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Romance mysteries often work with one of the oldest literary themes: the paradox that you must learn to trust your heart, despite appearances to the contrary about a person, while at the same time you must remain aware that villains can present the most trustworthy of facades.
Joel Faulkner has to recognize those truths about the people he encounters and many others about himself if he hopes to survive New Orleans. Fresh from Natchez, the mercurial 22 year old is too needy. As the killer truthfully tells him, “you were so desperate for acceptance that you were willing to sell your ass to get it.” Yet Joel shies from NOPD Detective Michel Doucette, the one stable person he could depend on, as the cross-dressing serial killer takes out a string of visitors to the French Quarter.
In his pursuit of the killer, Michel has his own set of problems. Feeling freed by the death of his mother, the 31-year-old officer has begun to explore his sexuality more openly, if still cautiously because of his job. Finally, he outs himself to his commander to argue that he is the one to go undercover most naturally in the gay bars where the killer is picking up his victims. But the investigation does not go smoothly. At case’s end, Michel sums up, “I let my personal feelings get in the way. […] My instincts were wrong and people died because of me.” His partner, Officer Sassy Jones, is wiser in her summary: “You can’t fixate on what could have or should have happened. Use it to make you a better cop.”
The novel is a quite credible beginning of what is planned as a series, so readers will have a chance to see what Michel has learned.
THE QUARTER BOYS
By David Lennon
Blue Spike Publishing (Book Surge)
Paperback, 239 p., $13.95