The Saint of San Francisco

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Title: The Saint of San Francisco
Author: Jerry Sacher
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: The Saint of San Francisco
Length: Novel/250 PDF pages
Genre: M/M romance/Mystery/Suspense
Rating: 2 stars out of 5

A guest review by LadyM

Review summary: Schizophrenic narrative style, unlikable protagonists with unfathomable motivations, thin and unbelievable plot made this book unsatisfying.

Blurb: After finding himself still depressingly single on his thirty-second birthday, Jeremy Haniver accepts an invitation to move to San Francisco. Though he falls in love with the Castro and the city, it’s not enough to cure him of his loneliness or the depression that dogs him. He almost throws his life away, but fate intervenes when Jeremy meets Mark Caparelli.

Mark is a former Marine and a detective with the San Francisco PD. Unfortunately, he’s also seeing someone else—at first. Life finally seems to be going Jeremy’s way, until a homicide breaks up his first date with Mark. Jeremy desperately wants to get over his past and start a new life with Mark, but they have to catch the killer first… before he catches them.

Review:

There were several reasons I wanted to read this book: it was written by a new author, I liked the blurb, it was marketed as mystery/suspense which is one of my favorite genres and the shallow part of me really, really liked the cover. Unfortunately, the book was unsatisfactory on many levels, so I’ll try to highlight the most important ones.

The first problem for me was the narrative style. The point of view alternates between first person POV of Jeremy and multiple third person POVs, often from one paragraph to the next and even from one sentence to the next. The third person POV isn’t consistent either: sometimes it’s the close third person POV (like in the case of Mark), sometimes it’s slipping into the third person omniscient POV. It was quite jarring. Additionally, Jeremy often talks directly to the reader, thus breaking the illusion. As a result, it was impossible for me to immerse myself in the story or connect to the characters. It felt like watching a movie completely told in voiceover or shot from bird’s eye view.

There was not a single likable or intelligent character in this book. In and of itself, this is not really a flaw. There are many great unlikable characters in the literature. But, the motivations of these particular characters are vague at best, behavior erratic and illogical, they often contradict themselves within the same paragraph. Jeremy in particular is hard to like and understand. At the beginning of the story, he tries to kill himself by jumping off the bridge. He fails, but it is never clear why he does it and it is never addressed during the novel. Was it because he was lonely? Because he didn’t find the right man? Because he wasn’t allowed to become a monk since he was gay? All of the above? Mark is aware of his suicide attempt, yet he never talks to Jeremy about it. Jeremy bemoans the fact that he can’t find the right man, but it is him who leaves most the men because they bore him. He left one of his boyfriends because he was wearing flip-flops. Can you say shallow? This is one stellar example of Jeremy:

Maybe not, but he’s a typical man. They all bore me after a while.”
“Bore you?” Patrick raised his eyebrows.
“Yes, they all bore me immensely after a while. They talk a lot about how much you mean to them, but under the handsome face, the muscles, and the big dick, they fail to hold my interest very long. European men are the worst; they think that they dress well and are the greatest lovers, but there’s no depth, only a thin veneer.

Jeremy’s reasons for investigating Tom’s murder aren’t clear or convincing. He says several times that he will abandon the investigation and then changes his mind almost immediately. He hides things that need to be shared with the police. The final straw was when Mark did something which would be exceptionally hurtful to anyone else. Jeremy forgives him at once (and I mean at once, after maybe 5 pages in 250 page novel), but not before he blackmails him into helping him with the investigation. He is disrespectful to Mark and often rude to his friends and people who try to help him. Additionally, his religiousness seemed artificial, something tacked on to his character.

Mark may not be as unlikable as Jeremy, in spite of his one bad decision; however, he is so bad at his job that you have to wonder how he became the cop in the first place, let alone a detective. He zeroes in on the clue which can be explained in dozens of different ways, yet misses the most obvious lines of investigation. I, personally, didn’t understand what he saw in Jeremy and vice versa. Still, I think the bad guy takes the cake in the stupid department. All he had to do was to sit tight and the chances are he would have never been caught, especially considering who was investigating the case. But, not only he attracts unnecessary attention to himself, he leads Jeremy to the murder weapon the cops have missed. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. All of the main characters seem immature, although they are in their early or mid thirties.

Finally, there are problems with the plot itself. I often hear people saying that some story wasn’t realistic. The thing with fiction of any kind is that it doesn’t need to be realistic – it needs to be believable. While we are reading a book or watch a movie, we need to believe that the events could play out the way they did. To say that this particular plot stretched believability is an understatement. There are so many examples that I had to limit myself, otherwise the review will be way too long.

Let’s start with the fact that Mark takes Jeremy to the crime scene, to the very room someone was killed in, and nobody bats an eye. Why would they when there’s a reporter already on the scene. The case is dropped by the police because the victim’s parents insisted on it. I can’t imagine the police giving up the case on civilians’ wishes no matter who they are. Well, maybe the President. :P The cops don’t reopen the case even when one of the witnesses is killed as well. In fact, the cops come across as so grossly incompetent (Mark included) that comparison to the Keystone Kops isn’t a terrible exaggeration. Jeremy spends a lot of time in Mark’s office. They hug and kiss where everyone can see them. I know San Francisco is a liberal city, but I didn’t think the rules of workplace behavior were different as well. Jeremy doesn’t really investigate – he is more attracting attention to himself until the murderer decides to take him out. He does not really solve the case, the murderer practically reveals himself. The connections between the characters and their decisions are convoluted or rely on coincidences. We are told about characters’ past and history, given descriptions of their personalities, but we are shown very little. Finally, the dialogue is stilted, often running in circles.

