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Kovac and Liska #5

The Bitter Season

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EVERY FAMILY HAS A SECRET. THEIRS WILL CHILL YOU TO THE CORE.

#1  New York Times Bestselling author Tami Hoag returns to the bestselling series of her career with a Kovac and Liska case that will delight fans and new readers alike.

A murder from the past. A murder from the present. And a life that was never meant to be... 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 having an even harder time adjusting to Nikki's absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than pieces of Sam's wardrobe. Sam is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword. 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.

On the other end of the spectrum, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job. Little does she know that a danger from her past is stalking her perfect present. A danger powerful enough to pull in both Kovac and Liska and destroy the perfect life she was never meant to have.

“Masterful…Authentic, dark and intense.” - Tess Gerritsen

416 pages, Hardcover

First published January 12, 2016

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About the author

Tami Hoag

93 books5,084 followers
Tami Hoag is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, including her latest thrillers—BITTER SEASON, COLD COLD HEART and THE 9TH GIRL. Renowned for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, Hoag first hit the New York Times Bestseller list with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller.

She leads a double life in Palm Beach County, Florida where she is also known as a top competitive equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage. Other interests include the study of psychology, and mixed martial arts fighting.


Visit her at www.tamihoag.com, Facebook.com/TamiHoag and on Twitter @TamiHoag

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,116 reviews
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,801 reviews830 followers
July 3, 2018
3.5-4 Stars

The Bitter Season
is book five in the Kovac and Liska series, but you don’t need to read the previous books to enjoy this crime procedural type mystery. The story kept my rapt attention as Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac questioned suspects, walked in the shoes of the victims, and dug deep down for clues.

Detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska have been partners in the Homicide division for many years, but Nikki has just transferred to Cold Cases to get away from the long hours required for fresh homicide investigations in order to spend more time with her two teenage sons. As a single parent, she wants to put her boys first. Nikki misses the excitement and adrenaline rush from Homicide, but she learns that Cold Case has its own special challenges. I’m thinking that by the end of The Bitter Season, Nikki might just welcome boring once and a while! I think I would! Sam and Nikki have their own cases they’re working on, but in a bizarre twist they end up tying together.

Sam lands a sensational double homicide where a well-to-do middle aged married couple is murdered in their home with a samurai sword. The scene is messy, bloody and attracts the media’s attention immediately. The husband, Lucien Chamberlin was generally disliked by his work colleagues and family, so there is no shortage of suspects.

Nikki’s homicide, a sex crimes detective, shot and killed in his own backyard, happened twenty-five years earlier. She’s hindered at every turn by almost every family member, which completely floors Nikki. Who doesn’t want the murder of a loved one solved? The original investigating detective, a chauvinistic dinosaur, is also a pain in the butt, but no one gets in Nikki’s way when it comes to an investigation. She’s a little determined powerhouse with balls! Nikki had me cracking up throughout the story!

“Could we have some kind of signal for when you’re about to say something outrageous?” Seley asked. “I almost peed my pants!”
“A signal would require premeditation on my part. I just open my mouth and stuff comes out.”

I’ve enjoyed Tami Hoag’s mysteries for years. The Bitter Season had many twists and turns, and I was glued to pages, but I thought the final reveal was rushed and there were a few things I wished would’ve been expounded on. The main focus of the Kovac and Liska series has always been the main mystery with a sprinkling of personal their personal lives. I do wish Tami Hoag would give them a love interest. I thought (hoped?) that maybe they’d fall in love with each other, especially now that they’re separated somewhat in their job. I guess I’ll have to keep wishing and hoping. Maybe in the next book?

A copy was kindly provided by Dutton via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julie .
3,990 reviews58.9k followers
March 25, 2016
The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag is a 2016 Dutton Books publication.


Back before everyone was trying to write the next “Gone Girl”, Tami Hoag was pumping out solid romantic suspense novels and edge of your seat thrillers. She has found a nice solid niche with her own brand of psychological thriller, in the Kovac and Liska series, this being the fifth installment.

Tami Hoag has always been one my ‘go to’ authors and I do make every effort possible to read every single one of her novels. This book, like all the others before it, drew me in immediately, and for the most part held my undivided attention from start to finish.

For those who have followed this series, you will find some things have changed just a bit, as
Liska joins the newly minted cold case squad, and Kovac is breaking in a new partner. But, never fear, the dynamic duo will soon find their paths crossing once more, in this dark, lurid, tale of suspense and mystery.

“Thou hast spoken right, ‘tis true. The wheel is come full circle…” from King Lear- William Shakespeare

Liska’s first assignment in the cold case squad is to solve a twenty-five-year old murder in which a sex crimes officer was killed while chopping wood at his family home. Naturally, with his line of work, he had enemies, but as Liska begins taking a closer look at the man’s family, friends and neighbors, she hits a nerve… or two.

