Agent Cooper Dayton cannot seem to catch a break. His life is constantly in turmoil with missions that makes him feel that he’s going insane. The last big sanity-taxing mission was resolved and along the way, he and his personal and work partner Oliver Park managed to solve several murders. That created some new headaches for Cooper plus revisit some old ones for Oliver, but they got through it. Now he has a new mission. He’s getting married to Oliver and all of the trappings of a big wedding have almost become too much for him. His family has come down from the Chesapeake Bay. They all know about Oliver’s secret and are embarrassingly curious about life with a werewolf. During a trip to the zoo with his family, Cooper has a curious encounter with another werewolf named Eli who happens to be an ex-boyfriend to Oliver. This surprise meeting is not only awkward but reports of blackmailing are uncovered, followed by murders that leave the victims in a somewhat ghastly state. To make things worse, a character report Cooper received during an undercover mission to North Carolina has come back to haunt him in ways he never imagined possible.
All of the books from the “Big Bad Wolf” series (this latest Cry Wolf is the 5th) by Charlie Adhara have done a magnificent job at giving us strong character development and growth with both Cooper and Oliver while tackling whatever mystery they have either been assigned to or stumbled across on. Despite being told from Cooper’s point of view, the books place their primary character focus on either Cooper or Oliver, with the other taking on a secondary focus. As with some of the previous books, Cooper is the main focus. He’s dealing with a lot, not just in terms of the wedding, but in the previous entry Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing he is coming to terms with the strength of his Alpha Quotient (something that Oliver’s grandmother told him about in Thrown to the Wolves), and now he finds himself the subject of a werewolf prophecy. It is here that Adhara does something unusual. Instead of making Oliver the secondary character focus she splits it between Oliver and his ex-boyfriend Eli. This makes some sense due to Cooper suffering some two different problems. First, there is the upcoming wedding with Oliver. Second, Cooper is having something of an existential crisis in trying to get a grip surrounding this prophecy and how it pertains to the murders both he and Oliver are trying to solve. To do this Adhara made use of Eli and his development as a character as Eli is trying to escape both a blackmailer and possible death. Cooper’s character growth is rounded out by the presence of his former FBI trainer (and sort of his ex-lover) Neil Gerhart. All of these players are important because Cooper is the one character throughout this entire series of books who goes through the most changes. When we first meet him he’s a psychologically withdrawn person after surviving a savage attack from a werewolf. Even with all of the adventures he’s had with Oliver, which has brought about a significant amount of emotional healing, he’s still a difficult person to get along with when under extreme emotional stress, and since these books are primarily about him it is necessary to at least see his character grow and evolve from one story to the next, and this additional cast of characters help him achieve that whether he likes it or not. The result was quite surprising as I found me not liking Cooper very much at the beginning of Cry Wolf, but by the middle of the story, his positive attributes made him both a very likable and strong character. As always, Oliver is a wonderful character, but this story is all about Cooper.
The murder mystery started rather simply only to take a very peculiar direction making it tricky to follow. I had a difficult time tracing the logic as to why these murders were taking place. It wasn’t until the killer explained the reasons as to why these specific people were killed that all of it came into focus. In typical Agatha Christie style, the murderer, and the reasons for the murder, are not quite what you expect them to be!
As with the previous books, Cry Wolf was a joy to read. All of the characters are developed in a consistent manner allowing them to come to life in the mind of the reader, and the murder mystery Cooper and Oliver find themselves in is as wonderfully unique as in the previous books of this series. Cry Wolf is gay literature. As with before, there are numerous sexual moments between Cooper and Oliver. They are steamy but they also serve to define both Cooper and Oliver as individuals as well as a couple. This is very much a romance/mystery novel for people who love reading stories with strong LGBTQ characters making it a book that is definitely worth reading!
Cry Wolf will be released on January 18, 2021, and can be purchased for the Kindle on Amazon.