The Little Death

Title: The Little Death
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover artist: Dan Skinner/Cerberus Inc
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Buy Link Amazon:
Genre: gay mystery with  romantic elements
Length: Novella/128 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: An excellent dark and gritty mystery, which made the most of the page space available. I loved the main character, but he is not an easy man to love. 🙂

Blurb:

Jake Falconer, a hard-boiled detective in Echo City, is struggling with his love of booze, a square ex (and a cop, no less) he can’t get over, and a murdered partner. In sashays Sloane, an homme fatal whose twin brother has gone missing. The search leads them to a sex club used for blackmailing the city’s most powerful, and soon Jake finds himself hip deep in sex and danger—it’s a good thing he’s no stranger to slogging through either

Review:

The Little Death invoked noir movies imagery for me right from the beginning when private dick Jake Falconer (yes, because of his last name too of course) starts narrating his story. Those of you who are reading the Infected series by this author would know not to expect a fluffy story. Heck, I have not read the Infected books (but plenty of spoilers about it, lol) and I knew not to expect warm fuzzies. The atmosphere in Echo City is described as very dark, and while Jake is not in a very happy mood for the most of the time, I did not see a reason to distrust his descriptions of matters unrelated to the mystery itself. He describes the city as “Everything in this city was dying, some of it slower than others, but in the end it was all bones and ashes.” We can see at the end that some changes for the better may come, but it is by no means a guarantee.

Jake, for my money, was an awesome character. As I said, he invoked all the associations with private detectives from old movies, but at the same time he makes fun of himself because of it and I liked that.

“I know it’s all a cliché; the hard-drinking detective with the run-down office and a lifetime of regrets and bad luck propping up his spine, but far be it from me to bust a cliché”.

Jake is a functioning alcoholic, who at first glance is your typical smartass detective, but the author slowly but surely shows us Jake’s layers, and of course the most we see it in is the relationship with his ex, policeman Kyle. Again, it may feel just as another cliché — the pairing of a private detective and a cop — but for me it made for an absorbing read. Maybe because when we see the guys interacting they have already broken up, but it is so obviously, painfully clear to anybody (or at least to me :)) that they still care for each other very much and that they both have plenty of regrets. And we actually hear it, but are not given an overdose of angst, in my opinion anyway. While Jake jumps of page almost right away, I do wish we could have learned more about Kyle, who I thought needed a little more fleshing out.

Having said this, the strong connection between Jake and Kyle, while important for the plot, is definitely a secondary storyline , with the mystery in the first row here. Again, let me repeat, this is a mystery first and foremost and I loved it that way.  I really enjoyed the set up and resolution of the mystery. Even some of my most favorite authors can lack presenting a credible mystery and/or it is easy enough for me to figure out who the villain is when the story is not very long. I actually thought that the resolution here was quite clever. I thought I knew what was happening here and Jake suspects foul play quite early in the story, but I most certainly never suspected what the real set up was.

I also appreciated that Jake does a lot of investigation here; surprisingly I have read mystery stories where the main character does not do too much of actual investigating — apparently talking to witnesses is something not many authors think their character should do. I really valued the process here, even if, according to the laws of the genre, the detective does not figure it out until the story is close to the end. What I also appreciated is that I did not figure it out before the narrator did. It is a very frustrating feeling when you want to scream at the character and tell him, “look, here is the solution!” I enjoyed that the author did not tip her hand too early. But that was just me, and maybe you will figure it out much faster than I did.

Finally, I liked the pacing in this story as well, and I loved that the author did not cheat me out of couple great action scenes. I loved it.

The only reason this story gets 4.75 stars and not 5 is because I am wondering now whether the ending was too much of a surprise in a sense. I know that is in contradiction to what I said above, but sometimes too much of a surprise is not a good thing. You know how when the great mystery is done, you can look back and say “AHA” because there the clues are all there? I was not able to do that here; I am not sure I saw any foreshadowing as to the very final revelation, but I may be wrong. I cannot say more without spoilers, but I will be very interested to hear what those of you who read it think.