Meanwhile, a much despised college professor and his wife are brutally murdered in their posh home, and Kovac is once more in the spotlight as the lead detective.


“If there’s one thing I can assure you about working Homicide, it’s that you are going to see some of the most mentally F’d-up family situations you can imagine. After all the years I’ve been doing this job, just when I say I’ve seen everything, somebody comes up with some new and different way to be a sick, perverted wack job. Never judge a family by their address or bank account,” he went on. “And never underestimate the power of the American public to utterly shock and disappoint you.” – Kovac


These words of warning Kovac gives his new partner proved prophetic as this case turned out to be one twisted tale of family dysfunction and abuse, which led to tragic consequences for so many people.

I was spellbound by the cold case more so than the murder of the professor and became annoyed by the intrusion of that part of the story. Of course the two cases are intertwined, and I confess, I literally gasped out loud with shock at the way it all came together. I never saw it coming, and for someone as jaded as I am, that’s saying something.

The only complaint I have is that going into the home stretch the story slowed down to a crawl without anything interesting taking place. There are portions of the book that could have been skipped over which would have helped to keep the timing sharp and the suspense from losing momentum.

However, the wait is worth it in the end, which left me feeling short of breath, and completely stunned. This is a traditional psychological thriller, gritty and dark, and disturbing, as it should be, but also emotional and sad, with a realistic conclusion, that left me feeling unsettled and maybe even a little melancholy, but happy that the truth was finally revealed, no matter how difficult it was to absorb.

Overall, this is another solid effort by one of my favorite authors. 4 stars
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,634 reviews170 followers
November 17, 2019
I listened to this book on audio, and I liked it.

Although I’ve not read the previous books in this series (which I advise you to do) the plot was very very intriguing and mind blowing which more than made up for my lack of back story on the characters.

I think this is a series I’d go back on once I’ve caught up on some books I need to read.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,634 reviews448 followers
December 26, 2015
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I really liked this one. When I saw that I had the chance to read an early copy of this book, I jumped at the opportunity. Tami Hoag is an author that I have wanted to read for quite some time but just haven't actually sat down with one of her books until now. I really don't know what I was waiting for because this book was really very good. I predict that there will be a lot more of Tami Hoag's work in my reading future.

This book is the fifth book in the Kovac and Liska series but it reads just fine as a stand alone novel. It did take me a little bit to keep all of the characters straight but readers new to the series should be able to follow along as I did. Kovac and Liska are former partners who are now working in different departments which means that this book actually follows two cases. Both of the cases were incredibly interesting and I have to admit that I was completely stumped.

The characters were just as interesting as the case that they were working. This book has a pretty large cast of characters. Sam Kovac is a long time homicide detective that is currently working a case that is getting a lot press. Of course any double homicide that involves a sword wielding ninja is really hard to keep out of the press. Sam's new partner, Taylor, doesn't have a lot of experience but he has really good instincts. Nikki Liska is now working cold cases which is supposed to be more of a 9 to 5 job which will work better for her because of her sons. Her first case is a a 25 year old unsolved murder of a sex crimes detective which she suspects will be nearly impossible to solve. All of the characters connected to both cases brought something to the story.

I was really impressed by the complexity of both of the cases featured in this story. They were both equally interesting and were featured in equal amounts in the story. I was completely in the dark with both of them. I felt like I was right there with the detectives as they worked to figure out what had really happened. I liked how the story showed how much the work affected the detectives. Their overwhelming desire to solve the case felt very realistic. There was a lot of excitement worked into this book and I honestly couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

I really liked the way this book was written. Two major story lines were able to be woven together seamlessly. The focus of the book was able to change hands at just the right moment to keep the interest level high. The pacing of the story was also very well done.

I would highly recommend this book to mystery thriller fans. This is the first book by Tami Hoag that I have read but I am really looking forward to reading more from this very talented author. I definitely plan to read the previous books in this series and I can't wait to take a good look at all of her other work.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Dutton via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
I really liked this one. Two complex cases that were incredibly interesting and had me stumped. I thought the the characters working to solve the cases were just as interesting as the work that they were doing.
Profile Image for Tucker.
385 reviews103 followers
March 11, 2018
While I always enjoy Tami Hoag’s books, the Kovak and Liska books are my favorites. Their sarcastic and witty banter overlays the deep affection and respect they have for each other, and their investigative styles mesh perfectly. In “The Bitter Season,” Liska has just moved to the cold case squad so that she can have more time at home with her teenage sons. Although she and Kovak are no longer partners, their paths still cross when it seems their separate cases may have a common link. This was a tightly plotted, suspenseful, and absorbing mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will be enthusiastically recommending.

