My Brother’s Keeper

MyBrothersKeeperTitle: My Brother’s Keeper
Author: Abigail Roux
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Mystery
Length: 157 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

THE BLURB

Someone is playing games in the wealthy suburbs of Miami, using the people of Coral Gables as their chess pieces and murder as their checkmate. When Reggie Bainbridge, the owner and director of The Country Club of Coral Gables, dies unexpectedly, his sons are left to deal with the aftermath: the daily operation of the Club and an unwelcome police investigation into his death. When the brothers realize that someone will be going down for old Reggie’s murder, they find themselves playing the game, wondering who to trust and trying to stay out of danger, even if it means playing the game to the end.

THE REVIEW

This clever little mystery certainly kept me guessing, but I found that the characterisation was sacrificed a little in favour of trickery and plot diversions.

The novella begins with a funeral.  The deceased being the father of Brayden Bainbridge and Addison (Sonny) Satterwight who died of acute kidney failure brought on by excess of drinking.  However, all is not as it seems and soon the police are knocking on the door of the exclusive country club now owned and run by the brothers.  It seems that Reginald Bainbridge did not die of alcohol consumption, but rather a lethal dose of anti-freeze which had been placed in his drink.  The two brothers are astounded and help the police as much as they can.  The two detectives, Morgan and Walker, then set out to discover who exactly would want Reginald Bainbridge dead.

I said at the start that this is a clever mystery and it was.  The police and the reader are led up and down the garden path until the startling revelations at the end.  It was almost impossible to work out the clues so I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.  Mystery fans will not be disappointed.

The book is written in the 3rd person omniscient so we don’t ever get the thoughts of the characters, only their actions, gestures and facial expressions.  This had two effects: Firstly we never know whether anyone is telling the truth, or if they are trying to hide something and, secondly, it produced a distance between me, the reader, and the characters.  As a result, I felt separated from any emotions that the characters might feel and never really felt that I got to grips with any of them.  I know that this was a deliberate act on the part of the author as the whole mystery would fall apart were we to know any of the internal thoughts of any of the characters, but I did then feel more of an observer to the book rather than a participant.  The whole feeling was as though I was watching a well crafted play being performed and the constant references to chess linked to that idea.  Each character had a role to play in the drama and were moved around on the ‘stage’ or ‘chessboard’ accordingly.

This separation between myself and any emotion in the characters meant that the sub-plot of the romance between Addison and his lover Micah fell flat.  They acted for most of the book like f**k buddies rather than two men in love.  Although there were a few hints and clues that they may have been more to each other than that, the main interaction between the pair was sex and so I was rather surprised when it turned out to be more than just ‘friends with benefits’.  I actually didn’t really like Addison very much either.  It would be difficult to go into much detail as to why without giving away too many spoilers, but he was far too smug and clever for his own good and I didn’t like the way he took advantage of nearly everyone and every situation in the book.

Despite the lack of connection between myself and the characters, I would still recommend My Brother’s Keeper.  I greatly enjoyed watching the mystery unfold and felt a lot of sympathy for the two police officers as they battled against polite obstruction from the brothers in their quest for the truth.  This was a great short read which I would recommend to those who enjoy a good mystery.

10 comments

  • Interesting about the POV. That was used by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett too. Definitely one suited to a mystery when everyone has secrets! I’ve seen it called a “cinematic” POV too, as just like a movie, you know what people are doing and saying, but not what they’re thinking and have to try to guess and judge that. I suppose in a murder mystery that sort of puts you in the position of detective and all the characters are suspects! 😀

    Reply
  • Jen
    I definitely would read this although I hate 3rd person omniscient which is very difficult to pull off, even for an experienced writer, because the reader never feels part of the story and therefore doesn’t become attached to the characters. However, this is why this is a successful strategy in mysteries. I remember well all of the Agatha Christie novels I read and loved and you never knew the thoughts of the principals even at the big “reveal.” I will definitely be reading this because I love a good mystery and I don’t need romance in a mystery.

    Reply
    • Hi Wave
      You are right in that the pov worked for this book. The mystery would have fallen apart if we had known what anyone was thinking.

      If I know that a story is going to be a mystery then I don’t expect any romance. Most mystery writers don’t have a romance sub-plot in their books (or if they do then it’s usually used to torture the protagonist). I think I just got confused because this is a DSP book and I was expecting some romance even though the blurb never mentions a hint of a romantic relationship. So I suppose my feelings about Addison and Micah’s relationship are coloured by my expectations based on reading many books by this publisher rather than it being a fault of the book or the author.

      Reply
  • Great review Jen. I remember reading the first 90 pages and wondering what the HELL the book was about? Then I was riveted when the mystery started unfolding. What’s interesting is that I didn’t really even consider the romance between Addison and Micah to be a romance. I even remembered thinking this wasn’t technically a GLBT category story.

    However the mystery is pretty clever and I was really glad to have read it for that alone.

    Reply
    • Hi Kassa
      I have to agree with you about the romance. In fact it wasn’t until I reached the last part of the book that I realised there *was* a romance. Perhaps I’ve ben a bit misleading in calling it a romance sub-plot.

      Reply
  • I like a good mystery so this might be worth it for that. If I can keep from reading the ending first. 😀 I don’t think I’ve ever read anything (well not recently) with that POV, might be interesting to see how it works for me.

    Reply
    • Tam: I didn’t actually notice the POV until I was a few pages in and thought ‘why does this book feel strange to read?’. Then I worked out it was because I wasn’t getting anyone’s internal thoughts. Once I’d cottoned onto that, then I found I slipped easily into reading the book, despite feeling the distance with the characters.

      Reply

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