Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A wild and dangerous ride takes two lonely men into uncharted territory…
1943 Montana. Returning home to Montana after being wounded in the Pacific, Police Chief Robert Garrett was hoping for a little much needed Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Man. Instead, he finds himself chasing after a cold-blooded killer on Christmas Day aided—whether he likes it or not—by eager young reporter Jamie Jameson.
Jamie has idolized Police Chief Garrett most of his life. Despite a stolen birthday kiss three years earlier, he knows his feelings are unreturned. Even if Rob felt the same, there’s no room in their world for such feelings between men. But while Jamie can accept Robert not sharing his feelings, he won’t put up with being treated like a troublesome kid brother. He too has a job to do and he intends on traveling this bloody and twisted road with Robert Garrett—no matter where it leads.
Slay Ride by Josh Lanyon is a thrilling murderous little ride back into a United States still deep in WWII with all the means to that era. There’s a small town in Montana swamped with it’s losses of men to the war, deep in grief and winter cold. There is the references to the enemy, ones we find so offensive now but so common then, the food rationing and the men at home, 4F, or the wounded or other reasons. Lanyon easily recreates this historical period of depression, loss, anxiety, and uncertainty with accuracy to the times and location.
We are slid next to Police Chief Robert Garrett, getting a feel for the man who suffers physically and emotionally from the war he’s returned from but has never really left behind. He’s having dinner with a widow of a friend of his, trying to fill a hole at the holidays to big to fill for a family in pain. And we get that. He’s saved by a phone call that will jump start the proceedings for the rest of the story.
There is a crime scene and a reporter, Jamie Jameson. A young man who has had a crush on Robert for years, definitely not a safe idea in this time and age.
Homosexuality is a crime in this era. You hide it, dare not have a relationship, so laying the framework for one here is interesting. And that’s all Lanyon is doing. This is mosts definitely a very beginning of “something”. A very fragile HFN story. How that happens, all the elements that lead up to it really can’t be discussed because they all contain spoilers for this story which is concise in nature.
Once that narrative “spark” happens that sets everything in motion, all characters and the plot are propelled rapidly towards an suspenseful ending, that includes the development of a relationship between Robert and Jamie. At all happens at “breakneck” speed.
I thought the characters were well developed, Robert a tad more so than Jamie, with his background in the war, and frankly his years on experience as well. Jamie needs more history or page time or something to be Robert’s equal here.
The plot and the killer is not only plausible but chilling. You truly felt that everyone here was in danger. My only problem was in how the resolution was reported. Lanyon showed an newspaper article which contained all the facts of the “showdown”. The newspaper was small and gray, with black print. On my Kindle I couldn’t enlarge the print so I had no idea what it said so I missed out on that whole “resolution” business. As will everyone else with eyesight issues.
There was an Epilogue so I gleaned what facts I could about what happened towards the end from that but I still felt as though I had missed so much. I would imagine this is one case where getting the audio version would eliminate that factor and make this a far better story.
Slay Ride by Josh Lanyon kept with entertained and on my seat. With the exception of the use of that newspaper article to wrap things up, I thought this was a terrific historic little murder mystery, just the type Lanyon does so well.
Cover art is definitely telling you that this is a murder mystery with that cover. I approve!
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published April 29th 2019 by JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.