Indirection (Borealis: Without a Compass #1), Gregory Ashe
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Hodgkin & Blount
Tags: Mystery, Some Self-Indulgence, Meoww, LGBTQ, Gay Romance, Series
Length: 312 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
Rabid readers. Backbiting authors. A romance convention from hell.
Shaw Aldrich and his best friend, boyfriend, and partner, North McKinney, are doing great, thanks. The aftermath of their search for the Slasher has finally settled down. Their private investigation agency is thriving. And after years of missed opportunities, they’re finally together. Sure, work might be taking up every spare minute, and their time together as a couple might have evaporated—but that’s normal, right?
When an author asks for their help investigating threats against a gay romance convention, Shaw sees an opportunity to shake up their routine and maybe have some fun. But the convention isn’t what he expects. Between the rabid fans and the backbiting authors, the death threats—which seem totally baseless—are the least of North and Shaw’s worries.
Until, that is, a bestselling author is poisoned in the middle of a panel. Then Shaw and North must race against the clock to find the killer before he (or she) escapes—and before the convention ends. But romance authors are more complicated than either North or Shaw expects, and a treacherous web knits the suspects together.
Shaw and North will have to unravel a skein of lies and half-truths to uncover the killer. It doesn’t help that, on top of everything else, Shaw just wants to find his next favorite book—and, if it isn’t asking too much, have sex with North at least one more time in his current incarnation.
Indirection is the first book in a follow-up series; read North and Shaw’s first adventures in The Borealis Investigations, beginning with Orientation.
Does Indirection need another review? Probably not, but I was supposed to be doing this with my son, however that sneaky ingrate abandoned me to go off and hate-read Stephanie Meyer’s Midnight Sun. He and Stephanie have an interesting relationship. It’s a mood. Anyway, I can’t compete with that kind of dedication? Passion? I think some of the annoying ally-spruiking female authors and desperate older gay male authors, and the gay-fetishizing female readers, especially those who go to
GayRomLit Queer Expectations, could apparently do with less enthusiasm or passion… so maybe just me reviewing this on my own is a good thing, right? Feel free to ignore me, I may be irrelevant anyway. Ha! I see what I did there.
Anyway, this book is catty, or ME-OWW as my late mother-in-law used to love saying. She was on a first name basis with ME-OWW because she loved a bit of drama, a lot of the salacious, did dear old Val, and she loved that one word to describe it. And with such Dame Edna stylized glee, too. ME-OWW, possums. Miss you, Val. I hope you found the salaciousness and drama up to pussy’s bow in your afterlife.
I read this book and then I walked away and came back and reread it of a night to let it sink in and see what I really thought. I wasn’t so keen on the ‘jokes on you’ element of it all the first, or second, time. The author skates into disrespect territory of the genre readership, and there’s a distinct ‘us and them’ vibe. “Like, it’s a joke, ladies, relax… Pssst, maybe it’s real, wink-wink.” So there’s that. However, there’s also the latter part of the book that I liked on both reads. While I could have done without the con, I really could have, I would have missed some incredibly funny times and lines between Shaw and North. I loved North’s keeping it real, sarcastic remarks.
“Queer Expectations Convention? Is that right?”
“Yes. The premiere gay romance literature convention in the world.”
“The only,” North coughed into his fist.
But Yasmin had heard him, and she shook her head. “Oh no, there’s at least one more.”
If you read this book and have never read a gay romance or mm book before, this would seriously have to make you think twice and run for the hills, although if you were Val you might embrace the me-oww side of this lit. Am I allowed to call it literature? Because people inside the genre don’t seem to think so, and people outside the genre, well, better left unsaid, eh? The people depicted at the con, the language around it, sheesh, I seriously wonder why I read in this genre or how genuine people can write in it. I’m working within the parameters of this being fictional jokey goop, but it felt totally me-oww to me.
“Let’s not get into your love life again, Clarence,” Serenity said with a barbed smile. “Nobody needs a repeat of last year.”
Mary Angela looked down into her drink. Jerry and Rodney shuffled the flatware in front of them. Clarence turned even redder.
“Really nice,” Heidi said. “It’s getting a lot easier to understand how you write all those bitchy hags who hang all over your protagonists.”
“And for Scotty, it all happens magically, easily, with a wave of his gay magic wand. These dumb, stupid bitches who read this genre, they get their motors cranked knowing that an authentic gay man is writing this stuff, and that’s all that matters. I bust my butt writing good books, and they do well, and I’m proud of that. But Scotty? He could shit in a bag, and these bitches would buy ten thousand copies of it.”
