Title: Ash and Cinders (A Gabriel Church Tale, #3)
Author: Rodd Clark
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Release Date: 5th December, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery and Thriller
Page Count: 249 pages
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
“It’s just the devil’s share. When life evens itself out and every bad guy gets what’s coming to em’ . . . it’s one of the few balancing things life really offers.” Gabriel Church
Gabriel Church has done a bad, bad thing . . . and normally that doesn’t bother him too much. But everything changed when he met Christian Maxwell. Chris became his unholy grail. The thing he sought more than any other treasure, yet still a priceless pearl beyond his reach. Nothing he does seems to solidify any prospect of them being able to remain together, to live that happily-ever-after story. Even if he were to make a promise to stop his killing in the name of God, it would still only be a salty futility to wet and tempt his lips.
Christian Maxwell discovered a damaged soul inside Church, with a goodness plumbed somewhere below the visible surface. He saw pain shadowing his killer like some trailing footprint left moist in the sand. But he failed to recognize each victim, or the costs of every action the fugitive took for granted. He simply pushed those faceless victims to the dark recesses of his mind, hiding them from plain view as if they were discarded things, recollections intentionally forgotten.
The one thing Church knows with certainty is the writer is the only person who really knows him, and the only man other than himself who possibly understands where they are both headed. But life is about to get more twisted and dangerous. It begins with a backwards Deputy Sheriff and that same ill-fated chance that always prevented him from slowing down his pace or finding a peaceful place to rest with Chris Maxwell by his side.
This is the final installment in the Gabriel Church serial killer series.
Much of the first third of this story focuses on the thoughts of the main characters and their recollections of events that occurred previously and thus act as a sort of recap while the reader is made aware of Gabe’s and Christian’s current positions. The lovers are apart again because of Gabe’s murderous actions to protect Christian at the end of the previous story and it appears the CID special agent is getting closer to hunting them down.
We are also introduced to a new main character—a gay deputy sheriff with his own secrets—and it is clear he will have some bearing on Gabe’s destiny.
By the time the story reaches mid-way, things have started to happen that could spell disaster for Gabe. The book builds to an exciting climax where it appears all is lost for the separated lovers. Is the serial killer going to get what he deserves or is luck on his side? I was unsure how this story would unfold and be wrapped up, but I was rooting for these two guys who had broken the law. I wanted them to be together and find their happiness.
Rodd Clark has a distinctive style of narration. He writes in third person, yet gives the narrator an omniscient role too, so the reader is given information that the characters are not always privileged to receive or see the impact of a particular action on their future. We get to delve deep into the minds of the characters with many thoughts, considerations, and remembered past incidences that all have a bearing on the characters’ present position or response to a situation.
There was a lot I liked about this tale. The way Rodd gradually ramps up the tension and suspense is very well done, as is the way he has the reader empathizing with Gabe and Christian. The romance aspect of this story propels it forward. The conversations between Gabe and Christian, especially those on the telephone, are emotional and very moving at times. The love between these two guys is palpable and causes them to act the way they do.