Friday, November 6, 2009

The Geography of Murder by P.A. Brown

TITLE: The Geography of Murder
AUTHOR: P.A. Brown
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 79k)
GENRE: Gay BDSM mystery erotic romance
COST: $5.99

Waking up next to a dead man is frightening enough. Getting hauled away in handcuffs for his murder is even worse. Jason Zachary protests his innocence over and over to Detective Alex Spider, and when DNA evidence places someone else at the scene, he’s finally released. But Alex isn’t done with Jason, not by a long shot. Not now that he knows the young man is a very willing sub…

When a book has a plethora of technical errors, it has to excel in other areas in order for me to fall for it. Whether that’s the romance, the setting, or the characters, something has to compensate for the fact that mistakes muddy the reading experience. In this novel’s case, there just isn’t any one aspect that shines brightly enough to distract me from the multitude of grammatical errors that tarnish it.

The story is told in alternating 1st person perspectives, jumping between Jason and Spider from chapter to chapter. On the one hand, it allows the reader to follow the procedural aspect of the plot, with much better ease than the romance angle is served. On the other, it’s not that skillfully done, as many of the technical mistakes in this come from inaccurate verb tenses. It doesn’t happen as much when they’re doing something as it does when they’re thinking something. But it gets worse as the story goes on, pulling me out of it more and more often. There are also consistency errors, like when Alex goes to a taxidermist to try and learn more about a clue, a stuffed raven, and wavers on mentioning exactly what the bird is because that’s one of the pieces of evidence they’re holding back from the media. Yet, when the paper runs a full article about Alex and his less than stellar progress on the case, it starts out with, “What do ravens and bloody trophies and horrific murders done in the name of vigilante justice have in common?” Things like this don’t help the reading experience.

Because I wanted to love this. One of the things that drew me in from the start was the notion that these were not your typical m/m heroes. Jason is a user, with serious esteem issues, while Alex is a control freak who lacks the ability/desire to get attached to anyone. Frankly, neither guy is very appealing on an aesthetic level, yet somehow, there’s an appeal in seeing them get together. I had better luck getting attached to Jason, however, when Alex’s control issues and BDSM tendencies slip into what felt like abuse to me. It felt like abuse to him, too, because it prompts him to do some serious soul searching, as well as abuse to Jason. But abusive men are one of my hot buttons. They automatically raise all my hackles, and I very rarely recover from it. I recognize there is a fine line to be walked with BDSM stories, but when both leads recognize behavior as abusive, it’s clear which side of the line that action falls on. Because of this, any interest I had in seeing Alex happy disappeared, and without wanting to see one of the heroes get a happy ending, it’s next to impossible to care about the romance.

As I said earlier, the mystery aspect of the story fares much better than the romance, and thankfully, takes a lot of page time. It was worth finishing for that, but for any sense of emotional satisfaction for the men, it fell far short.


6/10 – A lot of the technical niggles kept pulling me out of the story, though it certainly worked as a procedural

Hero #1

7/10 – Damaged and believable

Hero #2

6/10 – The borderline abuse merited a better resolution than he got

Entertainment value

6/10 – I liked the mystery part of this so much more than the romance

World building

8/10 – The cop world was crisp and believable



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