The Bitter Past

A Mystery

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Pub Date 18 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 01 Aug 2023
St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books

Description

In the tradition of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box, Bruce Borgos's The Bitter Past begins a compelling series set in the high desert of Nevada featuring Sheriff Porter Beck…

Porter Beck is the sheriff in the high desert of Nevada, north of Las Vegas. Born and raised there, he left to join the Army, where he worked in Intelligence, deep in the shadows in far off places. Now he's back home, doing the same lawman's job his father once did, before his father started to develop dementia. All is relatively quiet in this corner of the world, until on old, retired FBI agent is found killed. He was brutally tortured before he was killed and clues at the scene point to a mystery dating back to the early days of the nuclear age. If that wasn't strange enough, a current FBI agent shows up to help Beck's investigation.


In a case that unfolds in the past (the 1950s) and the present, it seems that a Russian spy infiltrated the nuclear testing site and now someone is looking for that long-ago, all-but forgotten person, who holds the key to what happened then and to the deadly goings on now.

Praise for The Bitter Past

"A thrilling and assured debut, Bruce Borgos’ The Bitter Past is at once a high stakes tale of high treason in the high desert and an unflinching examination of the lasting scars that even the coldest of wars can leave behind."—Chris Holm, Anthony Award winning author of The Killing Kind and Child Zero

"A crisp jolt of cask-strength, 100-proof writing." —Craig Johnson

"Vividly set in Nevada's high desert, The Bitter Past is an emotional story about the steep cost of doing the right thing. Bruce Borgos tells a gripping tale with vivid characters at a breakneck pace - I can't wait to see what Porter Beck does next!" —Nick Petrie, author of The Runaway

“Bruce Borgos’ new mystery checks all the boxes: A stunning opening chapter, fascinating characters, plenty of action, intriguing story lines, wonderful humor to offset the tension, and even a hint of romance. I was sorry to see it end.” —Anne Hillerman, author of the Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito mysteries

In the tradition of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box, Bruce Borgos's The Bitter Past begins a compelling series set in the high desert of Nevada featuring Sheriff Porter Beck…

Porter Beck is the sheriff in...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781250848079
PRICE $28.00 (USD)
PAGES 320

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Average rating from 21 members


Featured Reviews

Wow. The Bitter Past is brilliant. This has taken me on an unexpected journey through a messy history. I loved the characters and the story line. Well done.

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In addition to an excellent cast of characters, the author adds another—The Cold War. Progressing through the story, the reader learns so much about the tenuous relationship between the world’s super powers as we work through a well-developed story

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Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found the subject matter very interesting - nuclear weapons, espionage - and I love when a fiction novel makes me want to read plenty of nonfiction about the time period and/or the subject to learn more; and this book certainly does that. This was definitely a page turner for me.

I did not like the Sana/Beck storyline. It felt forced and I didn’t have many feel-good emotions about it. Some of the thoughts Beck had about her made me eye roll at a character I otherwise liked. It’s not going to stop me from reading more in the series, though and I am looking forward to reading the second book.

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Big thanks to both Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Bitter Past!

This entertaining book is set in Nevada's high desert. The first timeline is set in the present and features Sheriff Porter Beck, with the second one taking place in the 1950s during the testing of nuclear bombs. (I appreciated that the 1950s chapters had headings that said "The Past." It's beyond my comprehension why some authors don't do that.) The intriguing characters grabbed me from the beginning and I found the sheriff's humor nicely offset the serious parts of the book.

The Bitter Past deals with the dicey cost of doing the right thing. I hope this will be a series because I want to know what happened after the last paragraph of the book!! This was definitely an impressive first book.

I enjoyed reading the author's notes, especially where he thanked his wife and wrote "When I told you in the second grade this was going to happen, you didn't believe me, did you?"

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I truly enjoyed this journey. The author did a wonderful job of weaving the past with the present and created a cast of characters that were relatable. Truth be told, I thought the first 2/3 of the book was masterful. I was on the edge of my seat. The finale went a little too shoot-em-up adventure story for me, but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the tale.

Well done, and highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of the novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Bitter Past by Bruce Borgos An intense and engrossing page turner with intriguing characters, spies, the Cold War, nuclear weapons, torture and murders. Although at times inappropriate, Sheriff Porter Beck's humor does take the edge off themore serious parts of the book. The interactions between Sana and Beck were at times annoying and seemed forced. Author's notes were an added bonus.

Thank you to the author, Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book

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Big thanks to both Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Bitter Past!

This entertaining book is set in Nevada's high desert. The first timeline is set in the present and features Sheriff Porter Beck, with the second one taking place in the 1950s during the testing of nuclear bombs. (I appreciated that the 1950s chapters had headings that said "The Past." It's beyond my comprehension why some authors don't do that.) The intriguing characters grabbed me from the beginning and I found the sheriff's humor nicely offset the serious parts of the book.

