Disclaimer: if promiscuity, open relationships, or perceived cheating are deal breakers for you, this isn’t your book.
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Detective Sergeant James Henderson’s remarkable gut instincts have put him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector. But the advancement of his career has come at a cost. Gay, posh and eager to prove himself in the Metropolitan Police, James has allowed himself few chances for romance.
But when the murder of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, all that changes. His investigation leads him to a circle of irresistibly charming men. And though he knows better, James finds himself enticed into their company.
Soon his desire for photographer Ben Morgan challenges him to find a way into the other man’s lifestyle of one-night stands and carefree promiscuity. At the same time, his single murder case multiplies into a cruel pattern of violence and depravity.
But as the bodies pile up and shocking secrets come to light, James finds both his tumultuous private life and coveted career threatened by a bitter legacy.
Bitter Legacy is a bloody brilliant debut book. See the Britishism? I had to set the tone because not many authors can pull it off. For once, some try to play it down to make the story more accessible for worldwide audiences. Others only have research to go by, but Dal Maclean makes the reader travel with her characters. We are with them for the full ride even when the story is narrated in its entirely from James’s POV.
Needless to say, the settings, language, meals, and everything in-between engages the reader from the very beginning. Yes, the Oxford comma was necessary in the previous sentence. All these serves as the perfect background for a well-presented story, filled with police procedures and investigations. Perhaps my only complaint in this regards would be Scrivenor’s authenticity. It was hard to follow when he spoke more than two or three sentences at a time, but by the end of the story, I was used to him and his brogue.
Now to the characters. Everyone, from Ben’s lovers to the murder victims had a layered background. There were no flat or unnecessary characters, and each one of them provided a clue to solve the overall mystery. The cultural diversity was refreshing, and it displayed London’s diversification. Family ties, friendships, and acquaintanceship played a central role.
As a narrator, Jamie is a complicated character. He had an entirely different life before starting to work as a Detective Sergeant. We see how those aspects influenced the way he conducted the investigations and how he related to others. For some, Jamie can be considered weak or malleable. There were many moments in which I wanted to shout, don’t do it or don’t give in. But in reality, his strength comes from the way he gave everything he had for others. And we couldn’t discard his physical attributes and intelligence.
Ben isn’t a traditional main character. Even when the story is mostly about Jamie’s life and work, his relationship with Ben colors the readers’ view of the events being investigated, and Jamie’s self-worth. Their relationship goes beyond the physical; it’s complicated and intrinsic to the central mystery. The author did an excellent job keeping the reader from figuring out if they love or hate him. The more we learn about him, the more we understand his actions. Even so, I wanted the final outcome to be different. I think a bittersweet ending could have worked better than the HEA.
The antagonist is one of the friendliest I had seen in a long time. I wanted this person to play a bigger role throughout the story instead of just showing here and there, but in the end, it worked. I had hope for redemption, but sometimes we have to let go of our darlings. And figuring out who/whom had the bitter legacy was a welcome surprise.
I expected this story to be a psychological thriller but not to this extent. The way the murders and the characters are weaved together show a complexity many authors try to evade. This book works because every plot line presented was equally important to the overall idea. The number of sex encounters in the story is as important as the amount of time Jamie spent working the case and as necessary as its full cast.
To figure out the case, the reader has to pay attention to every detail no matter how small or insignificant it appears. The story does start slow, but as soon as it picks up, it’s hard to put down. I’m a fast reader, but this book made me want to read faster. I wanted to know what would happen next. Plus, I wanted to know if my guesses were correct.
And yes, you guessed it—I’m leaving the stories specifics out of my review. Anything I say could be considered a spoiler. I did add the disclaimer at the top, but those topics are part of the blurb. This is not an MM Romance or a police procedural novel, it both and none; perhaps a literary fiction hybrid.
Overall, this is one goes under my best reads for 2016. I don’t do re-reads, but this is a story I’d not mind listening to if it becomes available in audiobook. The complexity of the plot lines and the characters are worth re-exploring. I highly recommend this book; it’s definitely an ace. See, I did it again. 🙂
I can’t wait for another book from this author. I’m a fan of her style.
The cover is eye-catching, but hard to relate to the story. The man in it is Jamie, but the colors don’t translate as police lights. It makes me think of a sci-fi cover.
ebook, 350 pages
Published: Oct 4, 2016, Blind Eye Books
Edition Language: English