The possibility of series is left open, but honestly despite wanting to hear about Jake and Kyle again, I would much rather this one stayed a stand alone.  Mostly because I do not want those two to go the road of Roan and his partner from Infected. We shall see. Obviously I am just expressing my wishes as a reader, which do not translate in dictating the writer what to write.

Highly recommended.

12 comments

  • I adore the ‘infected’ series and think it is all about the relationships but it is not an m/m romance as such. I wouldn’t have thought of the Dresden Files as a comparison but it makes sense except that Roan is not as alone as Harry is. Roan is loved and loves in return but I read as much for his relationship with his lion as anything else. Where that is going is scary-fascinating.

    Reply
    • I hope one day I will get rid myself of feeling (and it is wierd and I am not sure even entirely rational on my part) that Dreamspinner cheated when they published these series so to speak and will be able to read it.

      Reply
  • Well, it sounds interesting as I love a great mystery novel, especially in the noir vein. But I’d have to know if there’s a happy ending. Do they get together again or find happiness? Can’t abide a melancholy ending.

    Reply
  • This story convinced me to finally read Infected (I too have read a ton of spoilers earlier ~_^). I absolutely loved it, but it seems people expected romance where there was hardly any.

    Reply
    • Hi LadyM, sorry I am confused. You mean there was hardly any romance in Infected? Then we read different spoilers :). Or you mean hardly any romance here? If so, I would agree, but for me whatever little of love story was in this one was ten times more powerful than in many romances that I have read. That Jake’s confession that even though Kyle did not know he had tried to be ambitious for him (paraphrase) just was so poignant for me.

      I am still not reading Infected. When I see that Roan is allowed some sort of happiness in his personal affairs, I will do so. Maybe that means never :). It frustrates me, really, because usually when I know the writing is excellent, I often try to ignore whatever reservations I have about the endings and stuff and this author clearly can write very very well IMO. But I was thinking about it, trying to figure out why I am reluctant and I think it is because Dreamspinner published it originally, you know? I mean, I know now that they mismarket the books on the regular basis and seem to make no apologies for it, but I was naive back then and thought that romantic urban fantasy is not something that publisher of romance will publish. I know I said it many times, but I want to say it again. I adore Harry Dresden, but I give his chances of surviving the end of the series 50/50 at best, same with some other urbam fantasy series. I want MM to spread out and not to be called just romance, I would be delighted to read more and more romantic gay mysteries, historicals that have love stories that may not end well, etc. But Infected was so so not what I would expect romance publisher to publish. Even though I hear and I am sure that those are terrific series. Hope my rambling makes sense and thanks for commenting.

      Reply
      • Yes, I’m sorry for the confusion, I meant that there was very little romance in The Little Death.

        I felt the same way as you about Infected, but I liked this one so much that I had to read it afterwards and because I was prepared for those events, I didn’t take it as hard as other readers. I think my rating (4-5-4 for all three parts) says clearly how much I liked it. The forth part is currently in the hands of editors, so I hope you’ll have a more clear answer about Roan’s future soon. But, I am encouraging you to read it nonetheless.

        Ha! Another Dresden fan! The series is SO addictive. Well, he will survive at least another 7-8 novels. The Apocalypse trilogy afterwards might be hazardous for his health. 😀

        Reply
  • Nice review Sirius, I’d been wondering about this one. I really like(d) Infected. The author seems to have a talent for making flawed heroes endearing to readers.

    Reply
    • Hi Denni, I totally agree. I hope you will like Jake as much as I did, but as I said, beware he is not an easy man to like 🙂

      Please let me know your thoughts if you decide to give the book a try.

      Reply
  • I’m not familiar with this author but I am interested in this story after reading your review. Think I’ll check this one out before “Infected”, I’m a sucker for cops and mysteries!

    Reply
    • Hi rdafan, I think this one will give you a pretty good indication of whether this author’s style is your cup of tea or not. Please consider coming back and letting us know whether you liked it.

      Reply

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