Title: The Slow Road to Hell: A Gay Murder Mystery
Author: Grant Atherton
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Page Count: 235 pages
Reviewed by: NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Forensic Psychologist Michael MacGregor returns to his old home town when his estranged father, the local priest, is murdered in the first of a series of killings. Nathan Quarryman, the lover he walked out on years before and now the local Chief of Police, is tasked with investigating the crimes. The two men must find a way to settle their differences, repair their broken relationship, and work together to bring the killer to justice.
An Evocative Rollercoaster Ride
I am so tied up in knots right now it’s not even funny. The angst and the feels, the angst and the feels, up, down, twist, down, up, and down again. Maybe my whodunit brain cells were broken, but the villain turned out to be at the bottom of my list of three suspects so … for me, the mystery was successful. The relationship … my gods. I felt like I was on an exhilaratingly terrifying rollercoaster the whole time. Take a look at these faces, you’ll see what I mean. Clockwise from top right: relief, anguish, terror, and happiness. Mm-hmm. That about sums it up.
The pacing in this book was great. There weren’t any lags and nothing seemed rushed either. To be honest, Mikey wasn’t a very likable character. Putting aside his failed relationships and history of self-sabotaging those relationships in a most flagrant way, I continually got the feeling that he was weak of character, too. I’m not saying he was a total douche … maybe. I can imagine his upbringing left a lot to be desired, but he seemed too quick to jump to conclusions and otherwise scarper for someone who was a trained forensic psychologist and profiler.
Then again, who knows what that’s like when your emotions are involved in a situation. Perhaps objectivity goes out the window and you truly are blinded enough to ignore what skills that should be muscle memory are telling you. Sigh. I don’t know. Nathan seemed to be similarly handicapped and clueless, I mean, seriously, what was that shit with Brandon? None of that particular situation was explained, at least not to my satisfaction. I realize the romance in this one was slow-going. In fact, there wasn’t much steam at all, but the chemistry was intense and there was so much unresolved hope for more.
Was Nathan—who had thus far been mostly in the right—being a hypocrite and double dipping? If so, that was unforgivably wishy-washy, but I’m only speculating now. Just goes to show you, the whole damn thing was a wicked ride, and at the end … well, I feel nauseous. That doesn’t seem very flattering on its face, but I don’t mean it in a bad way necessarily. I also kind of wanna love-cry at the same time.
As much as I enjoyed it, I feel cheated by the ending. Thus the clenching in my gut. Things are unresolved as far as I’m concerned, and I resent it even though I understand it. I don’t know if the author plans a follow-on or not, but I certainly hope so. This wasn’t necessarily a cliffhanger, but I feel that there are so, so many things left hanging in the relationship that I can’t find my way clear to decide whether this book was so good I was invested to the point of illness when it ended, or if that’s disappointment roiling in my belly. I suppose if nothing else can be said of this book, it definitely made me feel pretty intensely about a great many things along the way.
I would read another title by this author tomorrow. I guess time will tell whether or not we get more of Mikey and Nathan or if Mr. Atherton will move on to other things. I would have given this book 4 stars, but I just can’t get past the ending, so it gets 3.5 instead.
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