The Back Porch Reader has flown the coop to soak up some tropic sun.
I’ll be back soon with new book reviews and recommendations. In the meantime, please enjoy this favorite selected from my GoodReads archives.
Dead women tell no tales.
Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.
Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still makes his blood sing.
Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
236 e-book pages
Murder and Mayhem, book 1
June 5-7, 2015
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
Click for more information regarding ratings.
This review originally posted on GoodReads June 7, 2015.
Murder and Mayhem is the 14th Rhys Ford book I’ve read – nine of which were devoured over six days. On some levels, I’m very easily entertained, but I also tend to be a relatively tough critic, and I don’t scatter high ratings like confetti. I’ve rated most of this authors work four and five stars and truly believe she’s earned every one of them because she consistently delivers on everything I look for in a book. It’s no surprise to me that she’s done it again.
Is the book well crafted? Yes. Among what I consider constitutes a “well crafted” book we’ve got a tight plot, strong characters, great dialogue, and it was well edited.
Is the plot believable or does it provide just enough elucidation to allow me to suspend disbelief of the world the author creates? Sure – it’s a murder mystery/suspense book, and I was along for the ride wherever it went. The romance part of it was there too – I can say I would have liked more one-on-one intimacy (the talking kind) between Rook and Dante. But what we were given felt real, and I liked it.
For Mystery/Suspense, how well does the author present the case and maintain the mystery? Well, I had an early and correct guess of who our culprit was – but it was only a guess based on absolutely nothing but my gut. I was pleasantly lead off-track and was kept guessing until the moment we all found out together. Kudos to Rhys for masterful detailing and incorporation of colorful suspects to keep the mystery alive.
Are the characters strongly developed? Do I want to know them or be them? Can I relate to them or respect them? Are the characters flawed in believable ways – can they/do they grow and learn and become better as the story moves along? Yes to all the above. I want to put Rook in my pocket and give him a squeeze from time to time because he just needs to catch up on hugs. I want a crazy colorful uncle Manny, and a grumpy grandpa Archie, and I think I’d like Dante to be my big brother just ‘cause he’s the solid sort who’d be good to have at my back.
Is the writing intelligently done? Absolutely – Rhys consistently delivers here. We get beautiful descriptions of our surroundings and the actions taking place. We get literary, movie, music, and cultural references to further illustrate her story. This, to me, is one of the hallmarks of a great author. She’s knowledgeable about the world and brings that to the reader by showing us what’s going on.
Does the plot advance at a good clip – is there continuous momentum? Yes – there are beautiful ebbs and flows, rises and falls, and rushes of adrenaline spiked action to keep the story moving. Thank goodness Rhys is a master of this too; she knows how to use words to conduct our journey through her worlds. We speed up, we slow down, we bend and curve but never are we treading water while she tries to get us to shore.
Does the author respect the intelligence of the reader (does not over simplify or overly explain)? Yes, thank you! She paints just enough of a picture to allow us to construct the story’s settings, characters, and emotions in our own minds without the superfluous detail that can be boring and tedious. And, every once in a while Rhys nestles a word in with her prose that forces me to use my Kindle Dictionary.
Does the author invoke the reader to laugh, cry, think, or feel? Yes – and bonus points are awarded here because that’s hard to do. Rhys has a wickedly awesome sense of humor and those nuggets are always perfectly placed and perfectly timed. Also, at least one of the MCs can be counted on to have a tragic or heartbreaking past. I want to just take them in and protect them from the mean old world because until Rhys found them and gave them to us they were the forgotten or horrifically abused.
More bonus points if the author is an artist with words and can bring a story to life with poetic imagery. Good God Almighty can Rhys do this! I’d give her five points for these examples alone.
To put us in a bubble of stench with Rook we get: “…an angry hornets’ nest of odors he couldn’t outrun…” Yep, I was right there with him with my nose scrunched up.
She brings life to emotion: “And his curiosity laughed its fool head off as it dumped him into another mess of trouble.”
Landscapes are painted with words to describe the places Rhys takes us: “Sitting like a misplaced mole on skid row’s temple, the brick building did its best to hide its flophouse origins but to no avail.”
In romance or erotica – are the sexy times hot? If they’re presented in graphic form are they necessary to the overall plot and character development? Oh yeah on both counts. Rhys can crank up the heat on a sex scene. The thing is, it’s not just about the heat – there’s intimacy here too that fuses her men together. And…just to fan-girl gush….I love, love, love all the gay guys Rhys brings to us. They’re all smokin’ hot on the outside with an inner strength (even if they don’t know it) and character that makes me want to be the Grace to their Will and Jack.
Since we all judge…how’s the cover? I think this is one of her best.
More extra credit for references to my favorite movie of all time and the aww moment for using it in the final words of this book.
Special Note: This book has been nominated for a 2016 Lambda Literary Award in the cateory of Gay Mystery. Winners will be announced in June.