Stray Fears (The DuPage Parish Mysteries) by Gregory Ashe #DuoReview #LGBT #Audiobook #Mystery #Paranormal

Dana and Erryn review Stray Fears ( The DuPage Parish Mysteries Book 1) by Gregory Ashe (Ebook published by Hodgkin and Blount, October, 24, 2020. 235 pages. Audio released September 27, 2021. Narrated by Declan Winters. Length: 7 hrs 51 minutes) An audiobook was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb:

Elien Martel is a survivor, but surviving, he’s beginning to discover, isn’t the same thing as living. In the house he shares with his much older boyfriend, Elien spends his days trying to stay as far away from living as possible. Living, he has learned, means that sooner or later you’ll get hurt.

When a member of Elien’s support group dies under strange circumstances, though, Elien finds himself in a web of bizarre coincidences. The responding officer turns out to be another member of Elien’s support group – a man named Mason, who has made no effort to hide his dislike of Elien. Then, just a few days later, Mason tries to kill Elien in front of dozens of witnesses.

As violence ripples through Elien’s world, he begins to suspect that the coincidences are not coincidences at all. Something is at work behind the cascade of tragedies, something vicious and intelligent. Something that has wanted Elien for a long time.

To defeat it, Elien will have to do what he fears most and face the darkness in his own past. Worse, he’ll have to take the risk of trying to live again.

©2020 Gregory Ashe (P)2021 Gregory Ashe

Buy Links: Audible | Amazon | B&N | Add to Goodreads

Dana: 

Ooohh!! I am very excited about this series! I just had to get that out right away. I am a big fan of this author’s other mystery series and wanted to check this one out. I was glad when it came to audio and I was offered the chance to review it.  Right off the bat, the story seemed different. The blurb was more mysterious and it had me wondering who the main characters would be. Would Elien be paired with Mason who tried to kill him? I was all kinds of wrong, but in a good way because I like being surprised.

Like Gregory Ashe’s other series, this one does involve a mystery. Elien joined a support group after a gruesome event in his past left him with PTSD, a possible eating disorder, and a penchant for lying. I say possible because besides the support group and private therapy, he is also dating a psychologist who seems to play a role in Eli’s mental health despite the conflict of interest that would be. The Mason mentioned in the blurb is a cop who attends the support group after being shot while on duty. Besides trying to kill Eli, who unexplainably bothers him so much, he isn’t that prominent of a character in this story though. Instead, it is Mason’s partner Dag who comes to Eli’s rescue and helps him investigate the violent outbursts plaguing the members of his support group.

Well I have to tell you, at first Elien isn’t a very likable character. He has many decent qualities and genuinely cares about some of his fellow group members. But his lying is confusing, and when cornered he might be ruthless with his verbal barbs. Several times, Dag is a victim to this behavior and in the beginning it is a close call regarding whether he will leave Eli on his own.  Thankfully, he also sees through the defense mechanisms, and sees that Eli needs some help and honestly so does he. Because the mysterious blue lights and the strange deaths might be attributed to something inhuman that attacks whoever sees it.

Yes! This has a paranormal twist, and I love it! I mean yeah, I feel bad for the characters, especially Eli whose pain has been feeding the monster since that first tragic event. I just love a little paranormal suspense in my books. I don’t think this book crosses into the horror genre, but it lightly skirts the area. Dag and Eli develop emotions somewhat quickly for a Gregory Ashe series and at first I thought that they would split up true to fashion and do some personal work. I admit that it is needed, but these two went through so much together that I was glad when Dag took matters into his own hands and confronted Eli about their mutual feelings. I totally support them skipping the games and trying to figure themselves out first. I love them together.

Overall I was surprised and intrigued by this book. It was a perfect blend of mystery, paranormal suspense, and romance. The narrator was new to me and I enjoyed his performance. I thought he did a good job bringing these characters to life, and even provided a slight New Orleans drawl. That was another different thing worth mentioning. Instead of the usual Midwest setting we are taken to Louisiana and it seems the perfect place for this storyline to take place. Definitely recommend.

9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars

Erryn: 

I’ve struggled a bit with this review.  I’m a huge Gregory Ashe fan, so I had high expectations for this book.  And there were some parts I really liked.  I liked Elien, despite his inability to tell the truth all the time.  I empathized with him and the trauma he endured.  I didn’t like his relationship with his live-in psychiatrist boyfriend, though.  And I did like his relationship with Dag – precarious as it was.  Dag was willing to look further than the surface.  He was willing to protect Elien from whatever is happening.  And there’s a lot happening.  Members of Elien’s support group are dying, and at times I didn’t feel he was concerned enough about his own safety.

Now, I wasn’t expecting the paranormal aspects of this story.  They were interesting, and I’d never heard of the mythical creature stalking Elien.  Feeding off his pain. All very intriguing and verging on horror with plenty of gore.

The information about the book says this is the first in a series, and although I would love to see more of Dag and Elien, I’m not sure where they might wind up next.  Knowing Gregory, though, it’ll be interesting.

Declan Winters is a new narrator to me and I enjoyed his performance.  I’d be happy to listen to something by him another time.  A solid and interesting listen.

8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars


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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!

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the site, please contact me and let me know. (That includes anything pertinent that I should have already told you; I never know what to put in these dang ‘about’ sections!)

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