Unspeakable Words (Jesse’s Review)

Title: Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense #1)
Author: Sarah Madison
Genre: Contemporary M/M, mystery/suspense, paranormal
Buy Link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Length: Novella  (164 PDF pages)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Summary Review: You will definitely have to suspend disbelief to enjoy this story.


Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult.

When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn… and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.

The Sixth Sense Series


The plot of Unspeakable Words is difficult to believe in a contemporary setting so I took the liberty of adding “paranormal.”

FBI Special Agent Jerry Parker was skillful and experienced at his job, as well as highly thought of by his superiors and colleagues, but he was always being pulled off his latest assignments just when they were getting interesting, never being given the opportunity to actually make the arrests, something he longed to do. He knew that he was valued for his research and investigative talents but he was tired of being re-assigned just when things were ramping up. It seemed that the department only valued him for his skills in one area, and he had been re-assigned more times than he could count. He had been overlooked for promotion several times because his interpersonal skills sucked and at this point in his career he was definitely feeling unloved. His latest meeting with his superior went along the same lines as always and his new assignment was to assist Special Agent John Flynn who was flying in to San Francisco that evening to start work on a cold case that was getting warm again, The Grimm’s Fairy Tale serial murders.

When Jerry met Agent Flynn at the airport he was everything Jerry aspired to be but didn’t have a hope of even coming close. Flynn was hot, charming, intelligent and it seemed he was  a golden boy who was going places in the department. He was also what Jerry didn’t want, a man he desired to be up and close and personal with but there was no chance of him making it to first base since Flynn was definitely straight. Flynn was Jerry ‘s opposite, a sportsman, former champion downhill skier until he busted his knee, and he was the type of man who would appeal to both men and women.

The first problem they encountered after Jerry picked him up at the airport was the location where Flynn was booked to stay, which was in the seediest part of town. After a short argument they decided that Flynn should stay at Jerry’s place for one night and the next day they would find him better accommodations. Jerry’s apartment was like the rest of his life, neutral shades and everything arranged precisely the way he liked it. He was all about order and balance and his apartment and life reflected this philosophy. He fancied himself as a chef but even his cooking showed what a fussy, finicky person he was, and how obsessive he was about neatness and details.

Flynn’s main reason for being in town was to interview a witness, a Mrs. Marsden, curator at the Weir, one of the smaller museums in the Bay Area, who claimed that she had vital information about the GFT murders. They set up an appointment the next day to get her statement but she rescheduled for that evening.  When they showed up at her place of work, they couldn’t find her and while they were looking around they touched a  small gray artifact that began to tip over. Flynn tried to grab it and caught it midair as it was falling. The artifact lit up with a brilliant blue-green glow that pulsed outward as some sort of energy wave danced up Flynn’s arms and enveloped him, giving him an electrical charge which caused him to collapse. As if Flynn’s injury wasn’t bad enough there was no interview, because when Flynn had recovered slightly from his mishap they found Mrs. Marsden. She had been murdered and arranged to look like the other victims. Was she killed by the serial killer or was someone using the killings to mask a different type of murder?

What I really liked was the character growth in the book. Jerry started out as a man who was uptight, prissy, overly precise, obsessive about neatness and still suffering from being cheated on by his ex, which made it difficult for him to trust. When Jerry met John Flynn everything changed – from his cat Oliver who hated John in the beginning but fell in love with him, just like his master –  to his obsessive compulsive behaviour which underwent a shift as he realized that there was more to life than being neat. The only thing that was important was to have Flynn in his life. John Flynn on the other hand started out not being open with Jerry about his past and a very important cold case in his life, but he moved the yardsticks as he became personally interested in Jerry as more than his partner in solving the GFT cold case.

Some aspects of the book were very amusing as Flynn played with Jerry and his obsessions, but you will have to experience them yourself as the guys work out their very unusual relationship. You’ll be surprised at the plot twists and turns of the book. Would you like Unspeakable Words? That depends …. on the extent to which you are willing to suspend disbelief

If you’re looking for a book with lots of sex you will be disappointed. There is sex but it’s in the end and that’s quite appropriate, considering that Flynn was straight when he met Jerry and it took them a while to get to know each other. The romance was helped by Flynn’s accident and you will have to read the book to find out why.

I enjoyed this book and the author’s imagination, but there were loose ends and the mystery was unresolved, so though I wanted to give it 4 stars I couldn’t and didn’t. I suspect that there might be a sequel to tie up all those loose ends. However it was very funny and the cats, (yes they ended up with 2), made for a lot of light relief. Unspeakable Words would be of interest to readers who are looking for something different in a contemporary story.

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  • This one would get 4 or 4.5 stars from me as the first entry in a paranormal detective series. I sure hope that’s what the author intends. I enjoyed the two characters very much and took the one dangling plot line at the end to be the mystery that would be continued on through to the sequel(s). The story and the writing remained fresh and surprising all the way to the end for me.

    • Hi Cary
      I enjoyed the characters and the way they developed. However I thought there was a lot that needed explanation in this story.

      First, the serial murders which received top billing in the blurb were a washout for me – they didn’t make sense and there was no resolution. Second, the artifact and the way it affected the two men was something else that I found incongruous. As Sirius said, the author was using external plot devices rather than the protagonists interacting, to resolve some of their issues which is the way it should happen.

