4 star rating
Bitter Crossing
A Peyton Cote Novel, Book #1
by D.A. Keeley
ISBN# 9780738740683
Author’s website:

This review is brought to you by  guest reviewer Alina

bitter-crossing-d-a-keeleyBeware of spoilers


Smugglers, old rivalries, and family troubles strike close to home for Agent Cote…

Border Patrol Agent Peyton Cote returns home to northern Maine, hoping for a quieter and safer environment for herself and her eight-year-old son. But her homecoming isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Dealing with her ex-husband, her sister with a big secret, and finding her place again in her old hometown is hard enough without the surprise bundle she discovers one night while on stakeout. Hoping to witness and bust a marijuana drop, Peyton instead finds a baby abandoned in a frozen field. And when she tries to figure out where the child belongs, Peyton is pulled into a deadly conspiracy. (Goodreads)


Bitter Crossing is the first in a series and much more entertaining than the above synopsis promises. It kept me up a couple of nights, when I was supposed to rest for my next day’s work. Not only that, but it touches on several points that are of interest to me.

First of all, I like Peyton. She is an intelligent, young mom, who wants to do both her duty toward her son and toward herself. The latter is a little difficult, since society sort of forces parents to think about their kids first, but I believe that a child with happy, accomplished parents is much happier than a child whose parents resent him for giving up their dreams. So, I do hope Peyton starts taking more care of herself, as well as of her son, and that Lois, Peyton’s mom, is going to be there for a long time, helping out. Peyton, we learn, has had to raise her little boy all by herself and at the same time build a strong reputation as an agent, since her husband left her. She, however, manages that just fine, because:

“She’d always taken failure hard. Even more than she liked solving a puzzle, it was her hatred of having a space incomplete that motivated her”.

I think she is a great mom, who has always her son’s best interests at heart, who even after having worked 20 hours, still manages to be there for her son’s game, her son’s breakfast or just driving him to school. She’s also extremely dedicated to her work, which for her is like keeping her father’s memory alive.

Unfortunately, I found a problem with Peyton: she doesn’t speak Spanish. She is supposed to speak fluent Spanish, at least that’s what we are told:

“Like every agent, she spoke fluent Spanish.”

But she doesn’t, at least not in my book, where it should be also correct. When talking to a suspect, she asks her:

“Hablo Espanol?” (Do I speak Spanish?)

Well, I don’t speak fluent Spanish, but still I know that that should be: Do you speak Spanish? (Hablas or Habla, if you want to be polite). Later on, she asks a guy, if he speaks Spanish, and for some reason, it still comes out wrong:

“Yo hablo Espanol?”

You guessed it: Do I speak Spanish? No, honey, you don’t, I’m sorry.

The second thing I like, is how strong Peyton is. There are very few women Patrol Agents, which means that life is pretty tough for them. They have to be very careful what they do and say, because everything can be interpreted as her not being able to do her job, because she is a weak woman:

“When Jackman cursed and wore his emotions on his sleeve, Peyton, a female in a male dominated profession, never felt allowed that luxury. For a male, an emotional display at a time of crisis relieved him of seeing a shrink for trauma stress. For her, it would play to every stereotype”.

For me, this is a challenge, and I love the way Peyton proves up to it.

Let’s continue with the good stuff: Peyton’s job is pretty cool. She is a US Border Patrol Agent, whose duty is to make sure that nothing gets over the border illegally. That means mostly people and drugs, but there are a lot of other possibilities: people’s imaginations are limitless. The lives of the Patrol Agents are always in danger: there are always drug lords who put a price on their heads. At the same time, they get to help innocent people that are taken advantage of, and put behind bars the brutes who treat people like slaves:

“money-hungry coyotes stuffing men, women and even children into storage containers with little air in the backs of 12-degree trucks to be smuggled across the desert to the US”.

I guessed what the whole mystery was all about pretty fast and I was kind of put off with the abundance of unnecessary details, like the description of Peyton’s and her sister’s son’s pajamas. However, the story is very elaborate and I liked the writing style and the main character, so I am definitely going to read the next in the series, as soon as it is ready.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*