A MelanieM Review: Bloodlines (Boystown #7) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

WINNER LAMBDA AWARD GAY MYSTERY

In the seventh book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery series, Private Investigator Nick Nowak finds himself simultaneously working two cases for his new client, law firm Cooke, Babcock and Lackerby. A suburban dentist has been convicted of murdering her adulterous husband.

Nick is asked to interview witnesses for the penalty phase of the trial—and possibly find the dead man’s mistress. At the same time, he’s deeply involved in protecting Outfit underboss Jimmy English from a task force out to prosecute him for a crime he may not have committed. While juggling these cases Nick slowly begins to rebuild his personal life.

In Bloodlines, Nick Nowak is slowly putting his life back together after the shattering events of Murder Book.  He’s back in the investigative business and working for his friend Owen’s law  firm on several cases at once, one of which he has personal ties to.

On the home front?  Several things have shown him its more than time for him to find a new apartment,  issues with teenager Terry  arise and Mrs. Harker becomes an ever bigger part of Nick’s life.

Thornton’s ability to weave so many different emotional threads through his stories, keep them all vividly alive and connected at the right places to NIck and the reader, while pushing through not one but two murder/mystery cases?  Just amazing!

Plus in Nick’s awkward, “yeah, that’s not working well” sort of way, a romance or at least a burgeoning relationship is trying to take some baby steps.  Of course, with Nick, that means sex immediately. For the other person?  Not so much.  Which leads to issues and  some very frustrating times.

The cases that Nick is working on have very deep moral/philosophical questions behind them if one is the type to ask them (as Nick is).  One case involves the older mobster Jimmy English, who has always been good to Nick, and while he may not have committed this particular murder, has most certainly committed many others in his past.  And the other case?  A woman who refuses to talk about why she killed her philandering husband.  Owen wants Nick to find out anything that will make a jury more sympathetic.  Two muddy, convoluted cases, full of roadblocks, and craters before Nick can find any answers.

How each investigation unrolls won’t be discussed but they are compelling, moving, and the results of each astonishing.  One I guessed halfway through partially but it was only a half of what was to come.  As is with most of Nick’s investigations, Marshall Thornton uses his knowledge of human behavior, and gives us another Nick Nowak novel that contains both the bittersweetness of life and some hope for the future.

Thank the gods for the perspective of Nick Nowak.  His voice makes the series. It’s caustic, knowing, rueful, determined,  reasonably kind, and always human.  I can’t get enough of it.  Bloodlines, the path to his recovery, is a great example of that. Yes, I can see why it won the Lambda Literary Award but then I don’t see why the others didn’t.

I highly recommend this story and all the others in the series.  But read them in the order they were written.  None are stand alone stories and follow along the narrative order.

Cover art matches the others in the series and works emotionally.

Sales Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published March 6th 2015 by Kenmore Books
ASINB00TCZK428
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #7
Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery (2016)

Series:

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

A MelanieM Review: From the Ashes (Boystown #6) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

It’s winter 1984. Private Investigator Nick Nowak has allowed his life to fall to pieces: He’s stopped taking cases, given up his apartment and taken a job as a bartender at a sleazy joint tucked under the El. All he wants to do is stay hidden and lick his wounds after the death of his lover, Detective Bert Harker.

But when the least likely person in the world shows up at the bar and asks him to take a new case, he finds himself investigating the very unsuspicious death of a priest. Nick is convinced he’s wasting his time until the clues begin to add up to something entirely unsuspected.

How does one come back from a self imposed mental and emotional death?  That’s the state that Nick Novak has put himself into after the devastating events of Murder Book (Boystown #5).  Shocked even by his own actions, Nick has given up his detection work, his apartment, and withdrawn from the few friends he had into a drunken isolation.

It takes the one person he leasts expects bringing him a case to finally draw him back into reevaluating his current affairs and where he thinks he can go from here.

Somebody needs to invent new adjectives for Marshall Thornton’s body of work. The ones we have just get overused because of novels like From the Ashes.  Words like “beautifully written, simply brilliant, and thought-provoking” are just not enough.

No, I’m not gushing.

Readers have been wondering what comes next for Nick.  How does he pick himself up?  Now we have our answer.  And it’s perfect.  Because it’s slow, punishing, and a surprise every step of the way.