I always hate giving the bad review, especially when it comes to a new author. I know how much effort it takes to write a book and publish it. In the end, it’s a collective effort and the responsibility for the success or lack thereof is collective too. I was thinking about this while I was reading this book. The author has a decent writing style (if you can forget what is written) and there is a seed of decent story in this book. If someone cut maybe 100 pages out of the book (the unnecessary repetitions, side stories, etc.) and vigorously edited the rest, it might have been even more than decent. As it is, go into this book with realistic expectations. Who knows, maybe your experience will be different. After all, this is only my opinion.

17 thoughts on “The Saint of San Francisco

  1. Feliz

    Oh no, I had high expectations about this. Like you, I felt attracted by the blurb and the genre.
    Well, thanks to you, I’ll probably spare myself a disappointment. I’ll put it on the bottom of my TBR.

    1. LadyM Post author

      Hi, Feliz! I too had high expectations, but was really disappointed. As long as you know what to expect, you don’t have to worry.

      I will be curious to see what you think about it when it finally reaches the yop of your TBR pile. :)

  2. Wave

    LadyM
    I’m so glad that you took this book away from me.

    Wonderful incisive review and I hope that the writer takes your comments to heart if he writes another book. What a disaster and totally unbelievable police procedures. It’s too bad because the blurb was well written — I guess someone else wrote that.

    1. LadyM Post author

      Hi, Wave! You know I’m always greedy when it comes to mysteries – the book just didn’t work for me this time.

      Since I’m reading on my PC, it wasn’t possible (well, it was possible, but not recommendable) to throw the book against the wall when I came to the part with the reporter on the floor where crime was committed. *sigh* It’s really too bad, the author does have a decent style. More dedicated editor would have certainly helped.

    2. Lasha

      I was thinking of buying this one (the cover was so pretty. Yes, I am shallow!). I will now be skipping because of bad police procedures in the plot. And truthfully? I hate reading about stupid cops. :grin:

      1. LadyM

        I hate reading about stupid cops.

        Lasha, you would have a fit over these particular cops, so stay far, far away.

        Shallow!? Nooooooo! We are simply appreciative of natural beauty. :wink:

  3. GR

    LadyM, I wish I’d seen your review before I bought this. Dreamspinner has published some excellent books, but the very uneven quality of their list constantly frustrates me.

    1. LadyM

      GR, who knows, maybe you actually like the book and your money wasn’t wasted. :smile:

      Yes, the quality of their books is all over the place – it’s hard to know what to expect, especially with new authors.

      1. GR

        Sadly, no, I did actually buy it and DNF. I think Dreamspinner really does a disservice to both readers and authors.

  4. Sirius

    You were not the only one who was attracted by the cover :). Can I tell you how much I was attracted by the cover? OMG can I invite both of them for the cup of tea? ;) The one with longer hair is so my type. Yumm. Oh yeah the book, so I am trying to be good and I looked at Good reads and I was really worried after reading the reviews, so when I saw you will be reviewing it, I was so delighted :) Sigh, sounds quite messy unfortunately.

    Thank you for the review and Wave can I have them?

    1. LadyM

      You can have them, Sirius! Everything is easier with two hunks for company. Though I didn’t buy that “cup of tea”. :razz: :wink:

    1. LadyM

      You are welcome, Helena! Yes, it’s too bad. I’m a mystery fan and I had high expectations, but the book just didn’t live up to them. :sad:

  5. Dani Alexander

    I always hate to see a bad review in the genre I write in. It makes me super nervous.

    OTOH I did extensive research into police procedure for my story which tacked on another four months of writing, so, while I feel for this author, my sympathy lessons with every day of my research lol.

    Right now I’m writing the follow up story and I’m having to wait for the FBI person to get back to me on two questions. If this holds like my last story, I’ll be waiting for two weeks.

    Anytime I feel the need to gloss over procedure and make up things as I go along, I come across a review like this. And I go do something else while I wait for answers to my questions haha. :grin:

    It is awesome to know so many people are interested in m/m mystery/suspense though. I was wondering if there were.

    1. LadyM

      Hello, Dani! I have to say that, unlike Lasha above, I don’t have a personal experience with the police forces/procedures/etc. – I just read and watched a gazillion mysteries/police procedurals/suspence stories/thrillers. What I always expect from these stories though is common sense. If you can’t apply it, research is god. ^^

      I’m looking forward to reading Shattered Glass. It’s a mystery and the cover is lovely. :smile:

  6. Anita

    Why am I not surprised this is a Dreamspinner Press book? They used to publish excellent books most of the time, but nowdays it seems like they think that quality is overrated.

    1. LadyM

      It does seem that the quality of their books is all over the place lately. I do hope that is just a temporary thing. :sad:

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