Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
The eighth book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery Series begins with a phone call in the middle of the night. Private investigator Nick Nowak is pulled into the troubled world of freelance journalist, and all around pain-in-the-ass, Christian Baylor.
When Christian can’t stop lying about the corpse in his bathroom things slip slowly out of control. Meanwhile, Nick’s relationship with former priest Joseph Biernecki takes an unexpected turn and the Federal case against Jimmy English proceeds toward trial.
Here we are, into the eighth book in the Boystown series, and as a result of all the events he has had to go through,the character of Nick Nowak is showing some real growth and changes in his life.
He’s running (when the unrelenting heat of the Chicago summer permits), he’s turned his new lakefront apartment into a home, has established routines with Mrs Harker on Sundays, Brian and his boyfriend. He’s even deepening his own relationship with the ex priest Joseph, which is different than all the others he’s had before. Yes, Nick Nowak has become monogamous, a circumstance that has surprised him and happened without him realizing it. Or talking about it with Joseph. Even Nick’s bank account is flush with money…an even rarer oddity.
So of course, things get snarled and messy for Nick just as he thinks he may have some things in his life figured out.
I think that if you haven’t especially emphasized with Nick before, perhaps because of his infidelities and outlook on sex, this is the story, that brings you over to Nick’s side. It will be in Nick’s relationship with Joseph, their dynamics, their new relationship fraught with surprises for them both. How the dynamics in the relationship is handled by both men over the course of the story is important because, not only does it feel real, grounded in the reality of the way people handle changes in their romances and perceptions, but because it marks a maturity and growth not seen before.
All the while that is happening between Nick and Joseph, Nick is heavily involved in two cases. One that is a carry over from the previous stories involving Jimmy English and Owen’s law firm. The other is new involving an old acquaintance…Christian Baylor. A pain in Nick’s proverbial ass, former friend of sorts of Harker’s, and somewhat yellow journalist looking to up his game.
Both mysteries are creative and complex. Jimmy English’s keeps evolving over the series of stories. Everytime you think Nick and the reader has a handle on where it’s going, Marshall Thornton changes direction and victim/culprits. Its compelling, dark, and a puzzle you can’t turn away from. And its not over here. The end is not is sight yet which makes me happy. Jimmy English himself is a character that I’ve come to be addicted to as well (not a healthy thing in these novels with their high body count).
So is the one with Christian and the body in the hallway. With Nick and his cases, nothing is ever straightfordward. There are layers of deceit, links to Nick or people he knows to deal with, and emotions dredged up that Nick somehow must learn to deal with. Also physical danger and tons of suspense.
How I love these stories. So many outstanding elements and all handled expertly!
One last note on one of those elements. That would be the 80’s factor here. Marshall Thornton’s use of topics and elements from that era to bring the fact that these stories and Nick live in the 1980’s vividly alive is done so well. Here AIDS has progressed throughout the US as has the research into how it is spread. People are starting to talk a little more knowledgeably about it but the fear about blood contamination is rising as well (how well I remember that phase). AIDS, its growth, has been a common factor throughout the series. You can chart the first whispers of it beginning with book 1, the chills making those early books all the more memorable because you know where it will lead you.
Other 80’s elements are mind boggling. The double floppy disk Wang computer system that’s long disappeared from memory, COMPAQs, the appearance of IMB systems and a huge brick like mobile phone costing $4,000. Amazing. There’s more of course, but those made honorable mention in my mind for this review. Thornton handles all the aspects of that era, big and small with equal respect and importance. From sports scores, to newspapers, tech equipments down to music and clothes wear….the research is impeccable. And folded into the narrative just as it should, matter of factly and not as an historic statement.
Yes, I love this, yes, I recommend it and all the others that go before and should be read in the order written. One of my top books/series of the year.
Cover art by Marshall Thornton
Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published February 21st 2016 by Kenmore Books
Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER