The Slow Road to Hell (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)


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Title: The Slow Road to Hell: A Gay Murder Mystery
Author: Grant Atherton
Publisher: Self-Published
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
Blurb:

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.

rollercoaster

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.

nausea~love crying~nausea~love crying~nausea

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.

This review is cross-posted at Goodreads. Other reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be read here.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of The Slow Road to Hell: A Gay Murder Mystery provided by Grant Atherton in exchange of an honest review.

Author

I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.

~~wink-wink~~

My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

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