Nothing is ever easy for this man. Life seems to just want to deliver the worst sort of  smackdown to him in every aspect of his life.  But eventually, up he gets.  Whether its his curiosity, or some ounce of self preservation, or determination not to let the “others” win…Nick somehow gets up and goes forward.

Thornton has always made us fall into step with this man.  Its not always been easy but we can’t help  ourselves.  Watching as Nick thinks or investigates his way through each murky, often seedy case is addictive.  So is watching the man work through his own issues past and  present (and there are many).  There are as many complications in Nick’s personal life as there are in his cases and often they overlap in surprising twisty ways.

That happens here again right from that start in the person who brings Nick the case that eventually jump starts his life again.  Of course, its going to get messy, dark, snarly, and bodies will appear.   But its also fundamentally about Nick’s loss and grieving.  It’s heartbreaking in so many ways.  Prepare yourself for that too.

Thornton uses Chicago’s many Catholic churches and parishes in this murder mystery and the fact that it’s parishioners often stayed with the  same parish and priest for years for Nick’s investigation.  It was fascinating and effective.  And I love the way the  entire story played out.

Thornton is a master at taking murder and suspense and weaving such heartfelt emotions throughout that at times you feel its so real, that Nick and the others are so much  flesh and blood, that it hurts in places to read on  (Murder Book is a prime example of that). That happens here too of course.

That we as readers have taken Nick into our hearts is due solely to Marshall Thornton, an author I love and highly recommend.  This book and series is but one place to start your introduction to him.

Yes, I highly recommend From the Ashes but its not a standalone.  It must be read in the order the books were written.  So start with the first collection and work your way here.  There’s also a terrific audiobook series, so start there if that’s more to your liking.

Cover art again is more about the emotions reflected inside and about branding the series.  I like the covers for the Pinx Video better.

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published February 20th 2015 (first published December 1st 2013)
ASINB00R0HRH7A
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #6
Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award Nominee (2013)

Series:

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

A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown 5) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 plus  stars out of 5

 

In the second of the Boystown mysteries to be a finalist for the Lambda Award, it’s fall 1982 and Chicago is gripped by panic after five people die from poisoned Tylenol capsules. Amid the chaos, the Bughouse Slasher takes his eighth victim, this time striking close to private investigator Nick Nowak.

With the Chicago Police Department stretched to its limit, Nick takes matters into his own hands. But what will he do with the Bughouse Slasher once he finds him.

Just when you think you know how Marshall Thornton will break your heart, his characters and story twists and shatters it in ways you never expected.

That’s what happened in Murder Book, the fifth novel in Marshall Thornton’s Boystown series. In this story, the author lifts a horrific series of murders direct from the  80’s headlines, that of the Tylenol poisonings of 1982 in Chicago.  It changed the pharmaceutical industry and our nation but here Thornton uses it as a narrative framework wherein he place’s another murder investigation ongoing at the same time.  Each investigation has the same parameters.    There have been multiple murders. The race is on to catch the killer before they strike again. But there it stops.

The Tylenol poisoner is high profile.  The search has the backing of many agencies.  It’s victims range from a child to adults and its potential victims could be anyone.  The fear is overwhelming the population and the push to find the culprit enormous.  No expense is being spared.

Then there is the other one.  The smaller investigation.  One that has been all but  forgotten.  That of the Bughouse Slasher who’s targets are young gay men, often found on the streets.  Not victims that the Chicago PD or anyone is pushing to solve their murders especially.  Excerpt for the now ill, ex Det Harker and his lover Nick Novak who have become involved through previous events and Harker’s former  Slasher cases.

Starting from the very first page, everything has come home to Nick Novak.  Its like walking into a wound that’s still tearing open.  And that walking trauma is NIck as we start to live his life.  This story is shocking, heartbreaking, gritty and real.  It will bring together many of the people we have come to know in a relentless search for a killer.

There will be no spoilers here.  Just simply my endless admiration for the author who created such a character, and has stayed true to him, messy life, unbelievable pain, and struggles to continue.  It is unbelievably compelling reading.  Brilliant even to the point that even once through is not enough.

When someone asks you, what are the characters that have made an impact on you, Nick Novak, is on that list.  This story is among the reasons  why as is the series.