      If you take the story from the beginning, starting with the hotel where Flynn was supposed to be staying, his intended destination was flashing like a neon signal. You knew that he would never stay at that flea bag hotel so why were we subjected to the long drive and all the police action in the neighbourhood rather than a more plausible set-up for Flynn to stay with Jerry?

      Last – the artifact – what can I say? Also Mrs. Marsden’s murder. We all knew where this was headed unless someone hasn’t watched any murder mysteries before, so finding her body was no mystery. Why all the preliminaries for a foregone conclusion other than to fatten the word count?

      In the end there was no resolution of the murder and no indication on the publisher’s site that this book was supposed to be the first one in a series, or even that there was an upcoming sequel.

      Those were some of the reasons why I could not give this story 4 stars.

  • Thanks for commenting Sirius.

    I tried not to say too much in the review (I thought I had said enough) :)I liked the interactions between the guys but the external plot devices the author used to get them together were a bit far fetched. First the hotel where Flynn was booked to stay just boggled my mind. How did he even KNOW about such a seedy run down place? Surely she could have come up with a better idea to get them in the same apartment? Second, the whole paranormal aspect was for the birds but it might work for some people, except for one thing, this is not listed as a paranormal story and if you don’t expect that important plot twist you will say WTF?

    Ad I said in the review, maybe Sarah Madison will write a sequel because the serial killer was not even mentioned in the latter part of the book and is presumably still at large. 🙁

  • See as you did I loved characters interactions LOVED and loved how they developed, but at the same time at least initially paranormal aspect jerked me out of the story really badly let’s just say. I had to reread it three times, when it happens just to make sure it was not a joke, that this is really happened. And then I kept asking myself, so would they have come to an understanding instead of bickering so fast if this did not happen? Am I making sense? It just felt that author used external plot device rather than characters interacting and just getting to know each other just because they ARE interacting.

    Oh and yes, I was like, um and who is the serial killer please!!!

    Wonderful review 🙂

  • Hmmm, I suppose if I were to approach this as a Gay For You romance with a mystery on the side for diversion, it would be less frustrating. Well done review Wave. You really gave us a good feel for the story’s pros and cons.

    • TJ

      Unfortunately the serial murders received top billing in the blurb and that was the reason I wanted to read the story. Like Buda, my mind is warped. lol However the serial murder investigation fizzled and the murders were unresolved – no perpetrators were caught so I was very frustrated.

      The GFY aspect was only because John had never been with a man before and that was done well I thought because they didn’t jump under the sheets immediately. The first kiss took place almost at the end of the book. Nicely done. Even though the cats were funny I’m a dog person. lol

      The only reason I thought there might be a sequel is because the murders were unresolved. This is the first book I have read by this author and the jury is still out. 🙁

      • You know me, Wave. I love a good serial killing. Er, serial killer book. Warped mind, indeed. Hmph!

        It seems there’s a lot going on in this book–GFY, murder/mystery, paranormal. I can’t decide if I’m intrigued or put off by the “blue-green glow” aspect.

        • Well, let’s say that I don’t think murder mysteries are this author’s forte, but that’s just me. You should avoid the “blue-green glow” at all costs. 🙂 I inserted paranormal as a theme because that’s the only way I can explain the story and if you read the book you’ll understand why. lol

          It’s a nice read – she writes well, there’s just a lot going on in 164 pages

  • I really liked the characters and their interaction but I found this book incredibly frustrating: you don’t get much of a resolution to the romance or to the mystery plot, which is a mess.
    I think Sarah Madison is an interesting writer, and I’ll certainly be curious about what she does next, but I think perhaps mystery isn’t her forte.

    • GR
      Like you, I did find the story frustrating because the mystery was unresolved. I liked the romance because, to me anyway, the HFN or somewhat ambiguous ending made sense given where Flynn was coming from. It would not have been reality if all of a sudden he was the best BF ever and I regard this as a GFY story with a realistic ending.

      One aspect that I found unbelievable was how the author manipulated the two guys into sharing Jerry’s apartment. Surely there were other, more logical ways to do so.
      You’re absolutely correct that mystery is perhaps not this writer’s forte, and I will leave it at that. 🙁

  • I just finished this last night and quite enjoyed it. I thought it was kind of telling that an author on Twitter yesterday was bemoaning the fact that a publisher she submitted a story too wanted to “sex it up” and she didn’t know if she felt comfortable doing that. And here is a story where the first kiss happens on page 147 of a 164 page book and I didn’t have a problem with it. Seeing the relationship develop with the touches of humour was very rewarding and I think if they had fallen into bed faster I would have been rolling my eyes at how easily a straight guy went for it.

    I would definitely read a sequel as they develop their relationship more.

    • Tam
      I enjoyed most of the story, especially the romance but the mystery left me cold because, as I said in the review, there were loose ends. I can’t say much more because if I do there might be too many spoilers.

      I’m one of the few M/M readers I think who can take the sex or leave it if the story and the characters are interesting. In this case it definitely made sense how the romance proceeded and I like the somewhat HFN ending.


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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