Dana reviews Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean (Published by Blind Eye Books, October 4, 2016, 350 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: Well this book was chosen for me for Readers Choice week and since real life got in the way, I am just now reviewing it a few weeks later. I was excited that this book was picked for me, since I love a good mystery. For that reason, I’d say this book also fits this weeks theme of reviewing books in our comfort zone.
Detective Sergeant James Henderson’s remarkable gut instincts have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector. But the advancement of his career has come at a cost. Gay, posh and eager to prove himself in the Metropolitan Police, James has allowed himself few chances for romance.
But when the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, all that changes. His investigation leads him to a circle of irresistibly charming men. And though he knows better, James finds himself enticed into their company.
Soon his desire for photographer Ben Morgan challenges him to find a way into the other man’s lifestyle of one-night stands and carefree promiscuity. At the same time his single murder case multiplies into a cruel pattern of violence and depravity.
But as the bodies pile up and shocking secrets come to light, James finds both his tumultuous private life and coveted career threatened by a bitter legacy.
Buy links: Publisher | Amazon | Smashwords | Add to GoodreadsOh my goodness. I just finished this book around midnight and had to write down my feelings while they were fresh and almost crushing me with their intensity. I’m squeeing inside because of all the surprises I faced in this book.
I should start by saying that it did take me a little bit to get into the story. It was a little slow going, probably realistic with the brick walls James keeps running into investigating the murder of a young woman. One of the first places he goes to investigate is an apartment building, or truer to the location of the story perhaps I should call it a flat. He meets two men that will be important to his story with one of them stirring romantic and lusty interest. James ends up renting a room in that building, but even that is slow going, since the man he’s interested in, Ben, is only looking to be friends.
As two more murders happen, James begins to suspect a serial killer. Even though his coworkers are looking for an easier answer to what’s happening, I was really backing James’ theory. Perhaps because he is the main character and I didn’t want to see him be wrong. Things become more complicated in his living situation, too. James begins to fall for Ben, but learns his feelings might never be returned. His lower floor neighbor and gay porn star Steggie, has an interest in James but he can’t return his feelings. It’s a awkward love triangle with no one seeming to be happy with the status quo. James is only recently out and there is a plot thread of him coming into his sexuality and trying to maintain friendships with men when attraction is involved.
The police bring in several suspects during the investigation, all with pretty good motive for the murders, but none of them sit right with James as the killer. Halfway through the book, things become more intense and after that I couldn’t put the book down. I had suspects that were wrong. Then I thought I knew who it was, making me wail inside because I didn’t want it to be that person. The author then made it seem like it was another person who I also didn’t want to be a ruthless killer, only to bring it all back to the first person. I wanted to yell, and I wanted to cry.
There is a lot of talk in this book about the viewpoint that a lot of criminals are victims of their own situations in life and and turn to violence and crime because they are used to it. Some of the secondary characters want more leniency shown towards those who have suffered and well, I can see how I might have felt that way about one of the characters in this book, but those same beliefs were what made the murderer take his revenge on those who were shown better treatment because of those ideals. It felt like a Catch 22.
At the end, James does find romance and it feels like a HFN because it was a hard won relationship. The end of the murder investigation left me feeling upset in ways. Even though the murders were solved, I was left distressed by the outcome. Like there was no way that it could have ended well. I couldn’t be happy that the mystery was solved even though it needed to happen.
If you like a book that will keep you guessing while teasing you with sexy times, this book is for you. I would definitely read another book featuring this character (pretty please?) or another book by this author, for sure.
9.5/10 Pots of Gold (95% Recommended) – Compares to 4.75/5 Stars
Dal Maclean |-> Website
Dal Maclean comes from Scotland. Her background is in journalism, and she has an undying passion for history, the more gossipy and scandalous the better. Dal has lived in Asia and worked all over the world, but home is now the UK. She dislikes the Tragic Gay trope, but loves imperfect characters and genuine emotional conflict in romantic fiction. As an author, and a reader, she believes it’s worth a bit of work to reach a happy ending. Agatha Christie, English gardens and ill-advised cocktails are three fatal weaknesses, though not usually at the same time.
Her first book, “Bitter Legacy”, is a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for best Gay Mystery.