Review of After Anna by Theda Black


Rating: 2.5 stars

Will St. James and Tyler Neville are best friends and partners on the police force. And for Tyler, there’s more–he’s got feelings for Will, feelings he’s kept locked away. When Will’s girlfriend dies, Tyler supports him in every way he can, even when Will’s increasingly self-destructive behavior endangers them both on the job. And as Will withdraws further, a desperate Tyler can’t keep his feelings hidden anymore. But Will doesn’t turn his back on him. In fact, Will might have some feelings of his own he’s kept hidden. The trouble is, Tyler’s kept more than one secret. He knows something about Anna’s death–something that could end their relationship for good.

This story poses quite a few problems for a reviewer who would like to find something positive to say.  While the author shows flashes of potential as far as characters and plot structure are concerned, the choppy writing style, constantly changing pov, and lack of believable character backstory wash away the high points from the very beginning.  I liked the basic structure of the story.  It begins with the death of Will’s girl friend from a drug overdose, and then each chapter moves the story forward so many days, i.e., Chapter 3, 4 days later.  Not a bad idea but each time frame is a different amount of days, so that it is Will at 8 days of recovering or to 14 days later, not that much of a difference to divide it up into chapters.  Good idea poor execution.  I also had trouble with the dialog, most of the time I had to double check to see which character was speaking which line.  Chopping delivery combined with poor identification made following any scene tedious.    The story loses it’s momentum when the reader has to struggle with poorly framed dialog and story structure.

Will is mourning the loss of his girl friend but gosh darn it if he doesn’t keep kissing his partner at the drop of a hat.  His love for his girlfriend never seems the least bit based in reality and neither does his newly found lust for his partner. He gets drunk, runs off, comes back, exhibiting all the self control of a 12 year old, with my apologies to 12 year olds everywhere. Will St. James is an insubstantial outline of a main character.  Tyler Neville has a little more depth to him, but that is not saying much.

My biggest problem is that both characters are detectives and partners on the police force.  They are supposed to be seasoned officers yet time and again they rush into knowingly dangerous situations without backup, bust down doors into parties without identifying themselves, past drug-laden tables to beat down a target.  One partner is out of control due to his grief.  One covers for him. Still no matter the situation  both have an absolute lack of knowledge of police procedures between them.  Reading this is like watching an old Starskey and Hutch episode with Starsky and Hutch demonstrating superior police procedure than the two detectives within this story.

Finally, one of the most heatedly argued subject these days is the inclusion of m/f sexual content within the m/m genre.  So be warned. This story contains some explicit m/f sexual scenes that most readers of m/m fiction will find unnecessary and unwanted.  For me it was just another indication of how far off track the author went with her story.  Call this a tale of promise derailed.

Cover:  So so. Seems typical of self published authors with little graphic or design experience.  I mean really do either of these twinks look like seasoned police officers to you?

Available as a free read at Amazon.