Thank you to Penguin Group/Dutton and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Retired Reader.
123 reviews47 followers
May 22, 2017
Suspenseful and well-written. Straightforward story of murder, one a double homicide in the present and one a cold case from 25 years ago. As the book progresses, we begin to see possible connections between the two that no one has investigated. I couldn't really connect with any of the characters, so just 3 stars from me. I haven't read any other books in this series, so maybe that's why. Still an enjoyable read!
Profile Image for Erin.
2,815 reviews494 followers
December 28, 2016
3.5 stars. One of my favorite parts of being a book conisseur is that feeling when I'm reunited with an author from my reading past. Back in the early 2000's Tami Hoag crime thrillers were a refreshing break from the Canadian history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and women studies readings of my Arts degree. But eventually I was distracted by authors like Lisa Gardner and Iris Johansen and poor TH was abandoned. So, it was with great pleasure that I discovered the latest in the Kovac and Liska series on display at my local library.

The book market is flooded with "psychological thrillers" where the cops appear to be secondary characters nowadays. It was a nice break to spend some time with the sarcastic dialogue of two of my favorite Hoag characters and just watch them try to solve the cases. Although Kovac and Liska are working in two different departments, there still were scenes in which they interacted because ultimately as the book synopsis states their cases intertwine.

A good read with some pulse pounding action and a cast of suspicious characters.
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,351 reviews402 followers
August 9, 2019
I love the Kovac and Liska partnership, and while they start out with minimal contact as Liska has moved to Cold Cases to spend more time with her boys, they still have time together. I am still waiting for the judge from Prior Bad Acts to come back to Kovac. Yes, he's a stereotypical gruff, cigarette smoking detective with a heart of gold, but that's why we love him. Think Law & Order's Lenny Briscoe but sexier. And Liska is a dynamo.

However, I just could not stomach this one. Tami Hoag has stretched the boundaries of grossness in the past, The 9th Girlwas not for the faint of heart, but this was just too gross and graphic for me.

The murderer's reasons and methods of dispatching his victims was literally stomach turning. I just could not handle it the details of the crime scenes.

Two stars just for Liska and Kovac, but negative stars for the details
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,468 reviews347 followers
February 25, 2016
A special thank you to Penguin/Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Tami Hoag returns following Cold Cold Heart (2015) with THE BITTER SEASON (Kovac & Liska #5) –A clever, twisted chilling haunting suspense of family secrets, lies, and revenge.

Two separate twisted cases. A cold case. A murder from the past. A murder from the present. And a life that was never meant to be. Both cases will collide, in this heart-pounding psycho-crime mystery thriller, leaving your page-turning into the wee hours of the morning.

As the book opens it is winter in Minneapolis, MN twenty-five years earlier. A sex crimes cop Ted Duffy is chopping wood. Purgatory had become his life. Little did he know, this would be his last night on earth. Could death be worse?

Flash forward to present day. The twenty-fifth anniversary of Ted Duffy case. The murder of one of the city’s finest (which no one liked). The news may shake something loose. An unsolved murder.

From the last book in the series, The 9th Girl, Liska has a wake up call and decides to take a step back from the long hours of homicide, to spend more time being a mother of her two sons. With her crazy ex-husband, which is like another terrible teen—someone has to the responsible adult.

Nikki finds she is missing the adrenaline rush of the hunt; and now she is in Cold Cases. She takes no crap from any man (love her). She learned a long time ago to take any advantage she could get in this profession still dominated by men. She is working with a new female Homicide lieutenant, Joan Mascherino- a good thing. However, she has to deal with male bully, Grider--- a manipulator, prick and royal pain in her ass--who happened to be on the case twenty-five years ago, friend, and never solved. She is sure to remind him of this often. He explodes, when Nikki is chosen to head up the case.

Liska had her own agenda. She had leveraged her role in closing the Doc Holiday cases to get assigned to this unit. In homicide she may be on for twenty-four hours or more straight. In Cold case, there was no urgency. Regular hours, giving her more time with her boys. She had spent the better part of a decade in Homicide. But RJ and Kyle (14 and 16) were growing into young men and she needed to be there for them. No matter how much she loved her job, she loved the boys a million times more. The challenges would be different, but she would still be fighting for a victim.

Sam Kovac, misses Liska (Tinks)– Tiny but fierce. However, now he is saddled with all these new young punks with his latest partner, Taylor. Young “Magic Mike” Channing Tatum. (lots of fun here)…Sam did not want a new partner. He was too old and cranky to break into a new one. He and Liska had been partners for so long, they were comfortable together; their styles meshed, and they had learned to tolerate each other’s annoying habits. Like an old married couple that had never had bad sex. Instead he has a kid, a good-looking one in great shape-at that—making him feel even older.

Kovac: “How can you even break a sweat in Cold Case. Your vics have all been dead for years.”
Liska: “Like my love life.
Kovac: “Maybe that’ll pick up now that you don’t have to worry about going on a date smelling like a fresh corpse.”

