Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
In the tenth installment of the award-winning Boystown Mysteries. it’s Christmas 1984, and Nick is busy juggling a couple of cases with his hectic personal life. Sugar Pilson has decided to marry and has asked him to check up on her fiancé. Meanwhile, he’s hired to investigate a shady financial planner at Peterson-Palmer.
When the two cases begin to have too much in common, Nick searches for the link. Only to find out that he himself might be the link.
In Gifts Given, Nick Nowak and his friends are heading towards Christmas. Nick is fumbling to find a gift for Joseph, he lacks a steady source of employment as he has given up working for Owen’s law firm and Jimmy English after the last disastrous series of events, and Mrs Harker isn’t feeling well.
As with all things Nick, the old and familiar seem to circle back around as a previous employer has come to him with a case. He wants Nick to investigate his current in house investigator and the financial planner there as well. At the same time his friend/former client/Chicago socialite Sugar Pilson needs his services too. It seems that she wants her current boyfriend investigated. And, oh, yes, someone seems to be following her.
Yes, Nick has a full schedule and that doesn’t even include Christmas dinner, murderous attempts on his life, and more worries about his relationship with Joseph.
If I have to make a note, the overall tone here is somber, sad, and, while moving, as glum as I’ve seen Nick in a while. Its as thought the hope I saw has just about flickered out by the end of the story, which is something I’m missing. Not that this isn’t realistic or true to form for Nick or the circumstances he finds himself in.
Its just every now and again, I’d love to see Nick win, one or two. Maybe just one. Outright. Life can give him that, right?
Instead, here, with one complex turn and revelation after another, Nick ends up delving deeper and deeper into a convoluted mystery that has it hooks into the past, Who’s I won’t reveal but clearly it will stretch into more than one story if my guesses are correct.
I’m “enjoying” just how all the puzzle pieces are fitting together, even if the end result might make my heart hurt. I suspect it will ache quite a lot. Plus a villain slipped away…to reappear again in another story?
The writing is crisp, the storyline, dark and involved, the overall tone more emotional and heavy, reflective but then again Nick is changing. His inner circle wider, including Ross who is HIV positive who lives with Nick and Joseph. A group of friends, an ability to accept help and need people which is a far cry from the Nick we meet in the first story. This is a far more vulnerable, open, and older Nick. One I fear for more, one for whom the losses are coming.
As if he hasn’t had enough.
But it ends with a wedding, such as it was. A temporary calm that was a small gift that NIck accepted.
What a series. I highly recommend them all.
Cover art by Marshall Thornton/
Sales Link: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 213 pages
Published November 17th 2017
Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2018)
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