A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A solid murder mystery and a skillfully done deliberate confusion around honest criminals, dirty cops, undercovers, drug dealers and the question who rather to follow: your heart or your mind?
Since long before the shooting, James has been dishonest. He’s been evasive. Oh, and there’s that minor little detail he withheld from Brian about being a gambling-addicted drug dealer. He may not be the best boyfriend in the world, but he begs Brian to believe he’s no murderer. In fact, whoever did pull the trigger undoubtedly wants to finish what they started, and Brian is the only one James trusts to keep him safe.
But how much is Brian willing to risk to protect a man he may not even know?
This is the sequel to Cover Me, reviewed here. The books are related loosely enough that Trust Me can be read as a standalone, although the main characters from Cover Me, Andrew and Nick, play a major supporting role here.
Homicide detective Brian Clifton thought his boyfriend James cheated on him, but the reason for James’s recent evasiveness is much more complicated and puts even more of a strain to their relationship. Or what could be more complicated than a murder suspect being the boyfriend of the detective who’s investigating the case?
The case puts Brian between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there is a grueling multiple murder, with several cops among the victims, which Brian is desperate to solve. Evidence pointing toward James as the major suspect is popping up left and right, and the more the investigations proceed, the more the noose tightens around James’s neck. The mere fact that they were togehter, even if Brian hadn’t been aware of James’s criminal activities, has put him into a bad place already. He might come off unscathed if he turned James in immediately, but…there are his emotions, the strong feelings he has for James, and his gut feeling that keeps shouting at him that James is innocent, no matter the evidence against him, no matter the lies James told him in the past.
At first, Brian is the only one who’s willing to give James the benefit of doubt; even his friends Andrew and Nick, although they consent to help James, do so only out of friendship for Brian. However, over the course of the investigation, more and more shady facts come up. The borders between victims and perpetrators begin to blur, and nobody is what they appear to be. Brian needs to trust James, not only with his reputation and his career – as it turns out, Brian has to trust James with his life. The only thing he’s left is hope that he hasn’t misplaced his trust
This is one of those books where the mystery plot, viewed from a distance, doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a mark of this author’s masterful writing that this didn’t bother me in the slightest as I read the book.
While reading, I was completely immersed in all those willfully misleading narrative threads, in the game of who-is-who, who did what and who wants whom dead for what reason. The mystery in itself was so delicious I completely suspended disbelief without even noticing it. (my only niggle, and the reason why this book isn’t a five-star-read, was the fact that the real villain jumped off the page right from the moment he made his first appearance. I could’ve smacked the investigators and Brian alike for not recognizing him on the spot. Then again, we wouldn’t have a story if they did, now would we?)
The other part of the plot, the romance between Brian and James, was even better, at least as far as I’m concerned. Brian has some really serious problems to think about, what with the possible threats to his job, or even to his life; or wondering if his judgement might be clouded by his emotions for James, a man who told him so may lies that he feels as if he never knew him at all. There’s also the fact that IF James played Brian for a fool, his friend Andrew will likely plunge into ruin alongside him. The author used this internal and external conflict to maximum effect, creating a highly erotic and – inherently – absolute believable tension between the lovers.
For those who, like me, wanted more Andrew and Nick from Cover Me, those two are completely their likeable selves here, and I for my part loved to watch them move another step along the way in their relationship.
This was a fast-paced, action filled mystery tightly interwoven with an intense romance which I enjoyed greatly. Highly recommended.