Erryn reviews Yet a Stranger (The First Quarto Book 2) by Gregory Ashe. (Published by Hodgkin and Blount on May 10, 2021. Audio length 11hrs 22 mins. Narrated by J.F. Harding. Ebook released December 15, 2020. 438 pages.) An audio code was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read: I loved book 1.
When Auggie Lopez returns to Wroxall College, he’s determined that his second year will be different from the chaos he faced as a freshman. He’s living in the Sigma Sigma house, he’s got a good group of friends, and his social media presence is growing. Meeting a hot older guy on move-in day is just the cherry on top. All he has to do now is avoid getting dragged into another murder.
That last part, though, turns out to be easier said than done, especially when Auggie’s ex-roommate, Orlando, asks for help. Orlando’s brother Cal has gone missing, and Orlando wants Auggie to find him.
Auggie knows he’ll need help, but recruiting his friend—and crush—Theo is not as straightforward as he expects. While Auggie was gone for the summer, Theo has started dating someone, and neither Theo nor Auggie knows how to handle the shift in their relationship.
Finding Orlando’s brother dead only makes their situation more complicated. Although the police are quick to write off the homicide as a drug deal gone wrong, Auggie and Theo aren’t so sure, and Orlando begs them to keep investigating. To learn the truth, Auggie and Theo will have to untangle a web of lies while keeping each other safe from a killer who is determined to stop them.
As Auggie and Theo dig deeper, they realize that Cal was a stranger even to the people who thought they knew him. And Auggie and Theo both begin to fear that they are also strangers to each other.
Read Dana’s review of Book 1 They Told Me I Was Everything here.
Read Erryn’s review of Book 1 They Told Me I Was Everything here.
Read Dana’s review of Book 2 Yet a Stranger here.
So Auggie didn’t land those lucrative endorsement deals for his social media presence on Instagram. Outing himself definitely hurt his potential advertisers and doesn’t that speak poorly of the state of the world? So he’s back at Wroxall College in Missouri – about as far from SoCal as he can get. Sophomore year’s going to be quieter – right?
Yeah, probably not.
Theo was Auggie’s professor and even though their, uh, romantic relationship (what of it there was) began after they departed the professional relationship, Theo’s in hot water in the department – not just because of his relationship with Auggie – but also because of his drunken behavior at a Christmas party last year. Now, he’s a grad student – so they can’t fire him. But they can demote him. This year he’s been relegated to teaching assistant for an old professor who has a propensity for chasing young and clearly uninterested women. Double standard, anyone?
Anyway, Auggie’s in the class – studying Romeo and Juliet – and you just know there’s going to be trouble.
Orlando, Auggie’s roommate from first year (and who was formerly obsessed with Auggie) is back with a problem. His brother Cal has gone missing. He believes Auggie and Theo can solve the disappearance. Now, it felt like a bit of a stretch, but Gregory Ashe had to make it plausible the two would be dragged down into another murder investigation. And it worked. At first, they’re just looking for a missing person but, unfortunately, when they find him, he’s dead. Auggie and Theo are offered a pile of money by the family to solve the crime. They feel badly agreeing to take it, but both men need money. Theo for the cost of caring for his daughter who was so tragically injured in the car crash that killed his husband, and Auggie because, frankly college is expensive. Oh, and having POS for a car doesn’t help either.
And while they’re trying to figure out who murdered Cal, there are romantic entanglements to sort. Now, as much as I want the two men together, this is a Gregory Ashe series, so I know I’m going to have to wait. Theo is getting more involved with his husband’s former police officer partner. Cart is very deep in the closet and that’s getting on Theo’s nerves. He doesn’t want to be anyone’s dirty secret. And Auggie’s met an upperclassman at the fraternity. Dylan seems like a great guy, but I never quite warmed to him. I also want to mention that Auggie’s experiences in the dorm are bringing back memories (good and bad) of my own time living on campus – I think I need to call my therapist.
Anyway, the men also have family entanglements. Theo’s brother Luke died of an overdose for which Theo blames himself. Auggie’s brother Chewie is an addict and his brother Fer is barely holding the family together. And Auggie keeps spending Fer’s money and I cringed. Fer is being put in an impossible situation – carrying everyone. I was waiting for him to break.
Now, back to the murder mystery. All the usual suspects show up. The dirty cop, the Ozark Volunteers (the white supremacist group), as well as some other characters who might or might not have been involved. And Cal was basically leading a double life with his family being in ignorance – or so I believed. I predicted some of the dénouement, but not all of it. Ashe kept me guessing until the end.
Like the previous book, there is plenty of violence. Disturbing violence. Made my stomach clench violence. And I’m no faint of heart, but this book got to me. Will that stop me from reading the next one when it comes out? Uh, oh hell no. And again, I loved how Romeo and Juliet was interwoven in the story. I can’t wait to see which tragedy Ashe picks for the next story.
Finally I’ll mention J.F. Harding. I really enjoy his narration style, and I’m always happy to pick up one of his books. Here’s hoping there’s more to come from this writing/narrator duo.
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!
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