Title: Let’s Get Criminal (Nick Hoffman #1)
Author: Lev Raphael
Publisher: ReQueered Tales
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: Kristin F.
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5
A Nick Hoffman / Academic Mystery, Book 1
Nick Hoffman has everything he has ever wanted: a teaching job, a nice house, and a solid relationship with his lover, Stefan Borowski, a brilliant novelist and the Michiganopolis University’s writer in residence. But when Perry Cross shows up, Nick’s peace of mind is shattered. Not only does he have to share his office with the nefarious Perry, who managed to weasel his way into a tenured position without qualification, he also discovers that Perry played a destructive role in Stefan’s past. When Perry turns up dead, Nick wonders if Stefan might have had something to do with it while the campus security force is wondering the same about Nick.
Originally published in 1996, this first book in the Nick Hoffman Academic Mystery series is now back in print. This edition contains a 2019 foreword by the author.
To begin, this is not a romance novel. This is a mystery first, with a secondary, very prominent gay relationship. The mystery helps to define and enhance the relationship, which I greatly enjoyed. So many m/m romance books cover the dating or beginning stages of a romance, not so many delve in to the nuances of an established couple, and I find that just fascinating.
The blurb does a solid job of describing the plot so I won’t re-summarize. I greatly enjoyed Nick’s emotional conundrums – his partner of 10 years has lied? Omitted key aspects of his life? Not trusted Nick? Nick doesn’t know what to think anymore as he’s faced with the realization that Stephan could be facing jail time. Though Nick’s trust is shaken to the core, Nick doesn’t give up on Stephen, and it becomes a emotional roller coaster for both men.
The mystery was engaging – what I would call a cozy but with a bit less fluff than I find in most cozy mysteries. That probably makes no sense at all unless you’re an aficionado of cozy mysteries. Trust me, less fluff. Maybe it’s because of the established relationship – there’s not a “budding romance” in the mix.
There is a Tell All Bestie, and for those of you who read my reviews know my thoughts on this trope. This didn’t grate on my nerves as much as other stories, perhaps because our Bestie is a very strong established character who lives in another state and conversations are limited to the phone and advice.
I know this is a re-printing, and I hope/trust that the punctuation errors scattered through out the book will be tidied up before full “press”. Normally not something I comment on, but a few were a bit cringe-worthy.
Lastly, a note that this was previously published in 1996. For myself, I find it fascinating to read a story where the characters don’t have cell phones, not everyone has a computer, and certain technology just isn’t prevalent yet. Yup…I remember land lines… a nice trip down memory lane.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries and characters established – and struggling – in a long-term relationship, you will probably enjoy this selection. Also noting, this is the first in a longer series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters develop and grow. Recommended.