Erryn and Dana review ‘Declination (Borealis Investigations Book 3)’ by Gregory Ashe. This book was released on October 12, 2019, and is 383 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Charlie David. It was released on April 28, 2020, and is 11 hrs and 48 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
To read the review of Orientation (Borealis Investigations Book 1) click here.
To read the review of Triangulation (Borealis Investigations Book 2) click here.
Why Erryn read this book: I really enjoyed Triangulation.
Why Dana read this book: I am a fan of this author and enjoyed the first two books of the series.
Shaw and North are together. Finally. After eight years of knowing each other and loving each other and slipping past each other, they’ve finally told each other how they feel. Borealis Investigations is growing, and they have a major prospective client on the line. Everything is finally moving the way it should.
Until the night Shaw receives a phone call telling him that Detective Jadon Reck, his former boyfriend, has been attacked.
In spite of a warning from Jadon’s partner, Shaw and North begin an investigation into the attack. But nothing is at it seems. City police are working to cover up evidence faster than Shaw and North can find it, and the motive for the attack seems impossible to unravel.
When a conspiracy of dirty cops takes action against Shaw and North, the two detectives realize they are running out of time. They have to get answers about the attack on Jadon before they lose their own lives. But Shaw knows there are things worse than death. And one of them has come back for him, to finish what he started seven years before.
The West End Slasher has returned.
Declination: the deviation of a compass needle from true north, the extent of that deviation.
Shaw’s note: example – that time junior year when North insisted he could find his way out of the corn maze blindfolded and ended up in the hospital with a minor concussion.
North’s note: better example? Shaw thinking fajitas are better than tamales.
Shaw’s correction: disagreeing with you doesn’t count as derivation just because your name’s North and anyway, you were the one who made out with the scarecrow after you hit your head on the wagon.
North’s correction: that scarecrow was fucking hot. Period.
Sometimes I finish a book and I can’t wait to share it with the word. I write the review immediately and get it posted ASAP. Other times I listen and can wait until the next day and meander my way through my thoughts. Then there are books where I have to reflect upon my response. Parse my feelings to determine how I felt during the listening and how I feel now that it’s over. Would I recommend the book? What stuck with me and what did I forget? What do other listeners need to know? Would I listen to this book again? Or others by this author – in this series or other books?
Okay, so I’m now through most of those questions and I’m going to share my feelings. First, what I remember. The violence. I listened to Triangulation and LOVED it, so I leapt on Declination, breathlessly waiting to see what mischief North and Shaw were going to get into this time. Upon reflection, there was violence in the previous book. North had endured physical abuse by his husband and, finally, that man had received his comeuppance. Pure violence, but there seemed to be some justification for it. The violence in this book has far more shades of gray. I also occasionally wondered how everyone around them didn’t comment on the obvious injuries.
There is humor in this book. The löwchen puppy, to be sure. I love the antics of animals, and the men’s secretary Pari was back with all her craziness. Then there is the amusing dialogue. The following exchange, for example:
“He tried going peegan, actually,” North said.
“What’s peegan?” Truck asked.
“Paleo and vegan. Lasted about two days.”
“I missed tacos,” Shaw whispered.
The little exchanges between the two men are adorable. There’s witty banter and snark galore. I like those moments in books I read.
There was also the weird issue of time in this book. It takes place in a very short timespan and yet it felt like there was so much going on. Tons of action, right? Kept me on the edge of my seat. Then the guys would have sex. Weird sex. And then Shaw would freak out. I kept thinking, how do they have time for this? I mean, the bad guys are right there! Not to say the sex scenes weren’t good. Just weirdly timed.
I did enjoy the book and if there is another one, I will definitely read it. I feel like North and Shaw still have lots of shit to work out between them and I want to see it. Now they seem firmly together, I want more sanity. But keep the snarky humor.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the narrator, Charlie David. I can still hear his voice in my head as I’m writing this review. I really like his style and I love the different voices he gives for each character. Again, stellar job. So although this wasn’t my favorite book, I would recommend it. Just consider yourself warned.
8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
So this was kind of a tough book to review. I am gonna do my best, though. Shaw and North are a couple of friends from college who went into the P.I. business together. North is a guy with a short temper and a history of abuse at the hands of his ex-husband. He had a long-time crush on Shaw but thanks to the interference of his ex, it remained a secret. Shaw is a sweet but strange sort of guy. He jumps on health fads and quickly ends them only to restart the fad or find another. A horrible crime happened to Shaw and he lost a loved one as well as part of himself. He definitely tries to seem like he’s okay but after being manipulated by a client turned lover, he really is a mess. At the end of book Triangulation, book 2 of this series, Shaw and North both find themselves single and take the step towards a romantic relationship in addition to their friendship and work partnership. I had a good feeling about the romance but was worried about Shaw when his ex showed up beaten and cut up and sent as a message for Shaw to stop investigating what happened to him.
Shaw had been lucky to survive the brutal incident that happened to him back in college. He was cut multiple times all over his body leaving him feeling deformed. The mental trauma is heavy as well. It took him quite some time to be able to be physical with another person and even now, if North seems to be looming over him, or touches too close to Shaw’s throat, it throws everything into chaos. I have never experienced anything so traumatic, but I can feel for Shaw. His way of handling it, though, is strange to me. I can’t say how people are supposed to push aside the fear and doubt, but Shaw pretends like he’s okay and nothing happened. He doesn’t want to dwell so and he keeps putting himself in situations that trigger him. I can understand why he uses avoidance but when it comes to his relationship with North, the happiness I was expecting for them was not working out at all. His moods and personality would swing so far at times, I was concerned for his mental health. While I can understand why the past violence would cause hiccups and strange behavior at times, the closeness between the two men seems more jangled than before they got together. I don’t fault the writing, but I was as anxious and out of sorts as the characters and it weighed the story down.
On top of their personal problems, Shaw is more determined than ever to catch the person or people that hurt him, killed his boyfriend, and most recently put another ex of his in the hospital. As the two men search for clues and follow the breadcrumbs left for them by the detective who Shaw once dated, the truth of how many people and how high they reach in the criminal justice system is disheartening. It doesn’t seem like they will be able to trust anyone enough to report their findings. The people who were involved were ruthless and I despaired so much for a happy ending, though it did get a little better in the end.
Shaw and North learn to communicate a little better and I was hopeful for them again, especially when it seems that they did catch the bad guys. However, I don’t know if I feel like a HEA was achieved. I feel like I need to see the couple stable for a little bit longer and I want to see them achieve the goals they have for themselves and their company before the series ends. That being said, I hope the author will write another book (or at least a novella) in this series to show the characters having a bit of a normal existence and to see how their business is doing, especially with the cryptic last remark. Charlie David did a great job narrating this book and I would definitely listen to him again.
8/10 Pots of Gold (80% Recommended) – Compares to 4/5 Stars
I’m a long-time Midwesterner. I’ve lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, my current home. Aside from reading and writing (which take up a lot of my time), I’m an educator.
While I enjoy reading across many genres, my two main loves are mystery and speculative fiction. I used to keep a list of favorite books, but it changes so frequently that I’ve given up. I’m always looking for recommendations, though, so please drop me a line if you have something in mind!
My big goal right now is one day to be responsible enough to get a dog.