Author: Harper Fox
Cover Artist: Author
Beverley’s Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Ulysses’ Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Now Lee is free from the malevolent ghost of Morris Hawke, his clairvoyant gifts are expanding fast. Too fast for comfort, and he and Gideon find themselves wrestling with his unsettling capacity to see the future. In some ways this new power is wonderful, and Lee finds himself a local hero after predicting a flood.
But there’s one aspect he can’t bear, and that’s the blind spot he sees when he thinks about the wedding plans he and Gideon have started to make. It’s as if this event, which he wants more than life, simply isn’t going to happen. He’s troubled and stressed out, and Gideon decides to intervene, whisking him off to an isolated creekside cabin in the mysterious Cornish ria country. All is peaceful there, and the clamour in Lee’s head subsides. It’s time for companionship, peace, good food and plenty of sex…
Then a young man wanders out of the woods and turns their blissed-out retreat into chaos. Kitto is harmless – a charming drifter, very handsome. To Gideon he’s just a kid, flesh and blood and a bit of a nuisance. But Lee reacts with horror. Since when can Gideon – Lee’s rock, his connection to the real world and sanity – see ghosts?
Mysterious midsummer is rising in the deep green Cornish countryside, and as the village gears up for the eerie Golowan festival, Lee and Gideon face their toughest case yet: a battle between the real and spirit worlds that threatens to tear their own apart.
Rain hit the glass overhead, a vibrant midsummer drum. Noise pitched and ebbed as crowds of tourists milled around the covered space.
These are the opening lines to Kitto the fourth in the Tyack and Frayne Mysteries and an example of why I love this author’s work so much. There is no word, metaphor or adjective that is extraneous to the final result. Her words not only invoke location but season and the atmosphere that will pervade the story. In this installment life, after the eviction of the malevolent spirit from Lee’s mind, is not idyllic. Gideon is waiting to hear if he can return to active duty in the police force and Lee seems to be going crazy planning their upcoming nuptials to the smallest detail. After a vision puts Lee once again in the role of unwilling hero and fodder for the press, a break to a small remote village with no mobile phone signal would seem to be a good idea.
However, after a very hot and sexy moment al fresco, they meet a beautiful strange young man called Kitto. Is this voyeur a lost boy in need of Gideon’s help or a lost soul in need of Lee’s. The answer becomes a bone of contention between our couple that needs resolution and the mystery unfolds. Again it is Harper Fox’s use of language which is the real star as in the example below where small details of authenticity transform the ordinary to the extraordinary,
At last Gideon could see the musicians. They emerged from their hiding places around the square, almost hidden behind the discs of their great crowdy-crawn drums.
Here she refers to the Cornish traditional drum made of a wooden circle with a skin stretched tight over the top and banged with a short stick. A small detail that transports the reader to the midsummer festival in remote Cornwall. I know the author has recently moved from Cornwall to Northumberland and look forward to seeing how the return to her home landscape will affect her writing but what for the very Cornish Tyack and Frayne, will they return?
Harper Fox’s fourth book in the Tyack/Frayne series does not disappoint. I tried hard, as I started reading it the other day, not to just wallow, but to think critically and to find weak writing, bad plotting, poor characterization.
Sorry, couldn’t. Fox has very clearly caught up with her mentor, the mythical Josh Lanyon. She has somehow taken the novella form and made it her own in this series. A couple of Fox’s previous shorter novels, stand-alones, have left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, but this four-part series, which will clearly be going on for a while, is as rich and substantial a read as I’ve ever encountered—and not just in the gay-lit realm. For fans of the new “Sherlock” series on television—Fox’s Tyack and Frayne series is every bit as good, and each new chapter just makes us want more. Plus, you know, they’re gay, and that matters to me.
In “Kitto,” Lee Tyack and Gideon Frayne are planning their wedding, and dreaming of the future. A hair-raising near-disaster at the very beginning (oh no, no slow starts for our Ms. Fox) makes Gideon decide to drag his Lee off to yet another isolated corner of the Cornish coast for some R&R. But you know that won’t work. No sooner are they settled in than they encounter a beautiful young man, the Kitto of the title, who seems to have the same sort of psychic powers that Lee does. But, needless to say, it’s not that simple.
With her glorious writing and powerful ability to make characters live and breathe, Fox explores the intensity of emotion that bonds Lee and Gid to one another, as well as the apparent psychic connection that has changed Gid’s perception of the world. As the story unfolds, it is not just the plot that happens around our guys, but a constant realignment and reassessment of their relationship. These men have only known each other for eight months, and are still learning each other’s details. Without ever being obvious or heavy-handed about it, Fox draws us into their very souls.
Even as Lee and Gid become ever more complex and lovable portraits of modern young gay men in small-town Cornwall, Fox gives us equally strong and appealing secondary characters whom we embrace happily. Regardless of his fairly minor role in the plot, Gideon’s humorless older brother Ezekiel manages to have a powerful presence in book four, and there are a few moments of such perspicacious wisdom that I came away with a very strong affection for this man, and with a sense of his increasingly easy efforts at embracing both his gay brother and his brother’s lover. Ms Fox allows us, with side glances and brilliant little details, to witness a well-trained religious homophobe gradually losing his prejudices and letting love rule his heart.
OK, that sounded fuzzy-headed, but the reality is that it’s hard to describe what Fox does without giving away plot.
Perhaps the greatest thing about these books is that, while short, they are fully developed and hugely satisfying to read. We don’t feel cheated by their shortness—only hungry for the next book. I confess that the slightly farcical ending seemed rather to come out of nowhere. But, clearly it was designed to be a set-up cliff-hanger for the next book. It was the one moment in the book where I could find no tie to the previous narrative (unless it was in the last book, and I’ve simply forgotten). But this small jarring note also offers the guarantee of more Tyack and Frayne, and that is a very good thing.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
Harper Fox has kindly offered 2 lucky commenters their own eCopy of Kitto.
Contest ends 4 July 2014 @ 11:59pm CDT.
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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