It got much, much better after my 22% status update. In fact, I stayed up late to finish it. Which brings me to why it lost a whole two stars (it would have lost one anyway for the clunky, tedious beginning). It doesn't actually have an ending. I suppose you might call it a cliff-hanger, but I call it a cop-out. You can keep the thread of mystery going and still end the actual story you're telling. But this one ends in a way that makes the whole story feel almost like an excerpt.
Pretty darn infuriating after slogging through the beginning, getting sucked into the action, and just starting to get a feel for the chemistry of the characters.
There was one other thing that was just plain wrong.
One of the characters (not the lead) has to sit through a video tape of a woman being brutally gang raped. He's being shown this tape by the woman's husband (she's been abducted and the man is asking for help). So, when this character meets this woman face-to-face for the first time, you would assume his first response to her would be sexual awareness, right? No? You wouldn't think that? NEITHER WOULD I!!! It was really bizarre. The guy's first thoughts on seeing this woman off screen are sexual. And it's not addressed that it's an odd reaction for any other reason than the fact this particular character hates women (from, of course, some past trauma) and he acknowledges she's married. What about the fact that your only exposure to her has been seeing her tied to a bed while three different men rough her up and rape her? It was seriously effed up.
In the acknowledgments, the author thanks several people for their diligent, hard work, reading and rereading this book before publishing. I would have thought one of them might raise a red flag on the above story line. I know I would have.
So ... am I going to read the next one when it comes out in the summer? I honestly don't know. I'm interested in the lead character's story in that one, but if I'm going to get a flipping-the-bird non-ending again, I might be more of a mind to skip it.