing with the villain POV, though I thought it was better integrated here and the reveals as to why he was doing what he was doing and how he was connected to the victims was handled better. Still don't really care for villain POV in mysteries like this, but she does it better than most.
There was one thought that kept niggling at the back of my mind while listening to this: how much time exactly had passed since the previous book. If they mentioned it, I didn't catch it, but it didn't seem like a whole heck of a lot of time had passed. Yet already Mason and Ava are practically living together and act like they've been a couple for years instead of still getting to know each other. I'm not sure I really buy that level of synchronicity so soon into a relationship.
Also, Ava was shot in the shoulder at the end of the previous book and she's still going to physical therapy for the injury - but she's already cleared for field duty? Um...if you say so. She should either still be on desk duty (and did she even do a psyche eval?) or there should have been a lot more time between books. There was really no need for this book to pick up so soon after the previous one.
And given all the injuries poor Ava sustains again at the end of this book, there really better be adequate time between books - and psyche evals better actually happen for both her and Mason. Jeez.
Really, is Ava going to be severely injured at the end of every book? Can she not? Surely it's Mason's turn next. :D
The mystery itself was interesting up to a point.
It kind of stretches believability that every single one of the victims still lived in the Seattle area after nearly two decades. The congressman and Derrick I can see staying put, and even Joe since he was a slacker. But the other two could have just as easily moved out of state and realistically probably would have given what happened all those years ago.
Also, it was rather convenient that Jane was date one of the potential victims. Because of course she was.
Still, it was better paced than the previous book, as I mentioned before, and it was odd enough to keep my attention even after I figured out what was going on. The lead up to the climax looked like we were headed toward Silly Town but the author was mostly able avoid it. And I like how Mason and Ava were able to remain professional (fancy that!) and keep their cool under pressure.
I'm starting to get annoyed with Jane. Ava reminds me of those parents who constantly bail their kids out of trouble so they don't have to face the consequences of their actions and then are amazed when said kids have no moral compass or impulse control. Ava, you're doing sisterhood wrong.