Title: Playing With Fire
Author: Dirk Greyson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 4th Nov, 2016
Genre(s): Mystery, Serial Killer, Romance
Page Count: 199
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Jim Crawford was born wealthy, but he turned his back on it to become a police officer. Add that to his being gay, and he’s definitely the black sheep of the family.
Dr. Barty Halloran grew up with lessons instead of friends and toys and, as a result, became a gifted psychologist… with only an academic understanding of people and emotions.
When Jim’s pursuit of a serial killer goes nowhere, he turns to Dr. Halloran for help, and Barty thinks he can get inside the shooter’s mind. In many ways, they’re two sides of the same coin, which both scares and intrigues him. Together, Jim and Barty make progress on the case—until the stakes shoot higher when the killer turns his attention toward Barty.
To protect Barty, Jim offers to let Barty stay with him, where he discovers the doctor has a heart to go along with his brilliant mind after all. But as they close in on their suspect, the killer becomes desperate, and he’ll do anything to elude capture—even threaten those closest to Jim.
“Playing with Fire” is mainly a mystery/crime novel with a secondary plot of romance between the MCs. The crime part starts off great with a dramatic ending in which the killer gets caught. The characters were well developed but I was not able to connect with them. The romance between the MCs lacked in emotion and heat and I was not sold on their “I love you”s at the end.
The story is well paced and the investigation behind the shootings was nicely written. Barty is a gifted criminal psychologist and his whole method of profiling the shooter was on point and I liked it a lot. As for the investigation/crime part, this story was able to pull off the whole “pull our brains together to catch the psychopath” nicely. My problem was with the romance and the overall development of it.
Barty is a brilliant guy who can read a criminal like a book but when it came to normal interactions with humans, he was at a complete loss. He is direct and says what’s on his mind. He is innocent in many ways and very lonely with only his cat for company. Jim is drawn in by Barty’s smarts and his innocence. While they work together Barty starts feeling something for Jim which he can’t explain. He is attracted to Jim and is very direct about his feelings for Jim.
Jim on the other hand has a thing for nerdy, glass-wearing professors. Barty’s no-nonsense outlook is refreshing to Jim and he finds himself falling in love. So, you must be thinking what’s wrong with this entire scenario??? First, the emotions involved in Barty’s opening up to Jim or Jim’s feelings for Barty were very bland without any excitement or the required amount of feels. Second, there were too many dialogues exchanged with very less emotions involved. Barty and Jim were attracted to each other but the eventual development from attraction to love was not handled properly. It was very dry. As I said, I could not connect with the characters or the feels regarding the emotional toll the case had on them.
Overall, this story has a good mystery but the romance part could not keep up with it. They were not properly balanced so even though I enjoyed the investigation I could not get excited over the romance. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading mysteries without any high expectations from the romance department.