Again, Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate with her current debunking assignment but this time she’s having to go about it with a broken heart. Mangled human corpses are showing up on the streets in Downside and Chess is forced to team up with the Black Squad to resolve the case. She’s under a binding spell that prevents her from talking about the investigation but Bump, her drug dealer, insists on being kept informed. This means she’s got to work even more with Terrible who hasn’t forgiven her after discovering her in the cemetery with Lex in an extremely compromising situation.
The case was really exciting with lots of twists and surprises but the real draw for me this time was the mess between Terrible and Chess. He’s hurt obviously but it shows up as red hot anger. You know that Terrible has the ability to be cruel…he’s an enforcer for Bump so you expect that. But, I was unprepared for the lengths he was able to go to in his treatment of Chess. Chess’ internalizing of it brought me to tears and of course, her way of handling it was typical…at first. I saw some real growth in her as she navigated making the first, second and third attempts to repair a relationship that didn’t seem salvageable.
I’m convinced now more than ever that we’re seeing the early stages of Chess fighting her way to an appropriate level of self esteem. She’s got a long way to go but she’s ultimately learning how to step outside of herself and fight for what’s important to her. She still makes just really bad decisions sometimes but Chess, for the first time, seems to be unwilling to walk away from this relationship. And when Terrible forgives, he does it in the only way he knows how…he puts all of himself into it.
This case was also a huge challenge. The Church was compromised and because Chess ended up in the middle of it, it also required Terrible and Lex to put aside their differences to support her. Again, I’m trying to dismiss Lex and he just won’t let me do it. Chess’ standing in the Church is strengthened and her relationship with Elder Griffin deepens. I keep wondering if there’s something behind his affection for Chess and his penchant for protecting her. Whatever it may or may not be, it’s a relationship that is important to both of them.
Still hooked on this series and, again, diving right back into it with the next book. I’m listening to the series and the narrator is fantastic.