Recent Reads: Criminal Intentions Season Two and Run Wild, Run Free

A couple of weeks back I devoted my Recent Reads blog to Season One of Criminal Intentions by Cole McCade. Since then, I have been compelled to read Season Two, as I am completely addicted to detective and romantic partners Malcolm and Seong-Jae. So this week I have to devote some space to raving about it. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

In Season Two, Cole takes us away from the police procedural setting in Baltimore explored in Season One as our couple is seconded to the FBI in Los Angeles (Seong-Jae’s family base plus his place of previous employment) in a gripping investigation to track down the terrifying Golden Ratio killer.

This is not only a tense race against time in a gruelling manhunt but also delves into the strain of this brutal case on our couple. This is particularly difficult for Seong-Jae, not only facing his more recent ex, the FBI division chief, Aanga Joshi but also coming to terms with his troubled teenage years and their consequences as a connection between the Golden Ratio killer and Sila becomes apparent.

I found this an amazing combination of deeply scary twistedness (I had to skim-read over some of the gorier bits as I’m such a wuss) balanced by the depth and sweetness of Seong-Jae and Malcolm’s relationship. An edge of the seat read throughout. And yes, I’ve already started on Season Three!

In complete contrast to tracking down modern American serial killers, Fiona Glass’ new release Run Wild, Run Free is a gentle foray into a small-minded, small mining town in 1950s England.

Neuro-divergent Joey, considered locally as ‘different’ is struggling at the cusp of adulthood within the narrow confines of parental and societal expectations when he meets charismatic Billy, a member of the travelling community, in the area for seasonal work. The two young men initially bond over a shared love of the natural world.

Joey’s point of view is so engaging and endearing with his clear-sighted outlook as he gradually accepts his emerging feelings for Billy and matures as a consequence. The romance is very sweet and special with Billy’s care and desire for Joey shining through.

What made this beautifully written story so special for this reader were the detailed and exquisite descriptions of the countryside through Joey’s eyes. As with all Fiona‘s stories, I found Run Wild, Run Free so emotionally satisfying, as Joey found his voice and his chance of escape from his humdrum existence in this gorgeously evocative and atmospheric story.

Recent Reads: Criminal Intentions, Season One

Usually, for Recent Reads, I tend to pick two or three stories I’ve recently read, depending on the length of the books and my time limits. This week, I’m only sticking to only one. But I think I can be forgiven since it’s a 13-part series!

For the last week or more, I’ve been completely involved with Criminal Intentions Season 1 by Cole McCade. I’m trying (and failing) to resist going straight on to Season 2!

I do love a bit of MM Romantic Suspense, so I thought I’d give this Baltimore-based detective series a whirl. I dipped into Episode One, The Cardigans and enjoyed meeting Malcolm Khalaji, a larger-than-life veteran Baltimore Homicide detective in his early forties and his new, younger, unwanted and unwilling professional partner, Seong-Jai Yoon, a transfer from LA. I really enjoyed the opposites-attract vibe between exuberant renegade Malcolm and icy, reserved, by-the-book Yoon. I also found the emphasis on LGBTQIA+ and multicultural characters very involving and I thought I’d carry on with the series at least for a few books. Then I got absolutely sucked in and I couldn’t stop reading compulsively!

Initially, although I totally appreciated Code McCale’s choice of titling Criminal Intentions as a television series with episodes, I was a few books in before his reasons absolutely clicked with me. I’m dense that way!

This is a carefully crafted slow burn, about so much more than simply getting our central couple together with a background of detective investigation. When I was getting to the halfway stage, I realised that the first books set up major supporting characters and situations (exactly like a tv show) and also that initial incidents that seemed fleeting or unimportant were planting the seeds of a series-long and vitally important story arc.

Once I’d got into the rhythm of Criminal Intentions, I realised the pattern was one homicide case per book, together with underlying story arcs slowly coming together with increasing dramatic tension as the story continued. Sorry for being vague, but I’m doing my best not to spoil things and give away too many specifics here!

Of course, the beating heart of this series is the deepening connection between Malcolm and Seong-Jai, as the sparks of reluctant attraction become a tempestuous, passionate and deeply-felt love affair. The exquisite language Cole employs when they are alone entwined together away from crime scenes is so convincing of their mutual love. I had to stop and read a few passages twice as they were so beautiful and lyrical. As a result, I’m completely sold on these two very different, complicated and equally wonderful men.

The author creates a fantastic sense of tension between their professional and personal lives and at least one encroaching outside threat that might tear them apart. Criminal Intentions is high-stakes edge-of-the-seat stuff and you can see why I’m struggling not to plunge straight into Season 2!