Title: Son of a Gun (Second Edition)
Author: A.M. Riley
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (253 paperback pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Politics, drugs and secrets from the past collide in the town of Boerne Texas and end in a chase across the Devil’s Backbone.
Stefan Sanchez number one reason to leave Texas was closeted deputy Chet Blain. When Stefan returns for the funeral of his best friend, he is confronted by painful memories, Chet’s recriminations, and a hunky Secret Service agent who seems determined to make Stefan’s business his business.
If you’re looking for a book with lots of surprises and plot twists as well as political intrigue, drug cartels, money laundering and murder most foul, with a romantic sub text, Son of a Gun should fit the bill. This well written caper by A.M. Riley has a lot of unexpected revelations in the middle of all the ‘family togetherness,’ is almost like a spy or counter espionage thriller because of secrets and criminal activity, and is an adventure from start to finish, with a few hot, sexy Texans thrown into the mix to heighten the tension.
Stefan Sanchez, well known author of young adult crime fiction books, was going back to Texas from L.A. 7 years after he had left for good, to say goodbye to his best friend Tommy O’Connor. Tommy was the eldest son of a prestigious family that had taken Stefan in when his own father had been killed by government agents as a traitor. Tommy’s death had been ruled an accident but when Stefan arrived at the funeral he was surprised that his wife Sammy was nowhere around and no one knew her whereabouts. Rumours were swirling that Sammy may have had something to do with Tommy’s accident, but Stefan was even more confused when the Secret Service security at the funeral and the O’Connor residence seemed to be unusual, even for the funeral of the son of Patrick O’Connor, the Attorney General for the State of Texas.
After the funeral Stefan realized that it’s true what they say, you can’t go home again. He was under surveillance by the Secret Service, members of the O’Connor family seemed to be more stressed out than normal under the current circumstances, and no one had answers to the most simple questions like, where was the widow? If they did they weren’t talking. To complicate matters, his ex Chet, now a Deputy Sheriff, wanted Stefan back in his life, but he was just as closeted as before and couldn’t understand why Stefan didn’t want to be his “dirty little secret” any more. In the meantime Secret Service Agent Evans was always around and it wasn’t clear if Stefan was a suspect for a crime that had yet to be committed, or if Agent Evans was interested in Stefan for another reason.
Now that he was in Texas, Tommy’s voice was always in Stefan’s head with reminders of their youth, replaying past conversations on a continuous loop, and it felt to Stefan like he was guiding him and trying to help him solve his untimely accident, if that was what it was. At what seemed like Tommy’s urging, Stefan decided to investigate the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death and possible murder, and that was when he got into major trouble with the authorities. Were they hiding something for their own nefarious purposes or was there a simple explanation?
The focus of this story is on the investigation into the mystery of Tommy’s murder which brought to light past crimes that had been covered up decades ago. The list of suspects was long and I thought that the way the perpetrator was revealed was well done. There is a romance but it didn’t happen until about half way into the story and I liked that the author didn’t let one aspect overshadow the other. The pace of the story was fast as the investigation accelerated and then hit a dead end just when Stefan was close to making a breakthrough into solving the crime. There was a convenient arrest, political interference, and the requisite exciting chase with guns blazing.
Stefan’s character was at times hard to fathom because there were so many things going on in his life – his past with Chet whom he still loved, his friendship with Tommy, his characters Billy and Charlie in the book he was writing who were always running on a different track in the background and bore a strong resemblance to him and Tommy, and his relationships with members of the O’Connor family. All of this added up to a man who was complex, extremely loyal to past friends to the point of being blind to their flaws, and the last thing on his mind was his mother. The character of Tommy was lovingly drawn and cast just as big a shadow in death as in life – he was very much alive in the book through Stefan’s memories and those of his siblings and I thought that the author did a very good job bringing him into the story as someone who was three dimensional, and this helped to give Stefan’s character more depth and definition. Another character that I thought was pretty cool was Special Agent Evans because he was a dichotomy – a government drone who was also very funny, and he was effortlessly becoming a part of Stefan’s life. Patrick O’Connor was perhaps the most difficult character to get to know because he was such an enigma. I find that most politicians in books are of necessity people who have their own agendas which have nothing to do with the people they serve. Unfortunately I didn’t get to know as many of the other characters as I would have liked, because they didn’t have a lot of face time, but Stefan’s mother Agnes was sympathetically drawn.
If you like a good mystery with lots of action and a romantic sub text then Son of a Gun will definitely appeal to you. The State of Texas is almost another character in the book because of the way the characters and places were drawn. Tommy’s family would have made a wonderful soap opera because some of them were really crazy, like a fox. I really liked this story and definitely recommend it.