Kovac/Liska Books In Order

Publication Order of Kovac/Liska Books

Ashes to Ashes (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dust to Dust (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prior Bad Acts (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The 9th Girl (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Bitter Season (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Kovac/Liska is a book series that stars Sam Kovac, a hard boiled police detective, and his wisecracking partner Nikki Liska in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first book in this series is called “Ashes to Ashes”, which features a killer who performs some profane ceremony in a wooded Minneapolis park, anointing his victims before setting their bodies ablaze. The killer has already killed three people, and he’s not about to stop his killing spree. However, things are different this time because there’s a witness but she’s reluctant to talk about what she saw.

Now enter Kate Conlan, a former FBI spook who now acts as an advocate for victims or witnesses. She is unable to tell whether the hesitant witness can be considered a likely victim or even something more sinister. Her superiors show an interest in the case only because this latest victim could be an enigmatic billionaire’s daughter. The billionaire in question is called Peter Bondurant, and he pulls strings to get special agent John Quinn assigned to this case. However, Kate has a troubled history with the FBI’s skilled profiler and she is not looking forward to working with him.

Now Kate faces one of the most challenging roles in her career, which may even have an impact on her life. The reason is that she is the only person who has the ability of stopping the killer, and the one person he wants to kill next. The Cremator, for that is what the killer was known as, will first torture his victims before setting them alight. Add a hesitant witness into the mix and you have the makings of a suspenseful story that takes you into the dark and murky world of a serial killer. The latest murder makes the authorities spring into action because it might involve a billionaire’s daughter.

The author has done a good job in making the characters seem real. For instance, Kate will come across as reserved and distant while John seems to have burnt out and his ability to profile criminals is now compromised. There is also a romance brewing, which helps to lighten the mood and keep you wanting to read on and find out if love will blossom in the midst of death and despair.

Another feather in the author’s cap is being able to describe the killer’s work in such a manner that you can actually smell the stench of his horrendous crimes. The suspense in the story is also great, and there are enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the very end. Perhaps the strange thing about this story is that the series is supposed to be about Kovak and his partner Liska, but they appear to have taken a back seat. However, Kate taking the leading role might not be a bad thing because she’s a tough cookie who has seen a lot, which makes her withdraw into her shell. John is another tough character, and he’s relentless, which helps in solving the murder mystery.

The second book in the Kovac/Liska series is called “Dust to Dust”, and in this story, an internal affairs investigator called Andy Paxton has been killed, which threatens to turn into a political time bomb for the Minneapolis Police Department. The deceased was gay, and he died while investigating a potential police connection in another gay officer’s brutal murder. Andy’s death appears like a suicide, or maybe it could actually be a sad and shameful accident. The top brass are now feeling the heat, and they have to solve this case ASAP.

As the lead detective, Sam Kovac isn’t convinced that this is a straightforward case and so he begins to dig deeper. It now starts to look like Paxton had discovered something and this is what led to his killing. It also appears that there might be some other potential victims. Once again the author has done a decent job, and the characters are well written while the plot is a decent one. This book is definitely a page turner and it is a good novel overall. However, some of the clues were a bit obvious and it didn’t seem plausible that the detectives failed to spot them right away.

But if you’re looking for a story in which the leading characters are well fleshed out, then Dust to Dust is definitely recommended reading. The two partners also engage in banter, which makes it more interesting. Perhaps the author could have tried not to make the book appear to be bashing gays, which is actually frowned upon nowadays. But maybe that was inevitable because some pop culture references dated this book unnecessarily, and maybe when the book was written, gay bashing was a normal thing.

Another area in which the author could have done better was to make better choices for some of the characters because you feel sad for them as a reader. The author also seems to ramble on too long, and the death of the gay cop is first ruled as a suicide, and then ruled accidental. Another death occurs and it is also ruled as a suicide, which might not be very plausible in the real world. Kovac and his partner are not satisfied with these rulings and so they starting digging deeper. The characterization also seems cliché because you have cops breaking the rules and being threatened by the bad guys, which can sometimes get a bit tiresome.

The language that the cops use may also not be appealing to some readers. These cops swear and make crude remarks, but other readers might find that normal and even entertaining. The saving grace is that there is a lot of suspense, and every time the reader seems to have figured out what was going on, a new twist is introduced. The story is also not your average “feel-good” type of book, and by the end of the story, you actually feel exhausted and utterly drained. However, reading the book is definitely worth it, and if these first two books are anything to go by, readers can look forward to an entertaining time reading more books in the Kovac/Liska series.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Kovac/Liska