Jan. 18th, 2010

piranha: red origami crane (Default)
when the cover of a book features a grungy skull instead of naked torsos, you know this isn't your average erotica, even if it was shelved with the lovely smut when you bought it. which was a good hint for me to time the reading for an evening when i was looking for a good story instead.

blurb: When Craig Robertson's religious fanatic father disappears, Craig is forced to return to the home he'd left behind after an underage affair in order to look for answers. His new lover, private investigator Paul Maloney, agrees to help so they can continue to enjoy their fledgling relationship.

During his initial search, Craig finds items that belonged to Michael, his lover in that long-ago ill-fated affair, and soon discovers that Michael has disappeared as well. The search becomes an investigation into Craig's past, and, because of distressing gaps in his memory, he's terrified of the truths he might find. Finally Craig tells Paul his deepest fear: that Michael is dead and he himself is responsible.

While Paul refuses to believe his lover is a murderer, Craig's obsession with uncovering clues grows, and their fragile relationship begins to disintegrate. Now on his own, haunted and stalked, Craig has to face down the horror of his memories if he wants to have any hope of a future at all.

i thought it was rather a captivating psychological mystery. the whole thing was hard for me to read because it had religious zealots in it of the type of my birth family (the supremely self-righteous, god-fearing kind who think they must beat said fear of god into you). while there is some sex and not just fade-outs, it's not erotica, and while there is romance, it takes a back seat to the story of craig uncovering his suppressed past. i figured out early on who did what, but that didn't bother me, since this is less about whodunnit, but more about craig dealing with the slowly unveiling reality of what really happened.at times i wanted to shake craig, but i believe that was more a personality difference between the character and myself than bad writing. in many ways craig is stuck at the emotional maturity of a traumatized 17 year old, and even when i was an emotionally traumatized 17-year old, i was much more prone to using logic to attack my pain than hiding from it, suppressing my memories, and going "lalala, i can't hear you" to people who point at the logical flaws in my arguments.

to some degree i could identify much more with paul, the PI, who had different tools to cope with the things they find out. but he, too, has secrets, and it's not a simple task to mix romance and business, especially not when neither of you are gonna win a prize for good communication.

the writing was good. both main characters are complex and conflicted, the supporting cast features strong women (this is a positive marker for me; i hate gay fiction that casts women only ever into the role of villains), the plot holds together pretty well for something that's not genre mystery. the villain is a bit uni-dimensional, a bit too nasty, and he gets away with things that might make modern city folk raise their eyebrows -- but i am ok with that because hey, i come from that background, and it is so very nasty, and has such dark secrets behind every door that i am ok with the broad brush; it's even a bit cathartic for me.

the romance, while not being the primary line of the story, is still interesting. both men have secrets, both are gun shy, both aren't exactly great at communicating intimately, but i liked the slow development here, the fragility of a budding romance that comes under immediate pressure where the writer shows a delicate balance between the definitely possibility it will crumble -- or become a source of strength.

i'm shelving this under "gay fiction", and i'll be looking for more from this author. in fact i found out after reading this that there's a semi-prequel, paul's story before he meets craig: maloney's law. i wish i had read this beforehand, because i am sure it explains much about the baggage paul brings to his relationship with craig.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

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