Sunday, April 23, 2017

Frat House Troopers - A Brandt and Donnelly Caper, Case File Number One

So, what do you do when you're a cop, you're straight, and you're asked to go undercover - as a male model on one of those "frat boys" website for gay viewers? That is question Officer Ethan Brandt has to ask himself when his superiors tell him he's going undercover - Brandt just never expected that undercover would turn into "under the covers"!

Xavier Mayne's first book in the Brandt and Donnelly Caper series not only introduces his two protagonists, Officer Ethan Brandt and his partner (work-wise) Officer Gabriel Donnelly, but introduces readers to a whole world of unique characters - such as Donnelly's sister, Chris; a fellow officer, Jimmy Walters; the flamboyant clothing store employee, Bryce, and his co-worker, Nestor; and a house full of frat boys and their too-good-to-be-true boss, Drake. Set in a non-specific state, Mayne (a pseudonym for an English professor at a university in the Midwest) gives readers an interesting premise - Brandt is sent undercover to get the goods (so to speak) on this online porn site, as the Attorney General wants to see the house shut down for good, utilizing tax evasion as the means to doing it.

I bought Frat House Troopers based upon the plot described on Amazon, thinking this might be another great detective / mystery series with a gay protagonist (yes, no big spoiler there - Brandt and Donnelly may claim to be straight in the beginning of the story, but it's quickly apparent that they are both closeted, and it takes this undercover mission to bring them both out and into each other's arms). The opening chapters even gave me some hope that this could be a great mystery - the characters are interesting, the dialogue natural, and the camaraderie between Brandt and Donnelly felt very real.  And while I'm not a huge fan of the romance genre, I admit to hoping the spark between the two men would eventually ignite into a relationship for them.

Sadly, though, once Brandt gets to the frat house, Mayne devolves into what most writers of gay stories seem to do - he starts pushing the explicit sex scenes.  Had there just been one, done tastefully, I might have been able to overlook it.  Had there been maybe just two scenes, I might have skimmed over them and kept going.  Instead, Mayne seems to have felt at that point that the only way he could keep readers interested was to have it one scene after another, with just a bit of story in between each scene.  While the first scene at the house might have had some actual import in the story, since Brandt was going undercover for purposes of setting up a sting to close the shop down, many of the other scenes were unnecessary (at least, there was absolutely no need for the explicit nature of the scenes) and added nothing to the story.

To make it even more sad, Mayne provided a great mystery, and he went in a completely different direction than I was expecting with the resolution - I certainly did not see that coming!  The man definitely knows how to throw in a twist that not only gives readers a surprise, but a very satisfying solution to the mystery.  His writing is really good, he can plot the heck out of a story, so why burden it down with the unnecessary explicitness of scenes that do not add anything other than "sex sells" to the book?

I will likely give the second book a chance in the hopes that Mayne tones it down a bit and starts to focus more on the mystery and the story itself - but if the second book has the same or even more scenes like this one, there will be no more on my shelves.

RATING:  3 Closet Busters out of 10 for throwing in that surprise twist at the end, which is the only thing that saved this book from being a total failure

No comments:

Post a Comment