Genre: LGBTQIA, Mystery/Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Romance
Theme: Slow Burn
Content warning: homophobia
I love romantic suspense, but they can sometimes be a little light on the suspense and a little heavy on the romance for me. The mystery plot in this book is strong enough to stand on its own, but my god, does the romance sweeten the deal.
Detective Everett Larkin works for the cold case squad in New York. A tree has blown over in Madison Square Park and in its uprooting, a crated skeleton has been unearthed. Buried with the skeleton is a death mask. He’s called to the scene of a crime as the victim is already a skeleton and the dudebros of the homicide squad don’t want a ‘loser’ case. The crime scene detective on scene suggests that Everett reach out to Detective Ira Doyle of the forensic artists unit as he might be able to help.
And so, magic happens. But it’s a glorious, tentative slow burn kind of magic. So tentative, in fact, that it takes ages for anything approaching romance to happen. Ira comes to see Everett and the banter between the two is instantly fantastic, but any flirting is very gentle and subtle. Ira is just charming by nature. He’s easy-going, calm and optimistic, but with a sense of substance to him so that his depth as a character is maintained. I start with the love interest because describing Everett is a whole different ball game.
Something happened to Everett in his past and as a result he has developed highly superior autobiographical memory. He remembers everything, but his short-term memory for external things like appointments and the like is very poor. Be it as a reminder on his phone or just his memory doing its thing, Everett notices and catalogues everything around him. This renders him Holmesian in his approach to detective work. Because the thing that led him to this point was traumatic and the actual experience of having this kind of memory is a challenge, Everett comes with a lot of baggage.
This is where the two characters combined create magic. Ira looks at Everett, all of him, and takes delight in Everett’s Everett-ness – not in a romantic sense initially, although there is a hint of the chemistry to come right from their first encounter. This is a new experience for Everett even though he’s already married. The marriage is so broken that it’s easy to root for the love interest who seems to actually like Everett. But any potential ‘cheating’ is handled so honestly that I never wanted to condemn either for their behaviour. Side note: Everett’s husband Noah is easy to understand and have empathy for. It’s clear that this is a relationship that just doesn’t work, with neither party being the villain.
I realise that I’ve focused a great deal of my word count on the interplay between our two characters, but that isn’t because the mystery element is overshadowed. Not at all! It’s a fantastically plotted mystery about which I will reveal nothing in this review because each clue is revealed so skilfully that the journey towards the culprit is effortless for the reader. It’s believable, real and tangible.
I want to let potential readers know that there is some homophobia in the story directed at the characters. Everett’s colleagues tend to be culprits. The writing is so skilled that they never become cartoon villains, but they are by no means sympathetic characters.
Who is this book for? The ideal reader would be someone who wants the following – with proportions in brackets:
1. An excellently plotted police procedural with a Holmesian detective (70%)
2. A m/m slow burn romance in which love and attraction are a benediction for our main character (30%)
This is the first book in a series, and I can very heartily recommend both this book and the next in the series. The third book should be released in summer and I can’t wait!
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I’m just … wow. Did someone mention catnip? Thank you, Lara.
It was funny to see this today, as just last night I was thinking it was time for a reread before the next one is out.
I really liked this book and the next, SUBWAY SLAYINGS, giving them an A- (Really Liked A Lot). I pre-ordered BROADWAY BUTCHERY way back in October. It comes out May 23.
Laura’s review is spot on and well done.
Bloody hell. It DID say “Lara” when I reread this before sending.
Oh well, I guess since I’m here, I will add that Lara is right to point out that Noah isn’t made a villain. It was a breath of fresh air and a nice bit of writing (the author didn’t take the easy/lazy way out).
Used to be (decades ago) that “police procedural” was the name of a very specific subgenre that was deep into the technicalities (procedures) of how police work, reveling in the jargon and staying focused on the squad. But I don’t even know who writes like that any more, if anyone, because “police procedural” has come to be used for any mystery where the detective is employed with the police.
I recently discovered this series and now I adore Ira and Everett. I’m waiting to read the second book so I can segue into book three.
Oh, this sounds fantastic. I’m iffy around cheating in romantic leads but I’m willing to take a chance on this one anyway, especially if the ‘Evil Ex’ is not evil and the situation is treated with actual gravity.
OMG – I cannot say enough good about this book. I sucked it down, read the next in the series (equally good), and per-ordered the third book. The characters are masterfully drawn. It was good enough that I, a non-commenter, felt compelled to give it a both thumbs up.
If you are at all into audiobooks, allow me to screech joyful encouragement in your direction for the audios of this series. Kale Williams gives Doyle the perfect smoky, sexy, calm voice with absolutely no hint of smarminess, and Williams’s characterization of Larkin is equally terrific. He brings nuances out of the text, like the subtle humor, and the occasional changes in Larkin’s speech patterns. Each side character has a readily identifiable voice, as well. It’s a massive pleasure to listen and re-listen to this series.
This sound so good. Thanks for the review.
I really enjoyed this book. Everett basically has an invisible disability or, at least, a condition that those with invisible disabilities can strongly identify with.
I want to expand on the CW with slightly spoilery info. He struggles a lot with reliving the traumatic event that led to his condition, and the event was a violent attack fueled by homophobia.
I loved both the books in this series and can’t wait for the third next month!
A lot f this sounds really good. But that estranged spouse part is a real turn-off even without cheating. I don’t want to waste time in a romance going over the last stages of the hero’s doomed marriage.
I really liked this book and will read the second one as well. But as to the whole cheating situation I want to caution readers that there actually ís cheating in this book. It is ‘only’ a kiss and the main character immediately tells the husband. But that still counts as cheating in my book.
Also regarding the soon-to-be ex: there was IMHO more than a smidgen of ‘omg he doesn’t understand me/blames everything on me and now I’ve met this person who immediately understands all my needs/he’s just perfect’. Aka I did not feel the soon-to-be ex husband was not vilified. He is definitely vilified by the main character even though the writer tries to gain some sympathy for the poor fellow.
Cannot say enough good things about this series and already preordered No3. As someone sadly ND with HEHS as well as ADHD and Aspergers–ugh be me amirite?–this series has it exactly right. The relentless struggle to find your moments controlling necessary but tricky Rxs and dislike from work colleagues and basically everyone else until your trix can serve their needs. Great complimentary writing along with Helen Huang’s series to address ND peeps in the real world. Highly recommended