She always nagged him like a wife; more annoying than a kid sister. However, he could not blame her for transferring to take care of her boys as a single mom—He still misses her.

Kovac has a new murder case. A husband and wife have been murdered in their own home. A crazy daughter Diana, and a conservative son Charlie. The professor is not liked by many, including colleagues and his own family. There is motive; however, nothing to nail the case. The double homicide of a U of M professor and his wife in their own home would bring out the brass and local political muscles to push for an full investigation and closure as soon as possible.

While her old partner is working the scene of a double murder, killed by a sword-wielding maniac;
Liska has her cold case to dig through. Liska thought of all the excitement she was missing and thinks of her own case, yesterday’s news. She could use this media attention.

Her only clues: a wife, which married her dead husband’s brother, a daughter (which was only nine years old when her dad was murdered), and two foster teen girls which had been kicked out after the cop’s murder. Someone is hiding something. A crazy neighbor and a son.

At first all dead ends. Nikki is persistent. She will not be happy until she tracks down the killer. The family acts as though they do not care if the killer is found. No one wants to relive the murder all over again.

One of the girls who has moved away, now working as a social worker with at risk teens. Evi Burke, the young woman, wife and mother, married to a fireman. How does she fit into the picture? Nikki has to dig into her past. The teen who lived with the Duffy’s at the time of the murder.

In her wildest dreams, she would never have guessed, her cold case might be the key to Kovac’s murder case. A brutal killer is on the loose. He will stop at nothing including decapitation, and brutal killings in his madness for revenge. Explosive!

Having read all the books in the Kovac & Liska series, (love them), my favorite partners in crime duo---was curious as to how the long time partners would fit in this installment. These two will keep you in stitches laughing with Hoag’s witty bad ass one liners.

Never fear —the duo may not be partners; however, they get some joint action when two cases become connected…. we still get our fix.

This is one of those book, you cannot put down. Lots of twists, turns, and surprises; a serious whodunit ingenious mystery. A big surprise ending. Horror fans will get plenty of blood, body parts, decapitation, gore, and violence…not for the weak of heart.

Dark, intense, and chilling ---A complex psycho-thriller you cannot miss. Please, do NOT let Kovac & Liska end—from your own Palm Beach County fan.

JDCMustReadBooks
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,101 reviews1,250 followers
February 29, 2016
Before I begin my review, I must make a confession. The Bitter Season is the first book that I have read from Tami Hoag and I am shaking my head as to why I haven't read her books before because Ms. Hoag has completely spellbind and bewitched me with The Bitter Season.

The Bitter Season was riveting, enthralling, suspenseful and fast paced. Ms. Hoag delivers a story that is bold and edgy that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. With her lyrical and gorgeous prose, Ms. Hoag consumes readers with a suspenseful tale that take readers on a journey of crime investigations. In this brilliantly riveting novel, Ms. Hoag weaves a complex tangled web of murder, crime, and investigation into a sophisticated and smart thriller suspense. If you are a fan of crime and detective investigation, then I highly recommend readers to check out this book as Ms. Hoag presents two crime cases that are related to one another.


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Profile Image for Denise.
756 reviews70 followers
June 28, 2016
The Bitter Season is a novel filled with suspense from beginning to end. The reader will be hooked from the first chapter! Tami Hoag has written a novel with a complex plot, very complex characters and intense intrigue. The cold case and a vicious double homicide all come to a " complete circle".
Profile Image for Robin.
1,670 reviews59 followers
December 16, 2017
Detective Nikki Liska has moved to the cold-case division in hopes she'll have more time at home with her boys. Her first case is a 25-year-old homicide of a cop. He was killed in his yard while chopping wood. Many detectives have tried to solve this crime, but they keep running into a dead end. Detective Sam Kovac is breaking in a new partner when they are assigned a double-murder. A university professor and his wife were killed with a Japanese ceremonial sword. The professor was in line for a new job. His competition was stiff. Would one of them kill the competition?

We get two mysteries in one story this time around. Both mysteries were compelling, though I really had to strain my brain to keep all of the suspects straight. Even though I liked Kovac's new partner, I wanted Kovac and Liska to work these cases together. My rating: 4 Stars.
Profile Image for Marjorie.
538 reviews54 followers
December 13, 2015
There was a time when I would grab every book written by Tami Hoag as soon as it was released (once she started writing thrillers instead of romance novels). While her suspense books always contained quite graphic violence, I found her storylines to be riveting. But at some point, it began to seem that the violence was taking over with less and less compelling stories so I started skipping some of her books. This one sounded interesting and I’m very glad that I gave her work another try.

