WARNING - this book and its review are definitely NOT meant for children!
That little disclaimer out of the way, I was surprised when I stumbled upon this fourth Mitch Mitchell mystery on Amazon a month or so ago. I read James Lear's three previous novels in this series - The Back Passage, The Secret Tunnel, and A Sticky End (and yes, all three are definite innuendos) - and aside from the unnecessary graphic sex within the books, they are actually really well plotted murder mysteries. Lear's protagonist, Edward "Mitch" Mitchell, an American doctor who is thriving (in so many ways) in England, finds that he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to ask the right questions and solve some rather unspeakable murders (and by "unspeakable," I'm referring to the fact that in the early 1900s, any acts of love or otherwise between two men was unspeakable and in Mitchell's case, led to murders!).
What he finds instead, much to his liking, is not only one man after another - but another murder to solve!
Lear provides a very interesting romp through the Continental hotel on the island of Gozo - a hotel that caters to a very unique clientele. The new owners, a young couple from England, are doing their best to follow in the previous owners' steps, but they find it somewhat difficult when the regular guests become more and more demanding. Mitch, though, finds the accommodations just to his liking, and it provides him just the right place to make contact with the right individuals who can help him solve the case of the young lieutenant's apparent suicide - or, as Mitch believes it to be - murder! Plenty of suspects, plenty of motives, and lots of secrets to be uncovered - and when a second body turns up, mirroring the death of the lieutenant, Mitch knows he's on the right track to finding the killer. An aging star of the stage ... an uptight religious couple ... a young priest ... a has-been artist with a liking for boys ... a thieving young man still in the closet ... and a hostile military and police force who will do anything to keep scandal away from their ranks. Mitch definitely has to watch his step, while at the same time watching the bountiful and beautiful men of the Mediterranean.
The big reveal is definitely very Agatha Christie-esque and provides a fantastic pay-off for readers that will leave you very satisfied and hoping that Lear will give us more of these mysteries in the future. If he would just tone down Mitch's sexual escapades, then these would definitely be books for any and all mystery fans to enjoy!
RATING: 6 rocky cliffside paths out of 10 due to the completely unnecessary explicit sex scenes that added nothing to the story and only served to take the reader away from the wonderfully written murder mystery itself!