Start at the first collection and see why for yourself today.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art works to brand the series and sets the tone for the story.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published February 6th 2015 (first published April 4th 2013)
ASINB00R0HDAZS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #5
Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2013)

Series:

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

A MelanieM Review: A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In the first full-length novel of the Boystown series, it’s late summer 1982 and private detective Nick Nowak is asked to find a retired gentleman’s long lost lover. Instead, he finds himself embroiled in a decades old murder connected to the man who wants to be Chicago’s next mayor.

Meanwhile, an ambitious young reporter develops a friendship with Nick’s lover Bert, making Nick wonder exactly where their relationship may be heading.

 

Nick Novak has never quite dealt with the traumatic assault that outed him to the  Chicago PD, cost him not only his job on the force but his lover who was violently beaten in the gay bashing. A tragedy where suspects were never arrested or looked for because the victims were homosexuals.  His lover blamed him for his closeted state and being part of the PD.  His guilt, his inability to protect the one he loved? And being the one not to face years of reconstructive surgery?  All took  its toll emotionally, professionally, and mentally.

Its why NIck is a PI, estranged from most of his family, and still not able to put his past completely to rest.

Now it comes home again when an elderly man asks Nick to find a lover he made a connection with long ago.  Turns out he also has a connection with Nick.  He was the one to call Chicago PD when he witnessed Nick and his lover being attacked, and perhaps kept them from being killed.  Nick’s past and this man’s are intertwined in ways Nick is just beginning to understand.

A Time For Secrets is a dark, gritty tale.  We’ve been moving deeper into this territory with each story as the 80’s progress.  Its 1982 now.  We’ve gone from a mention of a gay flu to a mysterious virus to GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) which Harker, Nick’s Chicago PD lover, was diagnosed with.  Now they are starting to call it  AIDS while searching for answers and, of course, preventative measures.  Yes, people are starting to think they should use condoms.

Nick is still very much Nick, who is trying to handle a lover who is probably dying (although no one is saying anything), his lover’s mother (who hates Nick and blames him for Harker’s illness), and his feelings towards both Harker and the idea of commitment. While it should be work that directs his attention away from the personal issues, this case continues to direct it back, as it pulls in his  family members with their ties to the police and his past.

Thornton’s writing is fast paced and smooth for all the intricacies of plot and heavy emotional heft of this story.  Parts of it will just plan old out and out hurt to read.  That’s because these characters and their plight have become or do feel so real over the course of this story.  It may be the 80’s, but bigotry and hate know no decade.  Nor does AIDS and impending loss.

This story and series makes it all believable, vivid, and immediate again.

As it does to corruption and politics.  Also so timely.

A Time For Secrets (Boystown #4) by Marshall Thornton is another brilliant story in the Boystown series.  There are ten books in all.  They are moving, dark, sometimes hard to read, and bring forth a character and perspective that’s not to be missed.  I highly recommend both this book and the entire series.

Cover art brands the series although would not be my pick for a cover.

Sales Link:  Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published January 23rd 2015 (first published March 30th 2012)
ASINB00R1OTW98
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #4

Series:

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 (PREOR

A MelanieM Review: Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

In the two novellas that make up the third book in the popular Boystown Mysteries private Investigator Nick Nowak works two challenging cases and grapples with an even more challenging personal life.

In Little Boy Boom, Nick’s car explodes when a thief attempts to steal it. Realizing the bomb was meant for him, Nick sets out to discover who wants him dead only to find that the list of possible suspects is longer than he’d like. When he begins to run out of suspects he wonders if the bomb was truly meant for him.

Little Boy Tenor finds Nick investigating the murderer of a church choir’s star tenor, while at the same time his friend Ross asks him to discover the truth behind his lover, Earl Silver’s mysterious death. As he juggles the two cases, he becomes increasingly disturbed by what he learns.

Two Nick Nowak Novellas (Boystown #3) by Marshall Thornton see’s Chi town’s dour, promiscuous private investigator torn between two men and deep into two cases that will impact not only himself on a deeply personal level but those close to him.

