Erryn and Dana review ‘Indirection (Borealis: Without a Compass Book 1)’ by Gregory Ashe. This book was released on March 19, 2021, and is 312 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Charlie David. It was released on May 10, 2021, and is 12 hrs and 17 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.
To read the review of Declination (Borealis Investigations Book 3) click here.
Why Erryn read this book: I love North and Shaw.
Why Dana read this book: I am a fan of Gregory Ashe’s books and wanted to see what he had in store for North and Shaw in this spin-off series.
Rabid readers. Backbiting authors. A romance convention from hell.
Shaw Aldrich and his best friend, boyfriend, and partner, North McKinney, are doing great, thanks. The aftermath of their search for the Slasher has finally settled down. Their private investigation agency is thriving. And after years of missed opportunities, they’re finally together. Sure, work might be taking up every spare minute, and their time together as a couple might have evaporated – but that’s normal, right?
When an author asks for their help investigating threats against a gay romance convention, Shaw sees an opportunity to shake up their routine and maybe have some fun. But the convention isn’t what he expects. Between the rabid fans and the backbiting authors, the death threats – which seem totally baseless – are the least of North and Shaw’s worries.
Until, that is, a best-selling author is poisoned in the middle of a panel. Then Shaw and North must race against the clock to find the killer before he (or she) escapes – and before the convention ends. But romance authors are more complicated than either North or Shaw expects, and a treacherous web knits the suspects together.
Shaw and North will have to unravel a skein of lies and half-truths to uncover the killer. It doesn’t help that, on top of everything else, Shaw just wants to find his next favorite book – and, if it isn’t asking too much, have sex with North at least one more time in his current incarnation.
Indirection is the first book in a follow-up series; listen to North and Shaw’s first adventures in The Borealis Investigations, beginning with Orientation.
Indirection (noun) – lack of straightforwardness, indirect action, lack of direction
Shaw’s note – like the time North got wasted at a Sigma Sigma party and tried to walk home and got stuck in a hedge for two hours until I found him
North’s note – better example: or like the first time Shaw used a Dab Pen and got lost inside his own sweater
Erryn’s note – I had to go look up what a Dab Pen was (thank you Google)
I adored the Borealis Investigation series and was sad to see it end. At the time, there was promise of more and this author tends to write prolifically when he zeroes in on a couple worthy of his attention. Shaw and North are such a couple. Although their respective arcs felt complete after the last book in the previous series, a few cracks let daylight through, so I wasn’t surprised to see my two favorite private detectives back. They’ve put the slasher behind them and are busier than ever with the business – especially the work they’re doing for Shaw’s father. They’re not getting rich, but things are at least comfortable.
When Shaw is approached by the organizer of a gay romance convention, Queer Con, to help solve the threats to the con, he grabs the opportunity because it’s something new. Something shiny. And he gets to pull out his manuscript about gay library sex (and a debate about whether you can return a book you’ve uh, you know…if it’s library hardback and you’ve cleaned it. (Hint – no fucking way.)
I have heard a few stories about cons over the years and have attended a few myself (although never a gay romance con, despite having always wanted to.) I’ve heard rumours about things going on behind the scenes, but I’d like to believe nothing as extreme as what’s going on in this story. That being said, I wonder how much is imagination and how much is rooted in those rumours. I was never quite sure.
Now, along with murder, there is a lot of humor in this book. Like at some points I laughed out loud (not common for me) and a couple of times, I actually snorted. Usually at Shaw’s antics. I can never quite figure him out. He seems almost ditzy at times and at other moments, he has great ideas. That being said, I’m firmly in Camp North. Shaw would drive me nuts. Sometimes I wonder why North puts up with him. Then Shaw does something super sweet and I think, yeah, I get it. Or he does something ridiculous (the red pen incident) and I think, OMG, I’d lose my shit.
There is a lot going on in this book. Not just the con. And Shaw and North are in for a nasty surprise when they try to take down a criminal. North’s past might not be as clean as he’d thought.
Okay, and through all this, I had Charlie David. I adore him and his narrations are always brilliant. He has the couple nailed, and did a good job with the secondary characters as well. Obviously there are more books to come in the series and I can’t wait. And although you can listen without having enjoyed the last series, I would recommend tossing it in to the mix – if only for the sheer entertainment value.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
In the first series, Borealis Investigations, featuring Shaw Aldrich and North McKinney, the two were partners in a P.I. business and best friends. Also the two had harbored a long time crush on each other, but couldn’t admit it to each other. An attack on Shaw and an abusive husband for North later, the two finally got together in the last book. I knew there would be differences in this series vs the fist one just because the sexual tension and would they or won’t they get together questions were done. But the bickering between the two definitely wasn’t.
At times the little fights between North and Shaw are funny. At times, I would almost think it was an act meant to confuse anyone around them, especially criminals and/or cops who mean to teach them a lesson or question them. It definitely feels like a comedy schtick sometimes, but it is just North and Shaw being North and Shaw. When my co-reviewer, Erryn, asked me if I was Camp North or Camp Shaw, I’ll admit that it wasn’t something I really thought of in that way. I liked the two together and could see both of their bad sides and good sides. North is the tougher of the two. His family and his abusive marriage made him who he is; jaded and easy to anger. Shaw is definitely the lighter of the two. His past attack has affected him in some ways, but overall he is the more optimistic of the two. He is definitely silly and hippy-dippy. I can see why North can get frustrated with him, but at times North’s tough demeanor can be cruel. After reflection, I probably identify with Shaw and his need to see the good in people; the silver lining on the cloud.
In Indirection, North and Shaw are working two different cases. One is less than on the level, since the person asking for their help is making nefarious threats. Young male prostitutes are being beat to the brink of death and they need to find proof of who is doing it. Though I’m glad they were there trying to help find this monster, the blackmailer forcing them to work the case makes me angry. This storyline will come back in the next book as the two try to get from under his thumb, I’m sure. The other case is at a gay romance con. I was lucky enough to go to one in 2014 and loved the experience. As a newbie to the genre and sort of shy, I didn’t get caught up in any drama that might occur, though I am sure there was some. Just as there was in this book. The author does poke a little fun at author drama, and the handsy fans, but nothing I could find offense in. The mystery plot regarding the death of one of the authors and why he was killed was definitely interesting, though, and I was never sure who it was until the big reveal.
As far as this second series featuring North and Shaw goes, I am excited. I can’t wait to see the ways they keep trying to work on their relationship and what might happen as their blackmailer keeps threatening them. There were appearances from previous characters in this series including Shaw’s ex and a police detective Jaden. A brief crossover appearance of Winter and Snow, from C.S. Poe’s characters was fun, but very brief to be sure. Since Gregory Ashe and C.S. Poe also co-author a different series together, I wonder if they will appear again. It definitely rounded out this story well and the narration from Charlie David was on-point. I definitely recommend this book. I do believe you can listen or read this series without having read the first, but I think it could be beneficial.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 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.