Title & Link:
Author: Haley Walsh
Cover Artist: Deana C Jamroz
Buy Link (Kindle): Foxe Tail (A Skyler Foxe Mystery)
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Novel, 288 pages (79,000+ words)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: A promising start to a fun and funny new mystery series featuring a gay high school English Literature teacher. I’m already looking forward to book 2.
***This review contains what might be considered spoilers.***
Gay teacher Skyler Foxe thought teaching English Lit was murder. Wait till he falls into the real thing.
Skyler Foxe is a brand new English teacher in his hometown of Redlands, CA. He loves literature, loves his students, loves his friends, especially his best friend Detective Sidney Feldman. But he doesn’t love keeping his orientation a secret, afraid of the backlash in this conservative county. But will murder thrust him into unwanted limelight? Who killed his principal’s son outside a gay dance club? And what’s the connection to James Polk High? Is the macho football coach or his mysterious and gorgeous new assistant coach involved? Can Skyler trust anyone at the high school when there seems to be conspiracies around every corner?
Skyler Foxe is rather desperately trying to get his 10th grade English Literature class interested in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when, out the classroom window, he sees his beloved new car being bashed to hell with a Louisville Slugger by his latest trick. (To be fair, the car is a Volkswagen New Beetle, so it had it coming!) Rodolfo is, quite obviously, pissed because Skyler won’t answer or return his phone calls. This is just the beginning for poor Skyler, but it is a great example of how fun this book is to read:
Skyler glanced helplessly back to the window before taking Rodolfo’s arm and steering him behind the battered Bug. “Look, we had a good time for a few nights but now it’s over, okay? I never promised you anything.”
“Oh yeah? That’s not how I remember it, Sky-ler.”
“Well that’s the way it was… And now you broke my fucking car!“
“Hmph. A car is nothing compared to the heart.”
“I’m gong to rip yours out,” Skyler said between clenched teeth. “And my car isn’t nothing. Do you know how long I saved up for a down payment?”
Skyler lives in the Inland Empire area of California, about which I know absolutely nothing, but it must be something similar to the Bible Belt of the Midwest (about which I know entirely too much), with its closed-minded views about homosexuality. Our closeted-at-work hero is afraid this little stunt of Rodolfo’s will cost him his job.
The next night, Skyler and his best friend, Sidney, a detective on the local police force, go for a night out at a bar in San Bernardino. After hours of dancing, Skyler steps out the back door for some fresh air and discovers an obviously-murdered dead body. Not just any random dead guy, but Wesley Sherman, the son of his high school principal. He accompanies Sidney to tell Mr Sherman about finding his son’s body, feeling he owes it to the man to hear the news from someone he knows.
Skyler, despite repeated warnings from Sidney, cannot get the murdered boy out of his mind and begins his own clumsy investigation. His discoveries lead to more questions than answers, most of which are left as loose threads to be (hopefully) tied up in the upcoming books. The mystery of the murdered Sherman is solved by the end of this book, though.
The characters in this book are beautifully drawn and the humor is quick and witty. Skyler is a trip, with lots of issues and a generous sense of humor. His friends, Jamie, Philip and Sidney are all well drawn and the interaction between them all is comfortable and believable. Both Philip and Jamie are former tricks of Skyler’s who somehow managed to morph into friends. The three of them have formed the Skyler Fuck Club and, over Philip’s loudly-voiced objections, Rodolfo is inducted into the group.
Keith Fletcher, the possible romantic interest for Skyler, is an interesting character. I have my own theories about him, but we’ll all have to read the next books to find out what his deal is. He runs warm (friendly) and cold (avoiding Skyler), but never hot. If I had a main disappointment about the book (aside from the identity of the killer), it would have to be the lack of romantic involvement for Skyler (and no, I’m not counting the one-nighter with He of the Many Piercings). Still, with the frustration levels I was feeling by the end of this book, when/if Keith and Skyler get together, it will be explosive–at least, it had better be!
There is a nice side story about Alex Ryan, one of Skyler’s students. He has some anger issues, which Skyler tries to help him resolve by getting him accepted onto the football team. (Considering the story starts in October, I wasn’t sure how that worked. When I was in high school, first practices began at the end of July and the season was over by late November. Perhaps it works differently in California.)
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed following Skyler on his exploits, both in sleuthing and teaching. Foxe Tail is an easy, fun read with very little angst. If you can possibly make room in your Series Followed list, I highly recommend this book.