Title: A Deadly Deception A Deadly Deception (Nick Fallon Investigation #2)
Author: J.P. Bowie
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Murder Mystery/Paranormal Lite
Length: Novel (281 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: The second Nick Fallon Investigation book delivers once again.
Some things are not always what they appear to be. So Nick Fallon discovers when he is hired to investigate the death of a young man whose body is found buried in a wooded canyon area of Los Angeles. Not that he’s surprised. After ten years in law enforcement, Nick is pretty much used to the unexpected. However, he soon becomes frustrated by the bizarre behavior of his client, John Hammond, and the apparent indiscretion of his business partner, Jeff Stevens.
Nick’s investigation leads him to a gay bar in LA, and from there to the still recovering city of New Orleans where he finds what appear to be the answers to the mystery. But what he has unraveled is only a small part of the truth. What remains is even more terrible—a trap, where the price of pleasure is death.
Along the way, Nick is reminded of the often-high cost of friendship, and that trust and honesty are essential elements in any relationship—be it friend, or lover.
Nick Fallon Investigation Series
Originally self-published in 2007 and re-released by MLR Press in July of this year, A Deadly Deception is the second book in the Nick Fallon Investigation series. It follows A Deadly Game, which I reviewed last week here. As I mentioned in my review for ADG, this series continues this author’s five-book Portrait series, and in particular, the characters of Jeff and Peter play larger roles here than in ADG, especially Peter as Nick uses his psychic ability to help the case along. Though it would be helpful to have read ADG, one could pick this up as a standalone as the plots are different. As I also mentioned, I do plan on going back to pick up the other books to read the backstories.
The story is set six months after the end of ADG, and picks up when Nick is hired by John Hammond to look into the death of a man with whom he was supposed to have a date, but never showed. The body has turned up three months later and now John wants to know what happened. Nick takes it on, but soon his client’s erratic and bizarre behavior has Nick not only questioning whether or not he wants to continue the investigation, but whether he can keep from punching the guy in the nose. Adding to challenges is the lead LAPD detective on the case, the homophobic and grumpy Morales, who wouldn’t know gratitude if it bit him in the butt, even when Nick continually makes headway into Morales’ case. In the meantime, Jeff and his partner Peter are having difficulties, the circumstances of which bleed over into the case. The investigation takes Nick from sunny LA to still-Katrina-ravaged New Orleans and back, and what he is uncovering along the way is some of the worst he’s experienced in his career.
Nick Fallon is back in the second installment of the series, getting himself into trouble, pissing people off and trying to solve a mystery with no one telling him the truth. I continue to like this risk-taking, at-times ornery character, and was engaged by this well-written tale. I thought the mystery was complex enough that even though the story is once again told omnisciently and we get some clues along the way, there were parts of the reveal that I hadn’t suspected. It’s not action-packed as ADG, which was fine as it focuses more on them trying to find the whoidunit of it all.
We spend quite a bit more time with Jeff and Peter, Nick’s PI partner and Eric’s boss at the art gallery respectively, so those of us who haven’t read about them in multiple books get to know them better and live through a somewhat difficult time with them (more on this later). Also, readers of the Portrait series will already be aware of Peter’s psychic abilities, but as I haven’t read those books yet, I didn’t and it came as somewhat of a surprise when Nick asked him to assist him with the case.
For other secondary characters, Detective Morales, “a typical, ignorant, bigoted asshole, who shouldn’t be in law enforcement,” rubbed me the wrong way as he did most people he came in contact with, which I am sure is what the author intended. Also, I knew there was something off about Nick’s client John Hammond, and it was interesting to watch as it all unfolds and we see his whole, odd, manipulative character.
My favorite secondary character of this book was New Orleans drag queen Lynn Oleum, who even with few scenes, jumped off the page for me both in and out of costume. Speaking of which, it was interesting for me to begin writing this review on the fifth anniversary of Katrina as the story has us visiting New Orleans with Nick a little more than a year after the hurricane when things were still at its worst. Squatters, destruction, rats, chaos, loopholed insurance policies all make appearances as Nick tried to locate his person of interest.
The story is left wide open and actually is set up for a sequel, which is already out (Murder Above Fourth was released by MLR in December of last year and reviewed here by Leslie). I have just begun to read it.
My only niggle:
I thought the subplot of Jeff and Peter’s relationship problems took up maybe too much of the story. This may be to readers’ tastes and others may not feel this way. Additionally, I felt that Peter’s initial reaction to what Jeff did seemed a bit melodramatic and overly emotional than it should have been, perhaps. Again, something subjective.
Fans of the author and this series (and the Portrait series), as well as those who like murder mysteries would most likely enjoy this book very much.