A Los Angeles literary agent’s new prosperous and alluring client may be a serial killer in Gold’s debut romantic thriller.
Twenty-three-year-old Zia Lennox hasn’t had much success in her two years at Spark Worldwide Literary. But she knows she’s found something special in a submission she’s recently received. Though Chiseled Bone is crime fiction, a genre other agents have written off as dead, Zia feels the genre is ready for a comeback. Her intuition pays off, as she and New York–based Chiseled Bone author Baxter Leopold are triumphant. Around the same time, Zia catches the attention of investment attorney Bryce Fink. As her chronic anxiety deters nearly every potential suitor, Zia cautiously enters into a relationship with Bryce. But the two fall for each other, which Baxter subsequently complicates. When Zia finally meets Baxter, their physical connection is instant and scorching, especially because Bryce seems reluctant to have sex with her. However, as Baxter writes additional novels, Zia can’t ignore the similarities between the murders in his books and those of a real-life serial killer in New York. She feels guilt over her ongoing affair but may have much more to worry about once she hires a PI to run a background check on her tantalizing client. Gold derives plenty of suspense from the uncertainty surrounding Baxter; even readers initially don’t know if he’s homicidal. Zia is an able but flawed protagonist torn between her affection for two very different men. Supporting characters are distinctive in their own ways, particularly the women: Zia’s administrative assistant, Jazz, is resolute and charming while condescending Spark agent Makayla makes a perfect antagonist. Gold fills the pages with explicit scenes of sex but rarely misses an opportunity to ramp up tension, as when Baxter is noticeably violent with Zia. Despite the concise prose, the final act, in unmasking the killer, becomes a bit convoluted with a surprise plan of global proportions. There are nevertheless a few effective twists that don’t necessarily involve the murders.
A suspense-driven, sometimes erotic tale with impressive characters.