Author: Michael Nava
Publisher: *Not Listed
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/01/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Thirty years ago, The Little Death introduced Henry Rios, a gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer who became the central figure in a celebrated seven novel series.
In a brilliant reimagination of The Little Death, Lay Your Sleeping Head retains all the complexity and elegance of the plot of the original novel but deepens the themes of personal alienation and erotic obsession that both honored the traditions of the American crime novel and turned them on their head.
Henry Rios, a gifted and humane lawyer driven to drink by professional failure and personal demons, meets a charming junky struggling to stay clean. He tells Rios an improbable tale of long-ago murders in his wealthy family. Rios is skeptical, but the erotic spark between them ignites an obsessive affair that ends only when the man’s body is discovered with a needle in his arm on the campus of a great California university.
Rios refuses to believe his lover’s death was an accidental overdose. His hunt for the killer takes him down San Francisco’s mean streets and into Nob Hill mansions where he uncovers the secrets behind a legendary California fortune and the reason the man he loved had to die.
If you’re into stories where the mystery is more important than the romance than this is the book for you. Michael Nava was one of the first writers using gay main characters back in the eighties. He’s redoing his Henry Rios books for a new audience and Lay Your Sleeping Head was a great read.
Henry Rios meets Hugh Paris just before quitting his job from burn-out but they meet up again later and Rios becomes embroiled in not just Paris’ life but also a mystery involving members of the San Franciso wealthy.
Nava is a superb writing who is great at setting a scene without overwhelming the reader. Often I was drawn into the story and could picture everything that was happening.
The mystery is intricate and Nava laid down the clues at the right spots to lead the reader deeper and deeper. The characters have a richness and depth that I don’t see that often.
The weakest point of the story is the romance between Hugh and Henry. They were more in lust than love, though I could see why Henry felt otherwise. But the romance isn’t the main focus here, it’s just a sub-plot to help engage the reader in the mystery.
As a lover of mysteries this was exactly what I was looking for and can’t wait for future installments of the Henry Rios novels.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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