The Bitter Past deals with the dicey cost of doing the right thing. I hope this will be a series because I want to know what happened after the last paragraph of the book!! This was definitely an impressive first book.

I enjoyed reading the author's notes, especially where he thanked his wife and wrote "When I told you in the second grade this was going to happen, you didn't believe me, did you?"

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This wildly engrossing novel transported me back to the mountains, and brown-ness of Nevada, where we spent the last nine years, in and right outside of Las Vegas, before moving to the countryside. As much as I missed winter with snow, I have to admit that I do miss desert winters.

Excellent and consuming, I kept at this one and read it quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed what I hope is the opening novel to a new series that I’m looking forward to reading more of (please tell me that is going to be a series!)

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I enjoyed this book and believe the author will grow in future books. There were certain elements that needed context and explaining that made me scratch my head. Overall though it was a compelling read that kept me awake to find out what would happen next.

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Some Heroes Have Half-Lives. Honestly, I didn't even realize while reading this book that it was Book 1 of a new series - though with the way things end, I could certainly allow for that possibility. Here, Borgos manages to capture a lingering effect of the Cold War not often seen by those of us living on the East Coast - well away from all Cold War era nuclear test sites, including the Nevada deserts pictured here and the New Mexico deserts featured in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, which will be releasing around the same time as this book. We also get a dual timeline yet linked spy thriller (in the past)/ murder mystery (in the present), and in neither case is all as it seems. Borgos manages the pacing of each quite well, and the ultimate integration of the two quite seamlessly. Ultimately this is absolutely a world and storytelling style I'd love to come back to, so I'm glad there will be at least one more book forthcoming here. Very much recommended.

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"The Bitter Past" is one of the best novels I have read in recent memory. Fast paced, gripping and really interesting, the plot has one asking "what if" through out. I heartily recommend this book, and look forward to reading more from Mr. Borgos. Outstanding! I didn't want it to end...

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A very well written book with events from past and present in one that says the story. Reading this book made me anxious to know what the next adventure of beck will be like in Nevada.other than the sheriff we are introduced to many interesting characters. there are a lot of twist and tons that will keep you engaged.Everything about the book makes you pulled towards the story line, the characters, references about the war,nuclear weapon and the murders. thank you Netgalley and the author for the arc. I can't wait for more Nevada tales.

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Very interesting story line . Well thought out and put together. Fluid even though it transpired between two time periods. So unusual - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Bruce Borgos' The Bitter Past has a sanguinary opening few pages that were a bit difficult to move beyond, and yet, after I read into the well-developed plot of the book, I was quickly taken in. Porter Beck, a retired military man who is now a sheriff in rather remote Nevada, is perplexed by what happened here in the early 1950s and what initiated the contemporary and connected grisly murder he is faced with. Borgos does a great job of examining espionage, results of the Cold War, Russian spies, and nuclear testing sites, thus the eponymous title The Bitter Past.

Borgos is able to skillfully incorporate various characters into the novel, and his familial relationships and his relationships with his "team" at the sheriff's office are important to the progress of the plot. How vitally important we only know at the very end of the book. Borgos also moves seamlessly between the two timelines, that of the contemporary and that of preparations for recondite nuclear testing from the past.

The romance between Sana, the FBI agent, and Porter Beck is not always as strong and clear as it could be, and it creates some questions about the strength of the relationship and its direction. Nonetheless, Porter Beck's connection to his "sister" and to his father are important and seminal, and the final plot surprise at the end of the book definitely leads the reader into curiosity about what will happen in the next book. And, yes, we hope there will be one.

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I really enjoyed this book. I got to where I didn't want to stop reading. I loved the mystery and the suspense of it. I had no inclining of who the real Freddie was. It was a twist.

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This was a new author for me with the first of what I hope will be many in a new series. At once a spy story from the fifties area 51, romantic yearnings that cannot survive and a present day Russian spy thriller (thriller is an often overused description I rarely use, in this case it’s truly appropriate). The setting in Nevada is ruggedly and beautifully described, including the notorious Secret Area 51 and secret Project 57. The characters kept me engaged and entertained. The premise of the plot is original and hard to put in a cliché category.
Sheriff Porter Beck has a motley staff, some trustworthy, some with questionable allegiance. A case develops that will have him distrusting everything and everyone in his hometown. FBI Special Agent Sana Locke arrives further complicating his personal and professional life. Trust no one in this story. It’s everything you want in a mystery, there’s misdirection, depth of characters, historical relevance, hints of romance, kidnapping, murder, radioactive plutonium, and a Russian intelligence operative.
A powerful story with grains of truth that frighten and horrify me. Not a book I will forget, a fantastic read! My rating would exceed 5 stars and I don’t often do that.
It was a privilege to receive a digital advance reader copy from NetGalley of “The Bitter Past” by Bruce Borgos and St. Martin’s Publishing, Minotaur Books. Scheduled for release July 18, 2023 – don’t miss it! These are all my own honest personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily.

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