There are two cases being investigated in this book. The first is the savage present day murder of a professor and his wife by a Japanese samurai sword being handled by Det. Sam Kovac. The second is a cold case involving the murder of a decorated sex crimes detective that Det. Nikki Liska has reluctantly been assigned as she has little hope of solving it. I found both cases to be fascinating and I flew through the book. The mysteries were suspenseful and well plotted. Be prepared for some very grisly scenes.

As mentioned, Kovac and Liska aren’t working together on the same case in this book. Kovac has a new partner who he’s training and who is making him feel his age. Liska takes on cold cases in the hopes of spending more time with her teenage boys. The author does an excellent job of developing these two characters and their friendship.

There’s also Evi Burke, a very likeable woman who has found happiness after a very hard youth. But her perfect life is soon to be threatened by secrets of her past. There was no way I couldn’t care for this character and literally sat on the edge of my seat as evil headed her way.

This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bruce Hatton.
452 reviews59 followers
October 18, 2019
This is the fifth novel in a series of which, I believe, I read the first two many years ago, featuring Minneapolis police detectives, Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac. They are not in partnership here, as Nikki has transferred to the Cold Case Unit where she is assigned to investigate the murder of a Sex Crimes detective 25 years previously. Understandably, the murder of a police officer has already been investigated several times before, but without any results.
Meanwhile, Sam and his new partner, Michael Taylor are trying to discover who killed an Eastern History professor and his wife with a samurai sword. As both investigations proceed it is realised that the two completely different crimes could be linked.
Overall, this is a well-constructed novel which builds to a thrilling and unexpected conclusion. It also touches upon social issues such as the inadequacy of the child fostering system and the dire plight of many service veterans.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,676 reviews918 followers
February 8, 2016
I just realized that I have been reading Tami Hoag's Kovac/Liska series since I was around 14 or so. I found Dust to Dust in my mom's bedroom one day and promptly snuck it away once I read the back of the book jacket. I didn't realize it was second in the series (and I hate reading stories out of order, more on that in my next review) and so when I finished it I remember being bent out of sorts because there were references to something else that happened and I realized then this had to be the second or third book. After some snooping in my parents bedroom I found Ashes to Ashes. Then I promptly read that and Dust to Dust afterwards. Even though the series follows partners Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska I thought the series always seemed to focus on Sam more. I didn't mind this, because though I love Liksa's character, she always drove me a bit crazy when it came to her interactions with her ex and her sons. There was too much of that for me going on in this one. The strongest parts were the sections that focused on Sam and his new partner. I was disappointed in the rush ending and the lack of them towards the end when it became the Nikki show. So still a five star read, just not a five star favorite read for me.

This is the fifth Kovac/Liska novel written by Tami Hoag. If you have not read the prior books please note that there will be spoilers regarding the earlier books in this series. I finished Cold Cold Heart last year and remember being disappointed by the lack of Sam and Nikki in that one. They had a couple of token appearances and all it did was make me wish for another book starring them. I was happily granted my wish this year.

For long time readers, we know that Kovac and Liska have been partners for what it seems like forever. Sam is eternally alone with some romantic entanglements here and there (can we get him a stable girlfriend?) with Liska constantly sparring with her ex Speed. Though they are not that great in their personal relationships, they are both excellent detectives. What is funny is that I really didn't care for either character that much in Ashes to Ashes. Kovac was really set up as a thorn in the side of John Quinn who was really the star of that book for me, as was Kate Quinn. We got a glimpse of the two detectives at work, but I am not going to lie, they were really both jerky off and on. That all changed in Dust to Dust which really was 100 percent focused on Kovac and Liska. You get to get inside their brains and see what made them both work and why they were both insanely good at their jobs. Followed up by Prior Bad Acts (I loved this one) and the 9th Girl (oh man so so good) I was really happy with where the series was going. Though we as readers could keep seeing Liska's growing discontent with the hours of working homicide since she wanted to be there for her two pre-teen and now teenage sons. The Bitter Season picks up really after the events of Cold Cold Heart with Liska now working cold cases and Kovac working with his now third new partner. I don't know how much time has elapsed between books, but it seems like it has been a while.

Though Liska is a solid and great cop, she is stuck having to re-open a cold case she doesn't think is remotely solvable and having a misogynistic retired detective in her face while she tries to figure out who murdered a star sex crimes detective 25 years earlier than the start of the book.

Kovac is training to train his newest partner and finding him lacking in every way to Liska. He misses her though he understands why she transferred. A double murder of a rich white couple has Kovac and Taylor (the new partner) investigating whether this double murder was a home invasion gone wrong or something worse.

So for me Kovac is my favorite out of this paring. The ongoing feud with his neighbor about his Christmas decorations, his sadness at his lack of a love life and his un-ending crush on Kate Quinn make me love him. Add in his smart mouth and his brains and you got yourself a great detective. We don't get a lot of Kovac in this one though except when he is working the case and dealing with his new partner. I hope that Taylor sticks around in the next one, he and Kovac together after a while do start to mesh together and I loved the older mentor teaching the young guy the ropes trope that was going on in this one.

