Title: Second You Sin (A Kevin Connor Mystery #2)
Author: Scott Sherman
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Buy Link: Amazon.com;
Genre: Gay Mystery
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This story features Kevin Connor getting involved in another murder investigation and his relationship with his “semiboyfriend” is going somewhere. I enjoyed the characters, but thought that the mystery was weak and predictable somewhere in the middle of the book.
Someone is killing New York City’s hottest male prostitutes, and it’s up to full-time call boy, part-time sleuth Kevin Connor to find out who. With his spectacular boy-next-door looks, quick wit, and ability to role-play even the most outrageous scenarios, Kevin is facing his most challenging position yet—to stop a ruthless killer.
As Kevin begins his investigation, there’s no shortage of possible suspects or motives. Could the killer be a sadistic head case with a deadly fetish? A high-profile celebrity worried that his biggest secret might get out? Or perhaps it’s a right-wing politician, guilty of protesting too much from his pious and unforgiving soapbox. As Kevin gets closer to the truth, he’ll find himself trapped in a scandalous web of secrets where the line between victim and predator blurs, and no sin goes unpunished…
A Kevin Connor Mystery Series
Second You Sin is the sequel to First You Fall, winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Mystery and a book I loved (and haven’t reviewed because I misplaced my copy, it is now out of print, not available in Kindle format and I do not want to re-buy it in print for a bazillion dollars). First You Fall introduced adorable hustler Kevin Connor with a Jewish mother to die for and friends who love him. While you need not read that first book to understand what is happening in this one (Kevin makes some references to the events in First You Fall, but I do not believe that any of them are confusing), I highly recommend it to get the background on Kevin and his closeted “semi boy friend” Tony and because it is such a good story. When I saw the sequel was finally out, I could not wait to read about Kevin’s new adventures and I bought it right away. The writing was definitely just as crisp and beautiful in my opinion, and in some ways it fulfilled my expectations, but in others fell short of them.
Kevin is a hustler who gets paid a lot to fulfill his clients’ most interesting desires. He loves his job, which is not surprising considering the fact that at times it felt to me that he was more like a psychologist with some sex thereafter, but what he really wants to do is to settle down with Tony. Strangely, the definition of “settle down” for Kevin does not include giving up his job, which I thought it was kind of amusing and hypocritical since Kevin is so insistent on Tony leaving his closet. While I am very often extremely sympathetic to characters who find it hard to leave the closet, I wanted to smack Tony — and more than once — and I thought he behaved kind of like an ass. But I thought that Kevin was being extremely hypocritical through most part of the book as well, and I was very happy to see that he owned up to his hypocrisy.
Kevin is a really awesome character — funny, opinionated and very smart — and he comes alive on pages. If you are like me, I think you may wonder about a hustler who did not even finish college being that intelligent and opinionated, but the writing is so good that when you are reading this story, you just go with the flow. At least I did, of course as always your mileage may wary.
Here is one example of Kevin’s narration for you:
“My years of gymnastics training had made me limber and strong. I’ve also studied Krav Maga, the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces. I can strike silently, stealthily and fast. I had that chicken finger out of Freddy’s hand before he even saw me move.”
I was very happy with the development of Kevin and Tony’s relationship at the end of the book and I hope if the next book will be written, we will actually see it. The book is definitely not a romance though, it is a gay mystery with the love story thrown in.
This author surely knows how to create secondary characters who are not just talking heads, but who are “people” in their own right. Kevin’s mother was a comedic treasure in the first book and she is just as awesome in this one. But she is only one of many secondary characters whom I loved, and even some of those who had tiny parts were memorable.
As I mentioned above, the story fell a bit short of my expectations. I wanted further character development (which I got, even if it highlighted some character flaws for me) and a good mystery. Unfortunately, I did not feel that mystery was nearly as good as the first book, and I would go as far as to say that it was pretty weak.
Related to this, I thought that the book was extremely political, which is something I usually enjoy a lot, but while I agreed with every argument Kevin made and was angry with him every time he got angry, sometimes I thought that the politics could have been handled with more subtlety. When I say with more subtlety, I do not mean that I thought it was too much; I meant that the politics for me sometimes got in the way of the mystery and made it extremely easy to guess the villain. Unless the author’s specific purpose was to write about politics and only make the mystery a memorable decorum, he did not really try to hide the bad guy starting around the middle of the book. The first suspect was almost it (cannot explain more without spoilers), and the only investigation Kevin does, when he actually finally starts investigating, is basically to confirm or deny this only suspect, which he did not even come up with (somebody else suggests the name). Other readers may find the mystery more engaging.
The editing seemed pretty clean to me, however at least twice I spotted characters changing their names and talking to themselves during the same dialogue. Because I always make adjustments for the fact that I miss typos, it means there could be more editing errors.
Despite my few issues, I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Recommended