Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Goodreads review of OT

I got 3 Stars...and some of the criticism is valid. You learn as you go...

This was a pretty intense story that I liked for the most part subject to a couple issues. It’s a mystery as the title indicates and our MC Jake’s Uncle Owen is missing. He receives information from various sources, some even anonymously, and heads to Palm Springs to see what’s going on.

From the beginning I felt like I was dropped in the middle of movie where I missed the beginning and character descriptions. But that was okay, because the relationships Jake has with his family and friends is so interesting I was ready to go with what I had because the writing was so good. Jake’s background is wonderfully diverse and complex and explains so much about him as a person. His relationship with his lover Antony is equally complex, the background of which we learn the basics of but most of it occurred before the events of this book. On one hand it annoyed me as at times the tension was so thick I wanted to know why, but on the other hand I was glad the relationship didn’t take over the story and I was happy when it moved back to the mystery.

The author is a gifted mystery writer who doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence by writing as if the reader can’t keep up. He adds plenty of naturally occurring twists and turns interspaced by Jake’s personal drama in such a relatable way. The story doesn’t get stuck on either the mystery or the relationships, things are always moving and I was never bored.

While the mystery was complex, it was also very dark. Overt homophobia is rampant in Palm Springs with crooked cops, attorneys, government, banks, and churches making the lives of the gay community unbelievable hard. There is on page violent gay bashing and sexual assault (though the on page assault is far less obvious then the flashbacks). But the author expertly keeps the story from becoming a depressing slog under the weight of the homophobia. No matter what happens, Jake keeps moving forward. He doesn’t mope, or throw a pity party, he jumps right back in without missing a beat. And when that moment comes later in the story, that moment when Jake has had enough and explodes, it was beautiful to watch and worth the wait. I knew he had it in him felt the shift in the story when he finally found his voice.

As much as I loved it when Jake finally fought back, he never stops being angry. I understood it but grew tired of it. The last fourth of the book was almost in a loop, a homophobic event, Jake strikes out, people cave, a short time, a homophobic event, Jake strikes out, people cave, rinse and repeat. Over and over and over. It became exhausting to read and the continual anger lost its power after a while.

And then there is the problem that is more a me thing than anything. Rape hovers over the entire story. Jake’s flashbacks to his time in prison, the rape and murder of a man, and later an on page assault (though stopped). Rape is something I’m highly sensitive to, and felt it was overdone. Knowing what Jake went through in prison is useful in understanding how he operates, but I saw no benefit to the play by play showing of it in his flashbacks.

For the most part I liked it. Jake is fascinating and the mystery tight. Just a couple things kept me from loving it. Definitely a book to consider for gay mystery lovers.

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