It’s a tone setter. ^^ You’re welcome, Val.
But, you know, there are a few of us readers who chat quietly behind the scenes and have always been of the opinion that there’s disproportionate ego to genre size in mm. And, wow, speaking of ego, enter Scotty Carlson. The feature author of the Queer Expectations con. He’s a charmer. Scotty is universally
loved, despised brownnosed in the genre but also worshipped in spite of for his mean-spirited (gay) male author ways. He loves to talk in the singularly most crude language about his sexual relationship with hubby Josue, and he shits on all and sundry around him. But, squee, he has work out vids with sexy Josue by his side, and those shakes of theirs, not tremors, protein shakes, they’re also sexy, apparently. They’re the envy of the mm readership world.
But Scotty had to go. So the guys have something more than those threatening notes to Yasmin, the co-ordinator of Queer Expectations. Now there’s a murder for Shaw and North to solve. Who wanted to kill Scotty? Well, fuck. Take a number, hon. Pretty much everyone. They hate-loved him? Love-hated him? I’ll have to consult with the oracle for the correct term. Whatever. He was an equal opportunity arsehole. He didn’t especially like readers or his fellow authors, he especially shit on female authors – how dare they write gay men! Tsk! Such horrible creatures, those females writing about the gay stuffz. But… the titles Ashe came up with for the author’s books were a hilarious mock in and of themselves. I lol-ed at their level of batshit.
“You should read my books. Here: Pierced by My Dragon-Mate’s Fang: Babysitter Confessionals Volume 12. It’s only fifteen dollars.”
I mean… thank god this author has sensible titles, right?. Fucking me-oww, Val. Fucking. Me. Oww!
But the best parts of this book for me were things like the way Shaw and North would go off on a tangent while they were talking to someone or interrogating them, the way it frustrated the hell out of everyone. Not me. I found it to be sheer perfection. I also enjoyed Shaw thinking he’s now a level-five psychic. The juxtaposition of Shaw’s ‘woo’ to North’s ‘don’t even’. The funny as hell humour.
This book has a few cases going on. Aldrich Acquisitions is the mainstay of the business now, Shaw’s family’s company, along with side gigs, and Uncle Ronnie’s dodgy cases, including forcing them to hunt down Tony Gillman – because blackmail – someone Ronnie says is beating up gay guys and needs to be stopped. Only Ronnie hasn’t got an altruistic bone in his body, so what’s his real angle? And there’s the case at the con that Yasmin hires them to be the “gay detectives” at, but what’s the actual deal with that? North says no, as per usual, and Shaw says yes, as per usual. Then it turns out that Shaw is not only a super fan but a writer of erotic gay stories set in a library. Get out of town! I simultaneously laughed and eyerolled. Look, it was cute, I guess, but I could have lived my life without Shaw suddenly being into gay romance and writing it. However, it helps marshmallow the me-oww blow, along with North hating on the con while really giving us all permission to like what we like. Oh, and all the people who want to leave the genre to write real literature. Uh, you are writers. What do I know, but I say embrace what you do or don’t do it. It’s an interesting genre to read in when it isn’t stabbing itself in the back, or the face.
So Uncle Ronnie being back was always the promise of things to come. Urgh. He makes me feel like I need a syphilis shot. But, like the malevolent pustule he is, just being in the book here and there is enough to aggravate me a whole lot and make me wish he’d faceplant onto the pointy end of a pineapple.
You might think I’m being ME-OWW about his book. I surely am. But I also appreciated a fair part of it, hence the rating, but not all of it. I’ve given my reasons above.
However, Shaw and North remain an addiction of mine in and of themselves, irrespective of the backdrop, so I come back to them with alacrity. They are always a frustrating yet lovable cocktail blend – at first taste it’s a funky brew, then you settle in to the flavour, then you’re addicted to it, then you keep reordering that goddamn cocktail. Gregory Ashe knows how to write some randomly fascinating happenings. He gives great character as well – incredibly important. I absolutely care about these guys. Then there’s that humour.
It’s also worth noting that this book is far lighter in overall tone than the original three books, the introspection and existential angst are pretty much missing. They just rag on each other now, point sticks at one another. Why this is the ‘adjacent’ series to the original I don’t really understand. It follows on after. Same characters. Same idea. But if I look at the Somerset and Hazzard books they seem to follow a similar trend. Still… *shrugs. No matter, though, I’m currently here for the Shaw and North Show. It takes a lot for me to read what is currently 5 books in a a series in such a short space of time. That says a lot about the writing of Ashe and probably even more about my perverse self. Misdirection review soon. Meanwhile, 4 Stars for Indirection.