Who cares what happened before this, the Russian mob is somehow part of the plot now.
Detective Graves and her partner Detective Michna show up to speak to Eva about some new information they have regarding Nathan’s death. Everybody, calm down, the Russian mob will be with you momentarily, but first, more exposition:
Graves, a rail-thin woman with a severe face and foxlike blue eyes, was in the lead. Her partner, Michna, was the quieter of the two, an older man with receding gray hair and a paunch. They had a rhythm between the two of them—Graves was the heavy who kept the subjects occupied and off-balance. Michna was obviously good at fading into the background while his cop’s eyes cataloged everything and missed nothing. Their success rate had to be pretty high.
This makes Michna an even more forgettable minor character than the others, so much so that it his defining character trait. Little did you know, but Shawnee and Megumi have been in the room this whole time. No, not really, but the fact that I felt I had to clarify that joke means it’s believable that Day would put a ton of minor characters into a room with Eva only to never mention them again.
“Are you familiar with Andrei Yedemsky?” Graves asked.
I frowned at her. “No. Who’s that?” [Matthew says: PRO WRITING TIP: The best time to start mentioning who your main antagonists are is over halfways through the book.]
She dug in her bag and pulled out a sheaf of eight-by-ten photos, setting them down in front of me. “This man. Have you seen him before?”
Reaching out with shaking fingers, I pulled the top photo toward me. It was of a man in a trench coat, talking to another man about to climb into the back of a waiting town car. He was attractive, with extremely blond hair and tanned skin. “No. He’s not someone you’d forget meeting, either.” I looked up at her. “Should I know him?”
I like how even the potential villains have to be attractive, lest an ugly character tarnish the good name of the Crossfire series.
Apparently, they found the photos of Eva, taken by Nathan, in Andrei’s apartment.
“Andrei Yedemsky is a known member of the Russian mob,” Michna explained. “In addition to smuggling alcohol and assault weapons, they’ve also been suspected of trafficking women. It’s possible Barker was making arrangements to sell or trade you for that purpose.”
Woah woah woah, is that where this series is going? Our characters…Eva and Gideon…are going to take down human traffickers from the Russian mob? This would be like if suddenly Divergent became the Ghostbusters reboot during the last book in the trilogy. [Matthew says: Oh, I wanna play this game too! This would be like if Beautiful Disaster suddenly became about Las Vegas mobster during the last third of the… wait…]
Eva also has trouble believing this is the plot:
I backed away from the counter, shaking my head, unable to process what they were saying. Nathan stalking me was something I could believe. He’d hated me on sight, hated that his father had remarried instead of mourning his mother forever. He’d hated me for getting him locked up in psychiatric treatment, and my being awarded the five-million-dollar settlement he thought of as his inheritance. But the Russian mob? Sex trafficking? I couldn’t comprehend that at all. [Matthew says: Eva saying exactly what the reader is thinking, but not for the intended reasons.]
“Sure he hated me enough to sexually abuse me for years and years, but did he hate me enough to involve the Russian mob? The line’s gotta be drawn somewhere!”
All of the above is also a really weird way of explaining Nathan’s actions. I think, “Nathan had always been a psycho. But the Russian mob? Sex trafficking? I couldn’t comprehend that at all.” No need to try to convince us he was so upset his father had remarried that he decided to repeatedly rape his step-sister and then possibly sell her to the Russian mob.
Andrei, who has also been murdered, was found wearing Nathan’s mother’s bracelet, the one Nathan always had with him. So this innocent suspect we were all worried about is actually supposed to be evil, and also dead. Really glad that moral quandary was so neatly wrapped up and tossed into the sea. [Matthew says: Are there only like eleven people in the entire world? This is such an unlikely coincidence of “this character was ALSO THIS CHARACTER” plot convenience. The only way to get more absurd from here would be to reveal that 1) Eva’s stepfather is the real head of the Russian mob, and 2) Eva’s real dad was The Comedian.]
I stared at Graves, who knew better. “You’re suggesting Yedemsky could be responsible for Nathan’s death? Then who killed Yedemsky?”
She held my gaze, understanding the motivation behind my question. “He was taken out by his own people.”
“You’re sure about that?” I needed to know that they knew Gideon wasn’t involved. Yes, he’d killed for me—to protect me—but he’d never kill just to avoid going to jail.
Eva, you’re sure about that? Cause I’m not so sure I’m sure. I mean, I know Day would never write this, but if this bore some resemblance to real life, I would wonder just a little bit.
I rubbed at the tightness in my chest and looked at Graves. “I want to put this behind me. I want him to stop ruining my life. Is that ever going to happen? Is he going to haunt me even after he’s dead?”
She quickly and efficiently collected the photos, her face impassive. “We’ve done all we can. Where you go from here is up to you.”
I showed up at CrossTrainer at quarter after six. I went because I’d told Megumi I would and I’d already flaked on her once.