Liska felt like same stuff, different day. She is still not happy with her ex and even though she knows it upsets her one son she and he still fight with each other. Frankly not a lot of it made a lot of sense to me. Liska already knows the guy is a disappointment, I don't get why she still thinks fighting is the way to go. Finding out that she realizes that working cold cases are not giving her the same sense of satisfaction as homicide was interesting though. As a reader I wonder what is Liska going to choose. She starts to realize that both of her kids are going to be out of the house soon, so does it make sense to give up what she wants in order to make their last few years at home as "normal" as she can? I did like the question of what does it mean to have it all as a single working mother. However, I felt like too much was going on for Hoag to really focus on this issue that much.

We get old familiars in the homicide unit (not enough of them though) and some new characters as well. I have to say that Kovac's partner Taylor was great. I hope we get to see him involved in future stories.

The writing was great and I thought that up until the end the flow was perfect. We tended to go back and forth to Liska and Kovac though I think this book focused more on Liska. I wish it had been a bit more even for me. And honestly, the Liska stuff felt very boring after a while. We had her dealing with a lot of road blocks and just reading about them made me tired. Kovac's case was much more interesting and had the battiest characters ever.

The setting of Minneapolis in the winter is always bleak and Hoag plays that up to perfect effect in this one.

Like I already said, the ending was a lot rushed. We had a lot of loose ends to tie up and I wish that we had spent more time on that. It didn't feel like a real ending when we got to it, it felt like the chapter that happens before you get to the epilogue. There are a lot of unanswered questions about where do Kovac and Liska go from here. Looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for Book Madness (Elif Tazegül).
269 reviews45 followers
June 16, 2019
Tami Hoag okumayı cidden özlemişim. Başrollerde yine Kovac ve Liska. Ama bu sefer kahramanlarımızın yolları ayrılmış. Detektif Liska daha sakin ve düzenli saatleri olan amerikalıların cold case dediği eski davalar bölümüne geçmiş. Kovac kendi çifte cinayet davasını yürütürken Liska da 25 yıl önce işlenmiş bir polis cinayetini araştırır. Polisiye olarak çok tatmin edici bir olay örgüsü vardı. Bunu çok özlemişim. Tami gerçekten iyi yazıyor.
Yorumun buradan sonrası spoiler içeriyor ‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️
Herkes kendi davasına bakarken olanlar oluyor ve bir şekilde iki dava kesişiyor. Hızlı düşünen ve davranan Liska olaya yetişiyor. Sonunda da rol alıyor.
Bence konu çok sıradan olmasına karşın yazar olay örgüsünü zenginleştirip farklı sunmuş.
Benim beğendiğim bir kitap oldu. Polisiye severlerin severek okuyacağından da eminim 😊
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kara Hansen.
238 reviews11 followers
May 9, 2018
This was the fifth book in the Kovac/Liska series. I went into this book under the assumption it was the last of this series, but by the time I finished I was not so sure. Have loved all of these books, and this one did not disappoint.
Detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska, former partners, are now working in separate departments for the police force. Nikki has moved over to Cold Case files in order to have more sanity and order in her life, while Kovac has acquired a new partner, Michael Taylor.
The plot of this book has the usual twists and turns that Hoag is known for, and the cases that Kovac and Liska are each investigating have links to each other.
A good and fast paced book, but I definitely feel there will be a number six.
Profile Image for RoseMary Achey.
1,323 reviews
January 20, 2016
You are going to wish you are snowed in when you pick up this novel...you won't want to leave it to go to work, the grocery or to run errands. A cold case from 25 years ago is reopened and at the same time a gruesome double homicide takes place....are thinking what I am thinking? Rarely does an author present material in this fashion unless the two cases are somehow related.

This was an satisfying book that I truly enjoyed.
Profile Image for Marleen.
1,721 reviews95 followers
December 30, 2018
My second time around reading and listening to this book - and the simplest explanation is that I immensely enjoy the very specific banter between detectives Liska, Kovac, Tippen and Knutson - and now the younger, handsome and more serious Taylor has joined them, while Liska has moved to the cold case unit (the broom closet, as they so lovingly refer to it). Young, handsome det. Taylor holds promise as a dedicated and smart investigator, and Kovac is starting to realize it.
From her side, Liska misses her old pals, but she gave it up for more steady hours to be able to be home with her teenage sons.
The 25 year old murder that Liska is working in the cold case unit will ultimately mesh with the brutal double homicide Kovac & team is investigating - and even for a second time around, I'm still enjoying this book and still surprised at how it ends. I hope to read another upcoming Liska & Kovac, but there's not even a whiff of a new book announced out for the moment, and I regret that deeply.
Profile Image for Jennifer McLean.
257 reviews15 followers
December 12, 2015
"The Bitter Season" By Tami Hoag comes out January 12, 2016. This is a complex, mesmerizing psychological thriller that continues Hoag's Kovac/Liska series.

