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Bike messenger gets mixed up in blackmail.

Jace Damon’s creed: get it there. On time. And if he has to sideswipe a Cadillac, tangle with a security guard, and sneak into an LA office tower filled with suits sneering at his ragged clothes and his beat-up bicycle, so be it. Jace’s mother is dead, his father unknown, and he has a little brother to support. Can you spell sympathetic antihero? How about made for the movies? Eta, the sassy black dispatcher (Whoopi Goldberg), sends him out on one last run. The good news: he gets a $20 tip from sleazebag attorney Lenny Lowell, who hands him a wrapped package, contents unknown. The bad news: after Jace leaves, Lenny gets his brains splattered all over the ceiling. Disillusioned, middle-aged detective Kev Parker (George Clooney) and his sexy young trainee, Renee Ruiz (Jennifer Lopez), trade wisecracks amidst the gore and start looking for suspects. Jace (Ethan Hawke/Keanu Reeves/Hugh Jackman) is no slouch at outrunning the law and hides out in his crummy Chinatown apartment, sticking to his second job, shoveling ice at a fish market. His curiosity gets the better of him and he opens the mysterious package to find negatives (what, no digital cameras?) that someone known as Predator would kill to get. No use explaining that to Lenny’s daughter Abby (Sandra Bullock), whom Jace happens to meet. Parker and Ruiz dig deeper. Looks like the killing could be somehow connected to Rob Cole (Robert Blake—no, he’s already in jail), a down-on-his-luck movie star accused of murdering his rich, frumpy wife (Kathy Bates). Next to die: Eta, a single mother of four. And so it goes, as the action heats up some but not a whole lot.

Capably written, though without the edge of Hoag’s previous thrillers (Dark Horse, 2002, etc.) and a bit formulaic. (Are there still bike messengers in sprawling, auto-obsessed, freeway-ridden LA?) Still, the appealing cast is a plus.

Pub Date: July 6th, 2004
ISBN: 0-553-80195-3
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2004

Kirkus Interview
Tami Hoag
January 15, 2016

In Tami Hoag’s latest thriller The Bitter Season, as the dreary, bitter weather of late fall descends on Minneapolis, Detective Nikki Liska is restless. After moving to the cold case squad in order to spend more time with her sons, she misses the rush of pulling an all-nighter, the sense of urgency of hunting a murderer on the loose. Most of all she misses her old partner, Sam Kovac. Sam is distracted by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned to death in their home. Nikki's case, the unsolved murder of a family man, community leader, and decorated sex crimes detective for the Minneapolis PD, is less of a distraction: twenty years later, there is little hope for finding the killer who got away. “This tense psychological thriller shows Hoag at the top of her game,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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