Friday, February 11, 2011

The Killing Room by Gerri Hill

Book: The Killing Room
Author: Gerri Hill
Publisher: Bella Books

First up, two quick points before I dive into the review:

(1) I know this is the second book in a row by Gerri Hill, but it was next up on my e-reader. Get used to seeing a string of posts for the same author because as a kid, I developed a habit of scarfing up everything written by any writer I liked all at once. This is the sort of behavior that develops when your town library has mostly trashy dime store romances and Zane Grey paperbacks; and (b) In my previous post, "The Target by Gerri Hill", I made a slightly snarky comment about a "retired cop with a bad hip" riding in to save the day and disappearing with her trusty dog almost immediately. Well, I got my books out of order - I should have read The Target after The Killing Room - seems said gimpy cop is the tough and chewy butch with a gun in today's book.

Oopsie . . .

Now! On the the review.

[drumroll, please]

The Killing Room is a story about a generally well adjusted Denver cop who is recovering from a nasty gunshot wound to the leg. She and her trusty steed, er, dog, retire to her cabin in the mountains to do a little mental and physical healing. Surprise! While relaxing, naked of course, in a secluded hot spring near her property, she and her "perfect breasts" are discovered by Nicole [and "the nicest ass"], a lost and burned-out semi-closeted therapist who just happens to be hiking solo in the mountains as self-therapy. Sparks fly, the girls hook up, and after a day and night of torrid passion, go their separate ways. Well, at least until a deranged serial killer starts raping, strangling, and dumping several of Nicole's patients. Of course, the super cop assigned is [wait for it] Jake McCoy, our gimpy detective. Will they or won't they stop the killer in time? Can Nicole break away from her designer suits and Manolo Blahnik pumps and be happy with pizza and beer? Does a techno-geek have the stones to fire a handgun?

Should Jake keep feeding her dog people food? 

Okay. Here's the thing - I really liked this book. Overall, it's a well-rounded mystery, that keeps you guessing right up until the Big Bad is revealed. There was a nice smattering of humor and passion, main and secondary character development, and nothing that forced the reader take a running leap onto the "ol' literary license express".

. . . and the characters actually consumed more than bad coffee.

Another thing I liked about the book was that neither of the main characters tragically lost her respective parents in a flaming car accident as a child - that plot device should be doused in lighter fluid and driven off the closest cliff at high speed!  I mean, come on!  I'm a 44-year old woman, and I don't know a single person who lost their parents [and usually all other siblings and sometimes the family dog, cat, alpaca, etc.] like this!!  Why does it seem to happen to the majority of lesbians in literature?

Just making a little point here.

I digress . . . Nicole has seemingly normal parents, and Jake's parents drive around in an RV and leave her alone.  That, I can relate with . . .

Gerri Hill also tossed away another over-baked plot device in this book [thank you, very much].  I liked the little character twist that Jake [and we never do learn her given name] generally keeps to herself and likes solitude, but she's liked by most of her coworkers, is tight with her partner, and talks to her dog.  On the other hand, Nicole hates her friends, doesn't like her job, and pretends to fit in so well that she's a miserable, hot mess.

Now THAT is refreshing - why do the tough & chewies always have to be so screwed up?

So, with the good, always comes a little bad - If there's anything I didn't really like about the book, it's that when we find out who the "Big Bad" is, I just have a really hard time believing that he could be so outwardly "normal" for so many years, do so many horrible things then and now, and only start to get a little squirrely in his day-to-day actions toward the end.  

Of course, not being a serial killer . . . I'm just sayin' is all.

And there you have it, The Killing Room is a great read that gets pretty intense, makes sense, ties up the loose ends . . . and nothing bad happens to the dog!

On the Rainbow Scale, I'd give it a 5.3 out of 6.


  1. You may need to rethink... I know this to be a fact and want to share a very sad News item with you;
    FIVE PEOPLE, including two children and a baby, when a car crashed into a ditch, turned over and caught fire. UK Somerset Fire Brigade confirmed that two adults, two children and an infant were dead. A spokeswoman for the brigade said it appeared that all the dead were from one family. A dog, believed to be a collie, also died in the blaze.
    Shit does happen you don't need to look too far to find it (well in my case I didn't).
    But all that distracts from the fact that Gerri Hill does get a lot right, and as you said both characters do have "seemingly normal parents if a tad selfish perhaps".
    You also say: "I just have a really hard time believing that he could be so outwardly "normal" for so many years, do so many horrible things then and now, and only start to get a little squirrely in his day-to-day actions toward the end."
    I had no problem with that on two levels... One I took it that his son, the reason for him doing all those horrendous things in The Killing Room was about to be back on the scene. And that triggered his Father into picking up where he had left off. A conclusion I may have jumped to without realising how easily lead I can be.
    The greatest moments in the book for me was Jakes ability to flirt, in order to get what she wants I found that so appealing, made this book all the more enjoyable for me. All this said I agree with you the book was a great read I got into it and have to say I love any book that includes a log cabin and a dog and big open spaces. The hot springs hit a note or two… Opps I may have said too much!

  2. Hazey, thanks for stopping by TRR, always I'm happy to get input from readers. I do know that bad things happen to good people, seemingly every day. The point I was making was that very often, lesbian protagonists have horrible tragedies in their past that, and it seems rare that a good lesbian protagonist rarely comes from a well-adjusted background. I really appreciated that Gerri Hill gave her leads a healthy childhood. As for the Big Bad in this story, I know people crack in all ways and forms, but this was just a bit of a leap for me, as a reader. Sounds like it wasn't so much for all readers, and that's just fine, because all readers should have a voice.