The Combat Zone (PIU’s Review)

The Combat Zone.Title: The Combat Zone (A Cody Harper Novel #1)
Author: Vincent Wilde
Publisher: Cleis Press
Release Date: 10th Jan, 2017
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller
Page Count : 240
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 0.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

From the underbelly of Boston’s officially sanctioned red-light district–The Combat Zone–to a neo-Nazi compound in the secluded mountains of New Hampshire, gay cross-dressing sleuth Cody Harper hunts a murderer. Cody is a man who enjoys wielding a whip as much as slipping into a silk chemise. When unrequited love interest Stephen Cross tells Cody about the death threats he’s received, Cody resorts to all the tricks in his make-up bag, including his drag persona, Desdemona, to protect his friend. A pious presidential candidate and members of an underground group called “Aryan America” stand in Cody’s way in this thrill ride of suspense and mystery.

Be warned people, this story is quite dark and does not end in an HEA. It revolves around a serial killer who likes to kill gay men and then mutilate them heinously.

Our main MC here is Cody Harper, a drag queen cum bodyguard cum sleuth. After an incident where he almost gets killed, he becomes good friends with Stephen Cross, a reporter. Cody has a crush on Stephen but anything further than that is out of the question as Stephen is in a committed relationship. When a serial killer starts killing off gay men in most gruesome ways, Stephen brings it under Cody’s notice as he reveals that he is being threatened by some unknown person himself. And then one night when Stephen gets snatched by the killer from right under everyone’s nose, Cody has to put his “sleuthing” hat on and track the killer if he wants to save his friend from ending up as another victim.

From the very start of the story, we get glimpses inside the killer’s mind as he keeps on killing gay men and leaving no clue behind other than his signature, a ‘swastika’ on the victim’s bodies. The build up till Stephen’s disappearance is done very nicely as Colt is introduced in all his unique glory. There are a quite a few suspects already lined up before Stephen is taken which adds to the overall mystery and danger of the plot.

This is a dark and gritty story which made me leave my kindle for a few minutes a couple of times before I could continue reading again. There are rape scenes and animal abuse which were quite cringe-worthy but was integral to the whole ‘crazy’ of the killer.

The ending had me bawling, so yeah, as I said don’t expect a proper HEA.

If you are not put off by violence and strong language, then go ahead and read this very engaging mystery/crime novel by Vincent Wilde.

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Review copy of The Combat Zone provided by Cleis Press in exchange of an honest review.

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