Note: I’m always a bit lost on how I should review Mystery/Thrillers, so I looked on Goodreads to see what others said about the book, and I was a bit confused at what I found. It seemed that other people were judging this novel as a MM Romance…which wasn’t how I saw it at all. There are tons of cross genre books out there – it isn’t a new thing – but saw some complaints about the “heat level” in this novel (in that there wasn’t enough explicit sex), so I’m saying up front that I’ll be treating this as a Gay Mystery/Thriller. Take that as you will.
The Plot: There’s a murder on Mount Washington where Jesse Morales has a winter job, and Kyle Dubois arrives with his partner to investigate it. Being off season, there aren’t a lot of suspects, so everyone thinks that this will be a quick case, open and shut. As Morales plays detective, Dubois tries to keep him from becoming the next victim. The deeper they go into the investigation, the more fucked up the story gets, morphing into a delightfully twisted psychothriller. The more fucked up the merrier, I like to say. Once I got halfway through the book, I had to stay up late one night to finish it, resulting in a book hangover the next day. So good.
I grew up reading Mystery (all kinds) from a very young age, and always felt that the stories weren’t gay enough, or if they were gay, they were gay like “Silence of the Lambs” is gay. You know, “It puts the lotion in the basket.” This wasn’t that, because both of our heroes are gay, which was cool. I find Fessenden’s writing to be exceedingly comfortable for me, and he gave me that gay mystery I’d been craving since childhood. Really my entire experience reading his work has been a bit of an epiphany. *hat off*
The Characters: It was cute how so many readers immediately caught on that Dubois thought Morales looked like Ingrid Bergman, and Morales thought Dubois looked like Humphrey Bogart. I hadn’t really picked up on that (not being a big old movie fan), but when I looked at the book cover – holy shit – Morales did look like Bergman! That was adorable.
Morales is a young mystery writer. On top of that he’s insatiably curious, brave, and impetuous – the perfect amateur sleuth. It was highly entertaining watching him run from clue to clue. He’s fresh, fun, and flirty, and ready for some cop action.
Dubois was interesting for me. His wife died, and she was the only one who knew that he was bisexual – or at least bicurious. I appreciated that Dubois was actually bisexual, and not just “a gay man trapped in a heterosexual relationship”, which I see frequently in MM Romance, but not so much in other LGBTQ+ fiction (another reason why this novel didn’t strike me as MM). It’s not like I have a problem with the idea that gay men marry people they aren’t sexually interested in (I’m sure it’s more common than I’d like to think), but I sort of feel it’s a bit of a trope in the genre. I recognize my bias, being who I am, but I also appreciated the effort Fessenden went into making both Dubois and Morales more complex people. All of the characters are real and engaging.
Along the same vein of interesting people, were some of the secondary characters like Todd, the brother of Stuart Warren; Corrie, the fiancee; and Joel, the lonely friend. In several scenes, I felt like I was in the room talking with these people, they were so vivid, and some of them exhibited a sexual fluidity that I enjoyed.
Dreamspinner Press – Where Dreams Come True…
International publishers of quality gay romantic fiction since 2007
DSP Publications – Off the Beaten Path. Worth the Journey.
Harmony Ink Press – LGBTQ+ Young Adult Fiction