I am not going to do what I usually do when I review a book. I'm not going to outline what this one is about. The plot is just too complicated (in a good way) and if I try, I might inadvertently give away a detail that will lesson your enjoyment of this spectacular read. I'll spell out the very basics. Detective Nikki Liska has a twenty-five year old murder case she's working on and her former partner Sam Kovac is saddled with a brutal double homicide of a professor and his wife. The reader goes back and forth between these cases until the detectives realize the two cases seem to be connected. How that's possible makes for a hugely satisfying mystery. This was one of the most intense books I've read this year.

I read mostly mysteries and I'm used to having a good idea about who done it by the end of a book. Even if the writer is good enough to fool me until the end, I almost always have the plot twists and scenarios worked out, if not the actual murderer. This time though I had no idea at all who done it or why or even what was connecting the old and new murders. It was GREAT to be so in the dark! I spent hours (when not reading the book) trying desperately to figure out how, why, who and what. I loved the challenge and instead of that challenge being frustrating, it was exhilarating. I recommend this book wholeheartedly and would give it more than five stars if the rating system would let me. Don't miss this one, you'd be missing a gem of a mystery.
Profile Image for Patti Barber.
245 reviews3 followers
March 10, 2016
I turn to mystery books like the ones Tami Hoag writes when I want to slip into another world for a day or two. Normally I only take two days to read such a book. The Bitter Season took me almost two weeks to finish. I can't tell you why. Is the writing style different? Is this story not as captivating as her prior stories? I can not tell you .... all I can say is that I did not enjoy this particular book.
Profile Image for Lorrie.
722 reviews
December 7, 2016
So enjoy Nicki Liska stories. This one being no exception. First one I've read where she has transferred out of violent crime to solve cold cases so she can be at home with her sons. This aspect detracted a little from the usual excitement of her story although it was a little interwoven with one of Kovac's crime stories. That helped to save it.
Profile Image for Amy.
398 reviews18 followers
December 26, 2017
Fast read.

So let me start by saying that I have enjoyed Tami Hoag and she has never let me down. This novel too was perfect. I will have to warn the readers that it has some graphic gory scenes which could have been toned down but other than that all of the book, the characters,the plot,the pace , everything is a perfect harmony.

The premise:

A murder from the past. A murder from the present. And a life that was never meant to be... 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 having an even harder time adjusting to Nikki's absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than pieces of Sam's wardrobe. Sam is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword. 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.

On the other end of the spectrum, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job. Little does she know that a danger from her past is stalking her perfect present. A danger powerful enough to pull in both Kovac and Liska and destroy the perfect life she was never meant to have.


The characters are already having plenty of backstory and relationships as they are a part of series, they work out well like a cast of characters that have been put together and have a familiarity of a family.Kovac and Liska are not working together in this case, Liska has transferred to cold cases. I don't know why but Liska is not my favourite,she should be but she's not. Kovac is my favourite.Hes like that old hound, wise and dependable. Liskas interaction with Speed, her ex is very realistic and annoying. She should stop repeating the cycle in that relationship,which again is dead.I loved Taylor. He is the newbie who's being trained by Kovac and who has beauty and brains. Enjoyed this one.The only complaint I have is that the ending is abrupt.No calm sense of having reached the end.
Fast read!
275 reviews
February 2, 2021
I love reading a book that keeps me captivated and surprises me as it ends. This book does both. I highly recommend it to fans of suspense, fabulous character development and a satisfying read.
Profile Image for Colleen Thompson.
Author 78 books146 followers
February 3, 2018
Outstanding mystery with Liska working in her new role on a cold case that no one seems to want solved and Kovac working on the brutal murder of a university professor of Far Eastern studies and his wife--with samurai weapons. I couldn't figure out for the life of my how it would all come together in the end. Well done!
Profile Image for Michelle .
346 reviews22 followers
January 23, 2016
"He was dog tired. Not for the first time-or the hundred and first time-he thought. I'm getting too old for this. In the next thought, he wondered what Liska was doing. He wondered how bored she was. He thought of cold case squads as the place old Homicide dicks went when they couldn't keep up anymore. Then he remembered with no small amount of depression that he was an old Homicide dick. ..."

