Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Hot Pursuit by Kate McMurray

TITLE: In Hot Pursuit
AUTHOR: Kate McMurray
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 59k)
GENRE: Gay erotic romantic suspense
COST: $6.99

In the closet NYC cop Noah Tobin is burned out. The stress of his lover’s death – a death he feels responsible for, a death he couldn’t even mourn for publicly – has taken its toll, and now, his boss is sending him to Florida for a mandatory vacation. His first night in Tampa, Noah tries out a gay bar, but when the man who picks him up shows up on the news the next day as missing, he knows he has to report what he knows. The trouble starts when the man shows up again, beaten and bruised, and his best chance at staying alive is for Noah to keep an eye on him…

What starts out as a tense exploration of grief with a potential suspense plot ends up being a white-washed gay cop story I can’t help but wish was better. The story begins with Noah at his dying lover’s bedside. He’s had to sneak around for years, lie to get into the hospital, and was the actual target of the bullet that shot his lover. His emotions are wrenching and palpable, and it’s a strong way to get the reader involved. Cut to eighteen months later. He’s burned out, he’s finally seeing his lover’s murderer get the verdict he deserves, and his lieutenant is worried about him. Noah gets shipped off on vacation, ending up in Tampa. He goes to a gay bar, gets hit on by a gorgeous, slightly older man, and has sex for the first time since his lover’s death. His pick-up is actually Harry Knowles, a well-known gay entrepreneur in the region. Harry shows up on the news the next day as missing, Noah goes in with what he knows, and he slowly gets sucked into the investigation. Harry shows up later with a story about getting kidnapped. When it’s obvious his life is still in danger, Noah is tasked with protecting him.

This is where it starts to go downhill for me. Getting time to spend together should be an ideal opportunity to give Harry more depth, right? Except it never shows up. Harry never evolves beyond the entrepreneur/playboy he was when he was introduced, and I fail to understand what it is that Noah sees in him, other than he’s good-looking and generous. Noah has been too careful for too many years, and he’s seen guys like Harry before. And he doesn’t feel many qualms about the fact Harry condones drug use in his clubs? Harry even draws a small profit from it, though he does try to play up the fact that it’s just a token amount. I never understood what it was about Harry that made Noah turn a blithe eye to all the ideals he held for so long. Good sex, sure. I can see that. Harry’s an attractive guy and Noah hasn’t had any in eighteen months. But love? No, I just can’t see it.

The other drawback to this stems from the roles these two play within the structure of the suspense plot. Harry is in danger, hence being in hiding. By the very nature of what they must do to keep Harry safe, Noah and Harry are outside of the action a great deal of the time. Things happen around them, but rarely to them (though when they do, there’s glimpses of what the story could have been, if they hadn’t been closeted away for most of the story). It slows down the pace drastically, and makes it very easy to lose interest by halfway through the book. It got to the point where I just wanted to skim over all of Harry and Noah’s intimate scenes. I’d already had enough of those, and was hungry for something real to actually occur.

In the end, I was simply disappointed. There was real potential in the first part of the story, but the follow through just never occurred.


7/10 – Though mostly clean, shallow characterization of one of the heroes and the on the sidelines nature of much of the action slowed it down

Hero #1

7/10 – I’m not sure I buy how easy it was for Noah to be open in Florida when he wasn’t in NYC, but at least he had some depth to him

Hero #2

4/10 – Though a generally likeable character, there was very little there to make me believe or understand why he would fall so easily for Noah

Entertainment value

6/10 – It started out well, but as it became clear Harry’s characterization wouldn’t deepen and that they would be sidelined a good deal of the time, I got bored.

World building

7/10 – Though there are enough details for internal scenes, there’s a serious dearth of color for external ones



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