#Review — Hacked Up - A Thriller by Ethan Stone — Available Now!
Title: Hacked Up
Author: Ethan Stone
Publisher: Stone Publishing
Publication Date: February 6, 2017
Page Count: 264 Pages
Seattle is being plagued by a string of gruesome murders. For Detective Peter Tao, it’s a career-making case, but he’s struggling to find a lead.
How is the killer choosing his victims?
What is he trying to prove?
With a long list of suspects and nothing to connect them, Peter is more determined than ever to apprehend the murderer.
Then Peter gets the one vital piece of evidence that ties everything together. Now he’ll have to look beyond the obvious to identify the killer before anyone else is murdered.
Solve the mystery in this fast-moving crime thriller by Ethan Stone.
After the third time knocking, I slid the card in the electronic lock. No green light. I slid it again, then again ‘til the lock disengaged and the door opened. I pulled my Glock, pushed the door open, and called out, “Hello, Seattle Homicide…”
Before I could continue, a wet towel wrapped around my hand, knocking my gun away and yanking me into the room. I blocked a punch but then my attacker kicked my feet out from under me. It was dark but judging by size and muscle mass my attacker was male. I spun around on my ass, knocking him to the floor. I leapt on top of him, pinning his hands to the floor and sitting on his groin. I still couldn’t get a decent glimpse of him, but he was definitely a man—and naked.
“Stop resisting. I’m a cop.”
He broke one hand free and connected a blow to my ribs, knocking the breath out of me. Using my weakness to his advantage, he thrust up, pushing me off of him. I rolled to the side, trying to ignore the pain, and managed to stand, but the other guy was quicker than me. He pinned me to the wall, pressing his body against mine. I wasn’t sure but it felt like he had a hard-on.
He gripped one hand over my head while my other one, the one I’d been clutching my ribs with, was trapped between me and the wall.
“Who sent you?” he demanded.
I got my arm free and shoved it backward, elbowing him in the solar plexus. He sucked in a breath but didn’t release me so I slammed my head backward, colliding into his forehead with an audible thwack, sending him stumbling backward, howling in pain. He clutched his head and appeared dazed. I glanced around, located my gun, and dove for it.
My attacker gained control of his senses and lunged at me, catching me around the waist and tugging me to the floor once more. He landed on top of me and tried to hold me still. Despite his sturdy grip, I twisted around and brought my gun up. He seized my hand and dug his thumb into my wrist, just below the palm, hitting a pressure point and forcing me to drop my weapon once more.
“Goddamn it!” I bellowed.
He reached for my gun, but I wrapped my fingers around his throat and held him still. He grabbed for my throat with both hands, and I managed to block one but not the other. With our hands on one another’s throats and my free hand gripping his, we were at a standstill.
“Who are you?” he demanded in a thick voice.
“I’m a cop, you stupid son of a bitch.”
“That doesn’t mean you’re not here to kill me. Someone already tried that once. I’m not taking any chances.”
The light from between the curtains allowed me to identify my sparring partner—Bryce Carrick.
“I’m not here to kill you, Carrick, I’m here to save your life. I’m Detective Peter Tao with Seattle Homicide.”
He lessened the grip on my neck and I did the same. Neither one of us completely released, however.
“I assume you can prove who you are?” he asked.
“Would the badge in my front pocket satisfy you?”
He nodded. “Let go of my hand so I can check.”
“Don’t try anything.” I released his hand and he scooted back so he could have access to my front pocket.
Glancing down, I confirmed his prick was indeed erect. Not that I could say anything, I was just as hard. Adrenaline had that effect on me, just as it did with many men.
He patted one pocket but the badge was in the other one. He didn’t lift his hand as he trailed across, instead, he let it run across the bulge in my pants. Carrick eyed me for a second before retrieving my shield.
Detective Peter Tao and his partner Jamey Nolan are called to a murder scene where they find the victim stabbed in the back and castrated. Before they can even put together any clues or evidence, there is another murder. They now have a serial killer on their hands with very few leads other than traces of red hair.
Through their information, they gather that the victims were all members of Ashley Madison, a cheating site where you can hook up with other married men and/or women. This information leads them down a path of red-herring suspects for the reader to figure out, as well as, Peter and a mismatched team of detectives—in a race against time—of who may or may not be the actual killer.
As Peter learns of these new possible suspects we also gain more information about him, as a person. The story is told primarily from his point-of-view and the reader gets a stronger understanding of his thoughts and beliefs. He is a gay cop who thinks only his partner knows about his sexuality, but it's not something he hides if asked up front.
It is something, however, he will never be able to tell his Korean parents and because of this, I got the feeling he may never be comfortable living openly with a partner. He feels indebted to his parents for moving to America, for him, but he craves companionship and fidelity.
He was cheated on—hurt badly—so his feelings towards the victims and the members using these sites are jaded. His investigation brings him to Bryce Carrick, an Ashley Madison member, a married man, and also a victim that got away by luck.
Bryce and Peter form a friendship, of sorts, where insta-lust plays a big role on Bryce's part. Peter, however, stands by his moral code to never get involved with a married man and he is firm in his decision. This also allows them to become better friends without sex getting in the way and... hopefully when the time is right—they will have a stronger foundation to build a relationship that will last.
Hacked Up is a thriller and crime procedural story that takes the reader from one clue to the next. The author was a bit repetitive in certain areas, especially with Peter's conviction to not sleep with Bryce, but it was nice to see him finally showing a softer side of himself as the story played out.
As the evidence mounts and the clues continue to add up, the author managed to stump me a few times and I was surprised at the end. I had guessed part of it but I did not see the full picture. If you are interested in reading a crime novel where clues and second-guessing play a big role, Hacked Up is a good fit.
* my thanks to the author who provided a copy in exchange for an honest review *
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about the author
Romance on the Edge
Ethan Stone doesn’t write your typical boy meets boy stories.
With a combination of love and suspense he makes his characters work hard for their HEAs. If they can survive what he puts them through, then they can survive anything. He enjoys Romance with an Edge.
Ethan has been reading mysteries and thrillers since he was young. He’s had a thing for guys in uniform for just as long. That may have influenced the stories he writes.
He’s a native Oregonian with two kids. One of whom has made him a grandfather three times over; even though he is way too young.
Readers can find Ethan online.