Title: Murder Above Fourth (Nick Fallon Investigation #3)
Author: J.P. Bowie
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, with a tiny bit of M/M/M thrown in
Length: Novel (238 pages); also ebook
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
Nick Fallon always knew there would be a day of reckoning between himself and Harold Forsythe, a millionaire who headed a secret group paying big bucks to watch young men and women have sex—sometimes dangerous sex, that had resulted in the deaths of two young men.
When one of the owners of ‘Above Fourth,’ a popular San Diego nightclub, is needlessly murdered, Nick vows to take Forsythe down, but in his determination to see the man behind bars, Nick throws caution to the wind. In a reckless and ultimately dangerous move, he not only puts his own life in jeopardy, but also the future of his relationship with his lover.
Nick Fallon Investigation Series
I didn’t care for this book. That said, I know this author has published many books and I suspect has many fans who will probably enjoy this novel much more than I did. So take my comments with a grain of salt.
My biggest problem with this book is that the blurb, above, is accurate—but—and this is a big but—the action described in the blurb doesn’t begin until about the two-thirds point of the story. This means that I spent a great deal of time reading “stuff” which ultimately didn’t have a whole lot to do with the plot. I’ve never read a book that was structured like this before and frankly, I didn’t like it, which is the reason for my low rating. As I said, others may disagree or not find this problematic and would have a very different assessment of the story.
The author includes characters who have appeared in previous stories: Peter Brandon, an artist, and his partner, Jeff Stevens, were in A Portrait of Philip. Nick Fallon is also featured in two other murder mysteries: A Deadly Deception and A Deadly Game. I haven’t read any of these and Murder Above Fourth was completely readable as a standalone, although there were occasional references to prior events. I suppose if I was totally enthralled with the characters I might go seek these books out, but I wasn’t, so I won’t.
The main characters are Peter and Jeff; Nick and Eric; and Gene, Chad, and Bill. Eric is the manager of Peter’s art gallery; Jeff and Nick work together as private investigators. Confused yet? I was. Gene, Chad, and Bill are partners in the nightclub, Above Fourth; they are also partners in life and love, which is where the smidgen of m/m/m comes in. Most of the sex scenes are between Nick and Eric, although slutty Bill has a few random encounters here and there. Then there’s the bad guy, Harold Forsythe, who has presidential aspirations, lots of money, and an unhealthy appetite for dangerous sex and (I think) snuff movies. He seems to be protected by the completely inept (or maybe corrupt) Chief Robertson of the police department. Why Robertson is covering for Forsythe isn’t really clear. Maybe he’s blackmailing him and this is a tidbit from an earlier story. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter.
The story opens with Chad buying a couple of Peter’s paintings from Eric; it ambles along from there with the characters doing things like going to work, going out to eat, having drinks, having sex, driving around, talking on the phone and on and on and on. Eventually, the above-referenced murder occurs and the plot moves into high-gear with a mostly preposterous and completely implausible hostage situation. Things happen, there is a bit of tension and drama and then, the end, and almost everyone’s happy, except of course for Forsythe and the dead guy (and he’s not talking! LOL).
There were a couple of female characters and I kept hoping that one of them would have sex so I would have an excuse to not finish the book and review it here at Wave’s site. Alas, I wasn’t so lucky and I pressed on until the end.
As I said, this was a very unsatisfying read for me. Others may totally disagree. If you are a fan of this author, you will probably enjoy this book, since it reintroduces familiar characters and moves their lives along. If J.P. Bowie is new to you, I’d suggest reading an excerpt, such as the one that can be found here; this gives a good flavor of his writing style and you can decide if you want to give this book a go, in spite of my less-than-enthusiastic review.