Thursday, March 30, 2017

Psychic Detective Mysteries, Volume 1 - Shadow's Edge

I love the concept of psychic detectives.  Author Kay Hooper has created a truly engaging world with her Special Crimes Unit and Bishop series of novels, and I honestly didn't think anyone could measure up to her storytelling abilities.

Then I stumbled across the first psychic detective novel by S.C. Wynne.  I came across the book while browsing, and when I read the premise, I figured I would give it a shot.

Liam Baker can see things.  Dead people like to visit him and tell him how they were wronged.  Some might call it a gift, others a curse.  But either way, this ability makes him useful to Los Angeles homicide detective, Kimball Thompson. Some madman is slitting the throats of young male prostitutes and then dumping their bodies in the desert with vague clues of pink feathers and the number five.  Usually Liam can talk to the spirits of the dead.  But someone is blocking him.  Someone is taunting him.

When I received the book, I realized it was self-published, so I was a bit concerned.  While self-published authors can certain be good, I knew this was a murder mystery with gay protagonists, so I held my breath when I opened the book, figuring it would be 90% gratuitous sex and 10% actual mystery.  Thankfully, Wynne proved me wrong.

The story opens with Baker waking up to the images of a dead male prostitute - one that is calling out to him for help.  Readers immediately learn that Baker is still dealing with the loss of his lover, William, who had been killed on the job nine months earlier.  William's partner, Detective Thompson, utilized Baker's psychic abilities to help him solve cases.  Only this time, they don't seem to be doing the job.

Wynne writes a very well-crafted mystery that surprised me at several turns - there is definitely nothing predictable about this story (well, except for the fact that Baker and Thompson are going to get together).  The murders are violent, the clues are vague, but the connections are there.  The only problem is, by the time Baker realizes it, it may be too late for him!  It seems the killer is a psychic as well - - one who is much more powerful than Baker, and one who can not only block Baker from talking to the deceased, but who can reach out with his mind and psychically attack him!  As the body count grows, time is running out until Thompson and Baker realize that Baker is next on the list.

The characters are engaging, and the revelations of the characters' back stories are not forced, but simply littered throughout the tale in natural ways.  By the end of the book, the reader feels like they know both Baker and Thompson pretty well (although there is certainly more to learn).

The only drawback to the book was that while, yes, the focus is the mystery and that does take up 90% or so of the book, Wynne does throw in some sex scenes.  They are not gratuitous, as they fit into the natural flow of the story and the men's budding relationship - however, they are overly graphic and unnecessarily so.  They could have been told in a more subtle way and still had the same, romantic impact.  I suppose Wynne has fallen into the same belief as many authors of gay mysteries do - you can't write a story for a male gay audience without throwing in graphic sex scenes.  That simply isn't true, and I really wish these authors would realize that!

Other than that, the book was a really great read, and I'm hoping Wynne comes back with a second volume to this series (it is advertised and sold as a series, so here's hoping that's the case!).

RATING:  7 little blue parakeets out of 10 for giving me a new psychic detective series to enjoy and hitting the mark right from the first page!

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