Title: First You Fall (A Kevin Connor Mystery)
Author: Scott Sherman
Cover Artist: N/A
Publisher: Create Space (self published)
Genre: Murder Mystery, Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel /264 print pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: An outstanding read with all the elements for an exciting movie: A vulnerable hero, a complex exciting plot, great supporting characters, and writing talent that would eclipse much more experienced authors.
When his friend’s death is ruled a suicide, Kevin Connor–a hustler by trade, sleuth by default–sets out to prove a case of murder. It doesn’t help matters that the victim’s grown children, who disapproved of their father’s sexual orientation, are only concerned about their inheritance. But they are not Kevin’s only problem. His high-strung mother has moved in with him–and she knows nothing about his questionable . . . job. Throw in his super-hot ex – now a New York City detective – and Kevin has more than his hands full.
This is the first book in the Kevin Connor Mysteries and I was so engrossed in the plot, characters, dialogue and prose, which were all outstanding, that I re-read the story immediately and loved it even more the second time around. First You Fall truly deserved to be called a mystery. This is a fabulous read that I think would do well on the big screen because it has all the elements for an exciting movie: A vulnerable hero in Kevin Connor, a complex plot, wonderful supporting characters, and great writing. There’s also a romance of sorts between Kevin and his closeted married (but separated) ex boyfriend, as well as lots of fun with Kevin and his best friend Freddy who is just too much and the best character in the book after Kevin – a manwhore extraordinaire. They made a deadly combination when they got together to do a bit of sleuthing, whether it was in a bar after midnight or at a suspect’s place of business.
Kevin Connor is a hustler – not a street hooker by any means but a sex worker whose talents are in high demand. He’s more of a psychologist or therapist to his clients than a sex worker. Scott Sherman took a risk by creating a hero like Kevin, someone who made his living in the world’s oldest profession as it could have been very easy to regard him as sleazy, but the risk paid off handsomely. He’s small and blond, 23 years old, 5 ft 3 ins and125 lbs, quite unlike the usual hero type in terms of stature but he never let his physical size stand in his way and for me he stood tall. He suffers from AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder) and complex issues sometimes cause him to have panic attacks, but he’s planning on going to university anyway despite his problems. He was so adorable that like everyone who read First You Fall I fell for him.
As indicated in the blurb, Kevin’s friend Allen’s death was ruled a suicide by the police but he was convinced there was no way this could be true so he and Freddy decide to investigate Allen’s untimely demise. The lead detective on the case was none other than Kevin’s ex boyfriend Tony who had dumped him 7 years ago when he decided that he wasn’t gay. Of course hooking up again with Tony was the furthest thing from his mind. Right!! As the story unfolded, a can of worms opened to reveal many secrets about Allen’s adult spawn. Running down the clues of who the perpetrator could be, with Freddy’s help, was hilarious. Two more inept detectives would be difficult to find as Freddy was always on the hunt for fresh meat and his lines cracked me up throughout the story. At one point he told a likely candidate for his bed:
“How about I just take you home and plow you like the field of Idaho instead?”
Another priceless gem from Freddy:
If there was anything that made him angry, it was a good-looking man who was too horrible a person to be worth fucking. That was nature at its cruelest, and it was not to be borne.
I marveled at Scott Sherman’s skill as he interspersed the fun of “detecting” with showing how vulnerable Kevin was, especially when Tony was around. Kevin kept his feelings about his life and lifestyle close to his chest, although he revealed that he had built a wall around his heart after Tony left him because he didn’t want to get hurt again. He allowed very few of his clients to know the real Kevin except Marc who suffered from agoraphobia and lived his entire life on the Internet because he was afraid to venture into the real world. Of all Kevin’s clients Marc appealed to me the most because he was such a contradiction – talented and rich – yet he isolated himself from everyone.
The main strength of First You Fall was in the characters, who were incredibly well drawn, but Kevin’s mother was inspired. She invited herself to stay with him after suspecting her husband was cheating on her and she enticed Kevin with her delicious food so he wouldn’t throw her out. She was priceless as she ingratiated herself into his life despite his best efforts to kick her out every morning when he woke up on the couch as she snored in his bed. Keeping her away from his porn stash was a full time occupation, and trying to have sex while she was in residence was a task of herculean proportions.
First You Fall won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Mystery in 2009 and I can see why. The way the mystery was constructed was like an intricate puzzle as the author built each piece painstakingly and skillfully, and just when I thought I had it solved I was blown out of the water, again. For any novel, much less a debut effort, FYF is quite an achievement.
This is a book you won’t be able to put down because you will be sucked into the dialogue, fast paced action and the clever way the pop culture references are woven into the prose; obviously the sex is very hot; after all, Kevin is a rent boy, but it’s also very funny. You should run not walk to pick up First You Fall which is available on Amazon for the very attractive price of $2.99. This book was originally published in paperback by Alyson Books which went bankrupt, and it was then self published and released by Create Space but the print copies were hard to come by so I was very happy to see it in Kindle format. The second book in the series, Second You Sin, reviewed by Sirius is available in print, released by Kensington Books, and also in Kindle format. Book 3 will be released in the fall.
First You Fall is told in Kevin’s first person POV.