I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are 100% my own.
Gabriel Church knows you can’t take a life without first understanding just how feeble life is, how tentative and weak it stands alone. If you desire murder, you hold a life in your hand. Whether you release it to grant life or grip tighter to end it, it is at your command and discretion. Gabriel is a serial killer with a story he wants told.
Christian Maxwell studied abnormal psychology in college but chose instead to focus on a career in writing. His background comes in handy when he thinks of writing about a serial killer. He can’t think of anyone more qualified to write the story of Gabriel Lee Church, and do so in the murderer’s own words. It’s been done before, but never with a killer who has yet to be captured or convicted.
There was never anything more than a gentleman’s understanding between the two men that Christian would record Gabriel’s life story. The killer did not ask for his complicity in any crimes, nor did he ever ask for his silence. Christian’s interest in the man, though, is fast becoming something more than academic. When the writer and his subject become unexpected friends and then lovers, the question remains: What is Gabriel’s endgame . . . and why does he want his story told?
I was sent an email by Rodd Clark requesting that I review something “different”. And it was obvious from the blurb that it would be a mild departure from my norm in that it is a M/M romance. Otherwise, not too far removed. I was wrong. It draws parallels with Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series, but it isn’t the same. The similarities begin and end with interviewer and murderer. After that, it’s all uniquely its own beast. I’m glad I was given a chance to read this book and to review it.
We’re introduced to Christian Maxwell first, as he’s sitting in a cafe in Seattle interviewing serial killer, Gabriel Church. Now let’s break there for a moment. The religious elements to this story cannot be overlooked though they aren’t pervasive or preachy. As a matter of fact, they feel as though religion is used as a hidden compulsion of the characters. Christian is a self-professed atheist, yet is the morality in the story. (and no, you don’t have to be religious to be moral, he’s just the moral compass of the story, if you can call it that.) And though Gabriel is unclear of his true ideology, it makes me wonder if he picked Christian for some ideological reason that’s only known to him.
Back to the characters, Gabriel kills at random and with no know MO. And amazingly, Christian is the only one who figured out that he was the killer to those murders. And Gabriel wanted his story told, and Christian is the journalist to record it. And what starts out as two straight men (or mostly straight in Christian’s case) their affair starts off rather sudden and with no reticence on either man’s part. And as with all things, the emotional element complicates an already EXTREMELY complicated relationship. And both men upset and hurt the other.
I will say this does not have an HEA. This doesn’t end in a bang. It simply ends. Unsatisfactorily and without any real resolution. But isn’t that how life is? With as fantastical as this story was, it had a very human ending. I think it was the BEST possible ending that could have come out of it. It definitely didn’t end as horrible as I expected.
I’ll be honest, this is something different from my normal review. Because yeah, I have books I yell at. But probably not to the degree that I yelled at this one. I had to read this book while my 6yo son was sleeping because I couldn’t help screaming certain things out at the book, which is why it took me longer than expected to read it. But yeah, at one point, when I realized that an affair was imminent I was like “DUDE!!! Don’t!!!! He’s going to stab your brains with his <insert graphic slang for man’s appendage> though your eye socket!!!!” Among the typical “ARE YOU NUTS!!!” and then toward the end….“Well, you’re dead now, dumbass!!!”
Mr. Clark definitely has a way with words. There are some continuity issues and some minor grammar issues, but each character had a distinct voice, even if it wasn’t immediately clear when a character switch occurred. He also does an amazing job at creating a sympathetic, yet unapologetic “bad guy”, because regardless of how the character Gabriel feels about himself, he IS the bad guy. The homoerotic element to this wasn’t awkward or feel overtly showy, it felt like it truly was a natural progression, though it started as suddenly as it did. The sex wasn’t overly graphic either, not at all fade to black, but not harsh and graphic. This definitely couldn’t be labeled erotica, though it was erotic. So would I recommend this book. I would. For those who are looking for something outside the norm, who isn’t put off by a love story that isn’t a love story and one that isn’t wrapped in a bow at the end. There’s a promise to another Gabriel Church story, which I’m looking forward to. This is BY FAR not for those under 18, and not for the sexual nature of the men in the story, but rather for the story itself.
About the Author
Rodd lives in Dallas, TX at the moment but hails from the sticks of Oklahoma. Check out his web presence at RODDCLARK.COM. Interested in the M/M Mystery, Romance and Thriller genres but has a varied interest in many good books. His books have a darkly distinctive voice and deep characterizations. His latest work is the Erotic Romance Thriller “Rubble and the Wreckage” and is currently working on the sequel which he hopes to have released in 2015.