Dana reviews A Friend in the Dark (Auden & O’Callaghan Mystery Book 1) by Gregory Ashe and C.S. Poe (Published by Emporium Press. Audio released Jan 8, 2021. 7 hrs and 54 mins in length. Narrated by Garret Kiesel. Ebook released Sept 8, 2020. 265 pages.) An audio code was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Rufus O’Callaghan has eked out a living on the streets of New York City by helping the police put away criminals as a confidential informant. But when Rufus shows up for an arranged meeting and finds his handler dead, his already-uncertain life is thrown into a tailspin. Now someone is trying to kill Rufus too, and he’s determined to find out why.
After leaving the Army under less than desirable circumstances, Sam Auden has drifted from town to town, hitching rides and catching Greyhounds, until he learns that a former Army buddy, now a police detective in New York City, has died by suicide. Sam knows that’s not right, and he immediately sets out to get answers.
As Rufus and Sam work together to learn the truth of their friend’s death, they find themselves entangled in a web of lies, cover-ups, and accelerating danger. And when they witness a suspect killed in cold blood, they realize they’re running out of time.
I am a big fan of Gregory Ashe, and have listened to all of his books that have been released on audio. While I am not as familiar with C.S. Poe’s books, the ones I have listened to, I enjoyed. What I have read/listened to from both of them separately definitely had me interested in seeing how they would collaborate with each other.
Rufus O’Callaghan is a street “rat” or CI for the New York Police Department. The officer he helps is Jake, who ends up being murdered by someone who tries to take out Rufus when he shows up for their meet-up. Sam Auden was a former soldier who served with Jake and also a former friend with benefits. Sam comes in from the Midwest to try and find out who would kill his friend. I feel like both of these characters are complicated in different ways. Sam has tremors and nightmares from his past. He also has no plans to let anyone get close to him. Rufus has a history of self-harm. While I’d like to see both of these characters explored more in depth in future books of this series, I didn’t really connect to either of them in this book. Perhaps it was all of their defensiveness with each other.
Somehow they are both able to work out the mystery of their friend’s death. The force Jake worked for has it’s share of crooked cops and though we kind of know who is responsible by the middle of the book, the real trick is for Rufus and Sam to prove who is behind the murder and help bring them to justice. I found the crime solving satisfying in this book, and while a romance might be simmering between the two main characters, things seem to be off between them by the end of this book. I do like a slow burn and I think it would be good for them to figure themselves out before we see a HEA or HFN.
Besides this being a new collaboration between these two authors, this was also a new narrator to me. I found him to be pretty good and I would listen to him again. Though the ending is a little up in the air in regards to the characters and their future direction, I like what I have listened to so far and eagerly wait for the next book in the series.
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.
C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and two-time EPIC award finalist, and a FAPA award-winning author of gay mystery, romance, and speculative fiction.
She resides in New York City, but has also called Key West and Ibaraki, Japan, home in the past. She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued two cats—Milo and Kasper do their best to distract her from work on a daily basis.
C.S. is an alumna of the School of Visual Arts.
Her debut novel, The Mystery of Nevermore, was published 2016.