Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Bitter Past

The Bitter Past by Bruce Borgos
7/18/23; 320 pages
Minotaur Books
Porter Beck #1

The Bitter Past by Bruce Borgos is a very highly recommended mystery and the debut novel in the Porter Beck series. This is an excellent start to a new series and I will eagerly be awaiting the next investigation from Nevada's Sheriff Beck.

Sheriff Porter Beck's domain is in the high desert north of Las Vegas, Nevada. He left and worked in Army intelligence for years, but now Beck's back, doing the same job his father did before he developed dementia. Normally this is a quiet part of the state until an old, retired FBI agent is murdered after being brutally tortured. When FBI Special Agent Sana Locke show up to assist in the investigation, it confirms many of Beck's suspicions. The clues point to something that happened in the past, in the 1950's during the early days of the atomic testing program happening in the desert and the KGB's plans to infiltrate the program.

The chapters alternate between two timelines and narratives. The present investigation unfolds through Beck's first person account while events starting in 1955 are recounted in the third person. In 1955 the story of Freddie Meyer and Kitty Ellison is told. After they begin dating, Kitty's father helps Freddie get a job in security at the atomic testing site in the desert. The current murder investigation must look to the past for the information needed to solve it.

Beck is a great character, intelligent, clever, perceptive, and well-developed as a character. He, along with the astute writing, is a reason to absolutely look forward to the next book released in the series. The high desert of Nevada is also realistically portrayed.

The writing is exceptional and absolutely exceeded all my expectations. The novel is told in an intelligent manner and both of the two narrative threads are gripping, compelling, and complex. They held my complete attention equally and even though I wanted to continue the story in whatever timeline I was in, I correspondingly wanted to continue following the action in the alternate chapter. The Bitter Past is un-put-down-able.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Minotaur Books via NetGalley.

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