The Bitter Season returns as the fifth book in the Detectives Kovac and Liska series. Its November, 25 years ago in cold Minnesota for sex crimes detective Ted Duffy. Burned out on the everyday horror, dragged down by those closest to him who can't understand him. He becomes a homicide case.
Move to present day. Nikki Liska is on a new job for a cold case unit. Giving her regular hours to spend with her kids, making this a good fit for her. Against her judgment of which cases are solvable, the Duffy murder becomes her next case.
Meanwhile, her ex partner Sam Kovac is running through new partners and missing Liska. Working the homicide unit with the current "trainee' Michael Taylor. They have their own serious things to deal with when Professor Chamberlain and his wife are brutally murdered in their home.
On the other side of town a young woman by the name of Evi is living a good life. So much better than the one she started out with. Coming from a foster home and turning her life into something so much better. Something or someone from the past is about to reach out and try to take it all away from her. Memories for everyone involved in these crimes come back to haunt them. Some things you never forget.
Who killed Ted Duffy? After all this time is there really anything to go on? What about Professor Chamberlain and his wife? Who would want them dead? Gruesome and scary. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is the answer to an old situation or even a new one. The answers you think you know will surprise you.
From there the story is tied to together in some surprising turns. In classic Tami Hoag writing, an exciting fast paced story. I'm never let down by her work. If you like crime and detective series this is definitely an author you'd want to read. If you already read her you'll know what I'm talking about and you'll want to read this book for sure.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Books Dutton
http://michellebookends.blogspot.com/...
2,791 reviews48 followers
February 6, 2017
I have been looking forward to reading The Bitter Season for a while and it really didn't disappoint me.

Nikki "Tinks" Liska has left active homicide investigation to work in the newly established, experimental cold case unit. She thinks it will be a more 9-5 job, giving her time to spend with her son's in the crucial teenage years. Sam Kovac is left to break in a new partner, Michael Taylor, unwillingly of course because he wants Liska back. The novel opens with them both getting difficult cases. Liska is strong armed into investigating the case of murdered detective, Ted Duffy but the case is 25 years old with no witnesses or forensics and she thinks there are easier, more solvable cases to inaugurate the unit with. In the meantime Kovac is called out to the murder of Professor Lucien Chamberlain and his wife, brutally killed by items from the professor's own collection of Japanese weaponry.

I love Kovac and Liska novels and The Bitter Season is no exception. The plot has many twists, one or two are obvious but mostly they come as a complete surprise, so it makes for compulsive reading and I was glued to the pages. The main attraction for me, however, is the character of Nikki Liska. She has a combative, take no prisoners approach to both investigating and inter-personal relationships. She rarely backs down and wins most of her verbal jousts with a searing humour and logic. Her banter is not for the faint hearted but it is really funny and I can't help cheering every time she lets rip. She is refreshingly original and natural, not just a suit with a gun. Almost incidentally she is also a good detective and a terrier who won't let go when she gets her teeth into an investigation.

The Bitter Season is an excellent read, raw, twisty and human so I have no hesitation in recommending it.
Profile Image for Nancy.
Author 7 books14 followers
November 19, 2015
A Tangled Web of Murder Confronts Liska and Kovac

Detective Nikki Liska misses her partner Kovac. With her sons growing up, she feels the need to be at home more so she transferred to the cold case unit. Here she catches a case she doesn't want. Thomas Duffy, a decorated sex crimes detective, was killed 25 years ago. In spite of the best efforts of the police, his case remains unsolved, and Nikki fears it may stay that way.

Kovac has a new partner. Taylor is green and Kovac resents the time it takes to bring him up to speed. They catch a case Nikki would love to have. A professor and his wife were hacked to death by a killer wielding a Japaneese samurai sword.

A third complication in this novel is Evie Burke. She has the perfect life, but she's hiding an old secret, and it may be catching up with her.

This was my first experience with Liska and Kovac. Although not working together, their paths continue to cross. Nikki's tough and Kovac is a typical old school detective. They work well together.

The complex plot follows the three threads weaving back and forth until pulling them together at the end. I thought the author did a masterful job keeping me interested in all three plot lines. The twist at the end came as a surprise, but the author had cleverly left clues, so I wasn't shocked by the ending.

I highly recommend this book if you're a fan of detective stories where the detectives interview suspects and look for clues to solve crimes.


I received this book from Penguin-Random House for a review.
Profile Image for Kat valentine ( Katsbookcornerreads).
583 reviews764 followers
February 27, 2016
what a hell of a ride!!!! this new book by tami hoag was full of more twists and turns then a backwoods road!!!! in this new book she has two of the most awesome characters she ever created. we have detectives nikki liska(tink) and sam kovac, even though these two arent partners anymore . nikki's with the new cold case unit and kovac has a new partner taylor who is a promising young fledgling detective, these two old partners are still thick as thieves and they about to find out that the case nikki's working on about the murder of a highly decorated sex crimes detective who was shot to death over 25 years ago and the case that kovac and taylor are working on the murder of a college professor and his wife found hacked to death are bond together by what happened in the past. great must read!! tami hoag's books are all awesome and this is no exception.
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