A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This story had an interesting premise, but I had too many problems with the actual plot, and the writing style grated on my nerves.
The Blurb: Martin Proctor has been on the Boston Police Force for ten years. His record is impeccable and he’s helped his precinct and captain maintain one of the best crime records in the city. But no one knows Martin has premonitions which help him solve cases others find impossible.
Justin Franklin is also on the Boston force. Justin may not have supernatural abilities, but as an openly gay man, he possesses a courage that draws Martin in.
When Martin has a premonition about the death of Justin’s brother and fails to save him, their lives become intertwined. As they work together to discover the truth behind Larry’s murder, Martin foresees Justin’s death.
The closer they come to cracking their case, the less time Martin has to piece together his fragmented visions and save Justin before it’s too late.
The Review: If you take this book strictly as a mystery, it is actually not half bad. Two powerful men, whose motivations are comprehensible enough to be halfway realistic, are cooking up a conspiracy that will throw several dozen of underprivileged families out of their homes. Martin (and Justin) take the role of a brave David against an overwhelming Goliath who has even their captain tucking in his tail. Normally, I’m a sucker for this kind of storyline. Add in two hardboiled policemen who not only have the hots for each other but are courageous and emotionally un-impaired enough to own up to their mutual feelings, and the book should sweep me off my feet.
However, it didn’t. Instead, I found myself more and more irritated the farther I read – but why exactly it irked me so, I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I read it again (to the same result, by the way), but now I’m at least able to put my problems into words.
First, this book required a lot of suspension of disbelief from me, starting with the fact that Martin and Justin, as detectives, actually patroled the neighborhood. I admit I’m not an expert, but I found the fact that Detectives went on patrol slightly odd. I thought only “normal” officers did that? Then again, I’m not an insider on Boston PD procedure. At least the cases they dealt with sounded quite realistic.
Then, the assumed fact that Martin had been able to conceal his supernatural abilities from his former partner Kevin for ten years? Kevin must have been thicker than pudding not to figure out for ten whole years what Justin understood after a few days as Martin’s partner. What’s more, Kevin and Martin were described as “closer than brothers” – I couldn’t help asking myself, if they were so close where’s the trust?
Next, the whole clairvoyance thing in and of itself. Martin places a lot of reliance on his premonitions, to a point that I felt as if his whole proficiency as a policeman depended solely on them, like he took a premonition and then went about to match his findings to it.
Professionally speaking, both he and Justin did a lot of things that struck me as odd. Again, I’m not an expert in police procedure, but I don’t think interviewing a suspect – and a politically charged one at that – all alone, without even a recording device, can be proper protocol, to pick only one thing.
Speaking of investigating, there were some convenient jacks-in-boxes aside from Martin’s premonitions who helped solve the crime, like a mysterious informant called “Mouse” (whose identity remained hidden), a detailed diary entry or a slightly obtuse criminal who suddenly decided to listen to the voice of reason. Though serving as shortcuts, those little shenanigans alone wouldn’t have bothered me much, but in the context they added to my overall irritation.
The interactions, most of all those between Martin and Justin, were somewhat off, too, considering the acting characters are supposed to be grown men. With Justin and Martin, there is the whole mutual-attraction-on-first-sight trope, and they are both happy to have a new partner who is also gay so they can understand each other on an entirely different level, and they are investigating the murder of Justin’s brother which must put Justin under considerable emotional stress – I get that, I get it all. But the way they are spilling their respective guts to each other after only knowing each other for a few days appeared too much too early, especially given their stated backgrounds. And then, a minor omission on Martin’s side almost trashed their budding relationship as Justin blew it up to a major trust issue, which in turn threw Martin into the deepest black depths of self-loathing at the thought of losing his partner. To me, this read like a tempest in a teacup, pure drama-queen-ism and an artificial conflict that was completely gratuitous.
Anyway, the emotions. As the book is written from changing third-persons POV’s, the reader is partial to both heroes’ inner workings, immersed in them, actually, as both men are constantly in a considerable inner turmoil. Whatever emotion they feel is so deep, so shaking, it makes stomachs clench, heads spin and palms dampen. Like this for example:
Two hours and one report later, Justin was in a cab heading home. Exhausted, drained, and simmering with unexpressed fury, fi re seared directly into his veins. His muscles ached from he tension and shuddering, his fi sts clamped so tightly his nails cut into his palms.
Now, I like intense, emotionally charged scenes like the next reader. But when every single emotion causes the hero to clench his fists or makes bile rise in his throat, I find myself a bit overwhelmed. Like the proverbial boy crying “wolf” one time too many, this kind of “purple prose” (from lack of a better expression) gave me problems to differentiate between what was really crucial and what wasn’t.
Aside from some grammar lapses and parts of dialogue that sounded “written” instead of “spoken”, this is about the gist of my issues. As usual, my opinion is only my own; there may be readers who’ll overlook the facts that bothered me so, and they might enjoy this book or even love it. With me, it just didn’t agree.