No nods to mention, or rather, it could be a few, but either way, the story for the third installment, With a Bullet, is still great. The story being one in which a previous case returns with something like a grudge, but only 10 times worse and 100 times less patient. Cole Farraday, public creep #1, came to the end of his stay at a taxpayer funded barred and gated hotel, and as they would have it, the law was on his side to be checked out. Seems he didn’t quite finish his business with the FBI’s Team Templar and decided that he’d let them know just how much he appreciated the extended stay accommodations.
There’s a lot to absorb in this book. Chandler does very well in transitioning from the past to the present and from point of view to point of view. I spent the first book falling in love with Jeremy and Nate. I spent the second book holding my breath, cringing, and confirming my speculations on how Jeremy and Simon’s relationship worked. And now, in the third book, among other things, I spent a lot of time being pissed off with Mike and realizing that I never cared for him too much; I spent time learning that Johnny is the calm and the storm and that I liked him a heck of a lot more than Mike; and I also spent some more time feeling something for Sandra and her somewhat confirmed suspicions and respecting her for the actions she took with those things weighing on her mind. Having to tangle with the past opened some still-healing wounds–literally and figuratively–but also brought some things closure or close to it.
I was going a little stir crazy and was dangerously close to calling it a waste. The first 100 pages were sorely lacking in Jeremy; he was present for a bit, mind you, but not nearly to this fangirl’s satisfaction. And then, as if Chandler knew I’d be feenin’ for him by this time, on page 99, Hello Love! Jeremy. And it was certainly worth the wait; I was cracking up inside of the first couple lines. I suppose that makes it seem like he’s some sort of comic relief, but he isn’t. He definitely brings levity to some harrowing moments, but he’s equally as guilty of being, at minimum, the catalyst for some of those harrowing moments–in that quiet Jeremy way.
Speaking of Jeremy’s way, he has taken quite a bit of abuse from Simon–physically and emotionally–but he doesn’t just take it. It sounds bad and it is, but not in the same way as would be commonly perceived. It’s not because he’s a guy either. Jeremy really gets it. He gets Simon and he’s making a well-informed, well-thought out decision to remain by his side. It’s scary, honestly. And I don’t want to feel that anymore and I’d be even more scared if Jeremy was just his refined self about it all the time, but as I said, he doesn’t just take it. He always manages to say what needs to be said despite the distance between himself and danger that closes in more with each word spoken. And twice he said it in such away that, even in the face of Simon’s Great Wall of Denial, his point was made. He takes his relationship with Simon very seriously and I was sad that he had to defend it to Simon, but I was so, so, happy that he did. Simon really does not deserve him, even when I take Simon’s conflict into account, he is a far cry from worthy, but Jeremy wants him, so I want him to have him.
It’s funny to watch Simon drop his guard. Simon drinking out of Jeremy’s coffee mug, in front of everyone. I had to read that a few times to make sure I read it right. What I would give to hear what was going on inside of Jeremy’s head at that moment. Or all present company’s, for that matter. And then Johnny just kind of rolled with it, which was sort of like Jeremy was being accepted just that much more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny suspected something a little more than friendship was going on. Despite what he said to Nate and Farraday, I remain in waiting. I really need the words. I need Simon to say something to Jeremy without “or something” or as Mike likes to say, “or some shit” which to a certain degree negates the sincerity of sentiment. It won’t change my mind about Simon being unworthy, but it will make me feel better about leaving Jeremy in the hands of a bona fide jerk.
Nate… I cried.
So, chapter 70 rolls around and I’m feeling it. Simon’s being too congenial and Jeremy’s hopeful–this can’t be good. I read the last few paragraphs of that chapter slower than my patience was used to and my heart sank with each line because I knew that it was about to hit again. I continued on to 71 and by the second page, tears were streaming. I got that things would get better, I mean, there’s another book, but a few chapters ago, I was still lamenting on how little Jeremy there was in the book so far, so to finally get something close to a satisfying amount and then know that it was all leading to him enduring something that I don’t want him to… it hurt. In flashes, my mind was running through scenarios, but I stopped myself and took a breath. Then, a couple of chapters later, when Simon admitted to Nate… I knew it was really going to hurt, everything, until it was over, was going to hurt.
Back to Mike, his trip with Johnny to Fredericksburg really set me off. I was trying to think of a good metaphor or simile to insult Mike, but everything I thought, every comparison or label, just wasn’t quite right and matching them up with Mike seemed rather offensive to those things and that’s when I realized, Mike is an insult.
I hadn’t really settled on my opinion of Mike in the first two books. But before I got my second dose of Jeremy, I had solidly formed the opinion stated above. As a living, breathing person, I could not take being around him for too long or I’d certainly lose it. As a character, though, he’s pretty awesome, and by awesome I mean annoyingly real. Everything he says and does, even the fact that he cooks is unsurprising when I consider that it’s Mike doing it. He makes my skin itch and I don’t know what else he’s good at other than driving and I sigh a little every time he’s the focus, but all that really tells me is that Chandler’s a good writer and that she doesn’t betray her characters. And that leaves little room for argument. Well, barring one… I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone could fall for him or even pretend to.
Onto other things that annoy me, but can be really good for storytelling, if they’re done right… I despise pranks on the uninitiated and to heck with the reasoning that if they can’t take that, they’d never survive the long haul. First, if you have a problem with them being there, take your frustration out on the right person. If they accepted what was offered to them, take it out on the one who made the offer. If you don’t have the balls for that, then anything else you do is cowardly and immature. Second, you don’t know what triggers a person you’ve just met. Imagine if it was a guy like Rich. They’d likely find empty bank accounts, repossessed property, and the like when they woke up the next morning. Or worse; I’m sure he could have done much worse. That kind of thing never made sense to me from any angle. Although, Sandra pulled the words right out of my mouth; I expect it from Mike, when Nate does it, it’s cute, and it doesn’t suit Johnny, but I can’t really say why. I was glad to see that Sandra put a stop to it, but way to be unprofessional and careless. If they were taken by someone in their midst, then how can they be so lax about a stranger. The bullying and shunning create perfect opportunities for ill-intentioned folks to do dirt. They really should be smarter about that. However, turnabout is fair play, and I was quite satisfied with that conclusion.
On the subject of conclusions, I felt slighted. All pages read, there just wasn’t enough Jeremy. While I did enjoy getting to know the team better, more Jeremy is more Jeremy and is, by definition, better than anything else, save for Johnny trailing kisses down Nate’s scars, but that’s something else entirely. Since each book is one case, I don’t believe I’m going to get the fill in the blank regarding Simon and Jeremy’s time before Jeremy went back home. Though I wonder if he really did. At any rate, the ending was a mix of loose ends, new beginnings and confirmed developments that I wish weren’t. I did enjoy it and was on the edge of my seat and except for the fact that I found it odd that Sandra keeps her phone and her gun in her purse or carries a purse at all, I’ve got nothing much to complain about. This book was a bit exhausting with all the tension so I’m going to read something else or two before I jump headlong into book 4. See you then!