You can go anywhere from here, Eva! The world is your oys- oh, so you just went to the same place you go to every evening. I didn’t realize this was a television series where you can only afford to build like four sets. Guess this really was a series destined to be adapted for the small screen! [Matthew says: Can we also talk about how the detectives’ official stance on this whole “you were almost abducted into a sex trafficking ring and we have zero leads on this investigation” is “lol you’re on your own”.]
At the gym with Megumi, Eva spots our favourite Evil Reporter Deanna and decides that now is a great time to chat with someone she hates. Even on a day when I just get stuck in bad traffic – opposed to a bad human trafficking plot – and am in a bad mood, I’m unlikely to even want to talk to a beloved friend let alone an arch nemesis.
“I’d ask if you come here often,” she replied, setting the weight back on the rack and standing, “but that’s too clichéd. How are you, Eva?”
Yeah, this seems like a good time to draw the line in the sand for cliches. Not, you know, when this character was first dreamt up. Sure, she can be the typical scorned lover, angry that a man carelessly cast her aside, but she can’t possibly utter a question like, “Do you come here often” without following it up with, “is something I’d never say.” Ironically, it’s just as much of a cliche when people point out what a cliched phrase this is whilst saying it.
The women exchange a few lines of pointless barbs, and then Deanna “saunters” off. It’s really unclear why this scene was included here, or why there seems to be only one gym in all of New York.
Minor characters eat Indian food with Eva, remind us that Gideon is sexy, and that Eva has Brett’s music video premier tomorrow. End scene. [Matthew says: I like how most of this book is reminders that subplots exist, as opposed to the subplots actually happening.]
Later that night, Eva finds Gideon waiting for her in her bedroom, having a nightmare about Nathan, and the creepiest scene in the world happens:
He growled, a low feral sound of aggression. “Never,” he bit out. “You’ll never touch her again.”
His body jerked violently, and then he moaned and curled to his side, shuddering.
The sound of his pain galvanized me. I climbed onto the bed, my hand touching his shoulder. The next moment I was on my back, pinned as he loomed over me, his eyes fixed and sightless. Fear paralyzed me.
“You’re going to know what it feels like,” he whispered darkly, his hips ramming against mine in a sick imitation of the love we shared.
The most disturbing thing is that Eva doesn’t even acknowledge to herself that this sounds a lot like Gideon is trying to rape Nathan in his dream. Fair enough if she feels weird asking him about it, but to not even pause to be like, “Well, hmmm, that seems really gross and bizarre and fucked up.” Or even “two rapes don’t make a right.”
Seriously, why is Gideon seemingly trying to rape Nathan and WHY IS THIS NOT TREATED AS A PROBLEMATIC TERRIFYING THING??? [Matthew says: Somehow this book managed to get worse than not treating first-degree murder as a problematic terrifying thing.]
Instead the conversation quickly shifts to what the detectives had to say earlier and taking a shower:
I watched Gideon take a shower while I brushed my teeth. His soapy hands slid over his body with economical indifference, his movements brisk and rough. There was none of the intimate worship I caressed him with, none of the awe or love.
It would be pretty weird if he didn’t shower with “economical indifference.” This would be like saying, “I took my clothes off quickly before bed. It wasn’t at all like when I do a strip tease for my boyfriend.” Thank you for the clarification, Eva.
After the economically indifferent shower of nonsexual washing, Gideon tells Eva that what’s really odd about the detectives finding Nathan’s bracelet on Andrei is that Nathan was wearing that bracelet when Gideon murdered him. With economical indifference, I’m sure, and not a trace of intimate worship.
He came up behind me when he was done, gripping my hips and pressing a kiss to my nape. “I don’t have any underworld ties,” he murmured.
I finished rinsing my mouth and looked at him through the mirror. “Does it bother you to have to say that to me?”
“I’d rather say it than have you ask.”
This is very clearly a pointed comment at us readers who are like, “Gideon is absolutely capable of the worst shit possible. Remember that time he murdered a dude and then got away with it because Money and Power?”
“Someone went to a lot of trouble to protect you.” Turning, I faced him. “Could it be Angus?”
Or Megumi? Or Magdalena (remember when she was a character in this series)? Or Will (that guy Eva went to lunch with from work one time)? Or maybe all the minor characters colluded on this one. No, I’ve got it, it was Cary in the CrossTrainer with the elliptical!
“No. Tell me how the mob guy died.”
My fingertips drifted over the ridges of his abdomen, loving the way the muscles flexed and clenched in response to my touch. “One of his own took him out. Retaliation. He was under surveillance, so Graves said they’ve got proof of that.”
“So it’s someone connected, then. To either the mob or the authorities, or both. Whoever’s responsible, they chose a fall guy who could take the blame and not pay for it.”
“I don’t care who arranged it, just so long as you’re safe.”
He kissed my forehead. “We need to care,” he said softly. “To protect me, they have to know what I did.”
So you do guys think it’s a minor character we already know? Or someone who hasn’t been in the book yet?