I had to read this book after being attracted by the creepy cover and the publisher’s synopsis. Below is how my attraction turned out;
Author: John SIMPSON & Robert CUMMINGS
Publisher: DREAMSPINNER PRESS
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
After coming out to his family and being disowned by his father, Adam is forced to drop out of college and work at a convenience store to make ends meet. At the store, he meets handsome but married and deeply closeted police officer Steven Miller. Their illicit affair quickly becomes much more for Adam, but Steven can only return his affections physically. Hurt and unfulfilled, Adam turns to a gay dating site to hook up for sex. During one of his hook-ups, he’s robbed.
Although Adam expects Steven to help him out, Brian, another member of the dating site, comes to his rescue instead. Brian helps him recover his property and wants a more personal relationship. But when the man who robbed Adam turns up dead and things happen that Adam can only describe as supernatural, it becomes apparent Brian wants more than Adam is willing to give.
This is a very atmospheric story and the prologue sets the tone quite nicely. As that prologue introduces us to ‘Brian’ I found that I was expecting Brian to appear at any moment, which did add a lovely sense of tension to the narrative. I liked that this is one of the first m/m novels I’ve read that portrayed an accurate description (according to my gay friends et al) of the use of internet hook-up sites. It certainly illustrated the danger, ranging from a simple but unpleasant stolen wallet event to the eventual extremes of stalking and worse.
I find stalking a very disturbing subject and the authors have used texts, initially, to heighten the alarm the reader feels for ‘Adam’ on receiving them. Brian and Adam meet for a coffee and that is all it takes. The texts start and then Brian presents Adam with a package containing his missing wallet and blood splattered money, which by this time Adam is a bit worried about accepting. Adam is attacked in the park and knocked out but is aware of a needle or something sharp being inserted into his back. During the attack Adam’s gorgeous dog, ‘Pepper’, is sprayed in the eyes as she tries to protect her master. This upset me more than the attack on Adam. Following the attack the lives of Adam and his friends become more complicated and worrying. Despite having only had one coffee together Adam receives at text from Brian, which states,
I hope you know I still love you even after what happened in the park. I think we can still make this work. I feel like our souls are intertwined and we were meant to be together.
I think this might be something we have to talk about in person, texting isn’t going to repair the damage you’ve done to our relationship.
I enjoy a murder mystery even ones with paranormal events, but I find the state of mind of the delusional stalker the most frightening. There is no reasoning with someone so far from the normal mind set. There is a paranormal element to this novel, but it doesn’t really become evident until quite late in the story. There is a realistic amount of scepticism to the voodoo side of things and I really approved of the explanation given, about religions, in order to create a sense of reality to the story’s paranormal elements,
Religion? Are you talking about man’s narrow interpretation of the universe around him? All religions tell some truth and, in their beginnings before evil men corrupted the truths, the religions explained the way of life. But what you know of religion today is a very convoluted truth. The universe holds only one truth and each religion tries to speak of the truth in its own terms.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers and it’s always difficult to avoid this in mysteries, however I would like to touch on why I didn’t give this story more than a 4* rating. I find often that stories with complex plots suffer, where the relationship side of the main characters is concerned, and that happened here. The connection between ‘Steven’, the closeted cop, and Adam was too thin. I know these characters had to be apart a lot and why, but where was the longing, the frustration at the situation, the need for physical intimacy and emotional reassurances. Towards the end when it is necessary for Steven to own up his feelings for the protection of Adam’s life and drink a potion, he hesitates and Adam thinks,
Steven didn’t love him after all. All those wasted nights hoping Steven would call or stop by had been for nothing. Steven was a selfish, scared little man.
I was actually pleased when I read this thinking it would work out between Adam and his friend ‘Ashton’ who had been there for Adam all the time and hadn’t hesitated to drink the potion to help Adam. I just felt no empathy for the character of Steven. Additionally, this tense story is leading up to a paranormal conflict and exorcism, for want of a better word, at its climax, but rather than fear and fireworks the ending had less spark than a blown out candle. I was so invested in this story that this anticlimax at the end of the book spoiled the rest. I mean no disrespect but it did feel as though the authors had been told the book could only be 200 pages long and on page 190 they realised they had a lot of plot to wrap up in too few pages.
It is a good story and a plot worth reading, maybe the ending will be satisfying for another reader.
I would like to thank Dreamspinner Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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