by J.L. Merrow
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Will Golding needs a break from his usual routine, and he’s been looking forward to a holiday helping Baz, his friend-with-benefits, research a book about Isle of Wight ghosts. When an evening beach walk turns into a startling encounter with Marcus Devereux, Will can’t get his mind off the notoriously reclusive writer’s pale, perfect, naked body. And any interest in ghostly legends takes a back seat to the haunting secrets lying in Marcus’s past.
Marcus, painfully aware of his appearance, is accustomed to keeping to himself. But the memory of tall, athletic Will standing on the beach draws him out from behind defenses he’s maintained since age fourteen, when his parents were murdered. While his heart is hungry for human contact, though, his longtime guardian warns him that talking to anyone—particularly a journalist like Baz—is as dangerous as a day in the sun.
As Baz gets closer to the truth, the only thing adding up is the sizzling attraction between Will and Marcus. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone wants to let sleeping secrets lie…or Will and Baz could end up added to the island’s ghostly population.
Once again JL Merrow brings us a pair of unconventional heroes in a setting that suits them perfectly. A nicely constructed mystery and a thoroughly dislikeable villain. I just wish we could have seen a little more of the aftermath of the story's big events.
by Elyan Smith
Published by Riptide Publishing
Portside by Elyan Smith
Life on the dole in a dying town is defined by drinking when you can, smoking to pass the time, and, if you’re gay, going down to the barracks at the old port to get some. Iwan’s got the cigarettes and the booze down pat, but he lacks experience, so he sticks to online porn and watching the lads portside.
Everyone else seems to have learned how to get what they want, yet Iwan can't get past everything that could go wrong. He knows who he is, regardless of labels. But no matter how often his best friend tells him to just go for it, he doesn’t trust others to see past his mismatched body.
Paying for what he’s afraid to get for free may seem absurd, but it’s better than just watching, and it’s better than porn. It may not change the world he lives in, but with luck, it will change him.
Quite a cheering and optimistic story, in spite of the rather grim setting. I definitely want to see more from this author.
The Cadaver Game
by Kate Ellis
Published by PIATKUS BOOKS
When the decaying body of a murdered woman is discovered in a suburban house following an anonymous tip off, DI Wesley Peterson has problems establishing her identity. But as he digs deeper, he has another more disturbing case to investigate - the naked bodies of two teenagers have been found with shotgun wounds at the foot of a cliff. Both cases become stranger when Wesley realises they are linked to a sinister manhunt, mirroring events from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Why did the teenage victims take part in an online game called Blood Hunt, which they were eventually persuaded to play for real? Then a skeleton is found near the place where the dead teenagers were last seen alive and Wesley finally has to face a terrible truth ...and a hunt to the death.
Wesley Peterson is back, and with less domestic angst than in recent books, although that's made up for by some of his colleagues' ever-complicated personal lives. Meanwhile his best friend Neil has been hired for a most unusual dig by a bunch of highly pretentious individuals. Not my favourite of the series, but some intriguing twists that leave the reader, along with the characters, wondering what really happened.
Lord John and the Hand of Devils
by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Recorded Books
In the heart of the eighteenth century, here are haunted soldiers . . . lusty princesses . . . ghostly apparitions . . . dark family secrets. And here Lord John will face enemies who come in the guise of friends, memories in the shape of a fiery-haired Scot named James Fraser, and allies who have the power to destroy him with a single blow. . . . In Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John glimpses a stranger in the doorway of a gentlemen's club--and is stirred by a desperate entreaty to meet in private. The rendezvous forestalled by a sudden murder, Lord John will wade into a maze of political treachery and a dangerous, debauched underground society. . . . In Lord John and the Succubus, English soldiers fighting in Prussia are rattled by the nocturnal visitations of a deadly woman who sucks life and soul from a man. Called to investigate the night-hag, Lord John finds a murdered soldier and a treacherous Gypsy, and comes to the stark realization that among the spirits that haunt men, none frighten more than the specters conjured by the heart. . . . In Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Lord John is thrust into the deadly case of an exploding battlefield cannon. Wounded in the same battle, Lord John is called to tesify and soon confronts his own ghost--and the shattering prospect that a traitor is among the ranks of His Majesty's armed forces. Capturing the lonely, tormented, and courageous career of a man who fights for his crown, his honor, and his own secrets, Diana Gabaldon delivers breathtaking human drama.
I'm developing a bit of a love/hate relationship with these stories, not helped by my failure to get into the series they spun off from. A gay protagonist in a historical series is to be encouraged, but not when he spends so much time angsting over unobtainable men. The mysteries were well executed, though.
The World of Tim Frazer
by Francis Durbridge
Published by Arcturus Publishing Ltd
When Tim Frazer visits the fishing village of Henton to meet his friend and ex-business-partner Harry Denston, he is caught up in a series of mysterious events. A Russian sailor dies in a local inn after uttering the word 'Anya'. Among his belongings is a receipt from a Marble Arch garage - but Anstrov was never in London. On top of all that, Denston disappears. Then Frazer receives a call from a certain Mr. Ross, who has a startling proposition to put to him. Ross is in charge of a secret government department, and wants to offer Frazer a job. His mission - find Harry Denston.
My library copy of this was the unabridged version read by Clive Mantle, although I also have a reserve on the abridged version read by Anthony Head. Highly entertaining espionage/mystery drama made all the better by the style in which it was read. Some smashing details of the era too.