The cases have flashes of violence (murder is like that), the people seeking Nick’s help often see the P.I. hunting for clues in the seediest areas of Chicago all the way through Catholic parishes attended by his  estranged family to the haunts of Chicago’s upper society.  There is no where that Nick won’t go in pursuit of answers and a swift sexual hookup. Yes, sex and Nick are inseparable.  He never met a blowjob he didn’t like…mostly.  Even now when maybe, in the back of his mind, the thoughts are poking at him that perhaps he should  change his promiscuous ways. Not that he listens very long.  These are the years when they don’t even use condoms. No precautions are taken.  It’s just one slutfest after another, threeways and drugs included. Until something starts to happen.

Set in the early 80’s, there have been whispers of men falling ill and dying of the “gay flu”.  Then in bits and pieces Nick and various characters start to read about a bigger population, and then more theories as Ross’ lover Earl dies of a mysterious death.  And far worse, Nick’s lover Bert Harker falls ill. As Bert’s physical state deteriorates, both men look for answers and Nick faces his true feelings about Bert and Daniel.  It’s bleak, revealing, and heartrending because we have the  perspective and knowledge of the future.  We know where this particular path will lead them and so many others.  We saw the tiny pieces start to appear in the first two collections.  Small chilling appearances in the narrative that made the reader stop and take a deep breath.  And then go “oh no, please no”.  Because what’s the present for these characters is recent history for us. Inarguable, indisputable, horrific, painful history.  We know what they will live through, and because Marshall Thornton’s brilliant stories has made us care for them, we can’t look away.  We shouldn’t look away.

Their lives are messy, alive, human and so worth reading about.  And they are intertwined with Nick’s cases which will continue to have reverberations down  through the books to come.  It’s all connected, as are all the people you will continue to meet.

Marshall Thornton is weaving a Boystown tapestry of sex, murder, love, AIDS, and life in the 80’s. It’s gritty, dark complicated and ultimately moving.  It’s also not to be missed.

Cover art works for branding the series.  i wish it was more in tone like his Pinx Video series.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published June 1st 2011)
ASIN B00QZKR5YS
Edition Language English
Series Boystown #3

Series:

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 (PREOR

A MelanieM Review: Three More Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #2) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4. 5 stars out of 5

 

The Boystown Mystery series continues as Chicago private investigator Nick Nowak finds himself involved in three new cases. He’s asked to help a young man who murdered his stepfather but refuses to assist in his own defense, hired to find the murderer of a dead porno star, and, in a case that traps him between the two men he loves, must search for a serial killer’s only living victim. Set in the second half of 1981, Nick juggles his deepening relationship with Detective Bert Harker with the return of his ex, Daniel Laverty. Which man will he choose? Or will he be able to choose?

In this second collection of stories, the character of Nick Novak continues to develop, revealing more of himself and the tangled web of emotions and relationships he’s caught up in.  Nick is unable to let go of his past and his first love, Daniel Laverty.  The trauma under which they parted has a great deal to do with that and the fact that Nick has never effectively dealt with it.

Now there’s a man who is demanding his time and attention, Detective Bert Harker, a  police officer he met through a case.  Much like Nick, when he was on the force, Harker is determined to stay in the closet until retirement not only because he saw what happened to Nick but also due to the rampant homophobia daily on display in the Chicago PD. Thornton delivers a wrenching portrait of a man who no longer trusts his own feelings, who isn’t able to recognize his own state of emotions with regard to love, and uses sex to deflect finding any answers within himself.  Anyone who is available for quick sex in any form is used for physical and often emotional release, whether  Nick admits it or not.

That includes friends with their own “boyfriends” and issues, clients, former clients, and odd hookup with a source of information.  Nick sets a new low for lack of professionalism and he knows how dangerously he’s skirting the boundaries.  Nick is still very much a main in pain and very slowly  trying to recover from the loss of his job, family, and lover.

It’s still sex, drugs, murder, and the 80’s surrounding Nick Novak and his cases so in the background you get a roll call of the news of that era, playlists that will still sound familiar, and  many gadgets/electronic devices that thankfully are now consigned to museum status (think typewriters to mimeographs).  Thornton’s stories are both familiar and yet just placed far enough in the past to give us a perspective that will have a chilling impact as certain events and facts start to intrude into these stories and these characters lives.

The murder cases are fascinating. And they will continue to impact Nick in the books future down the road. How they are solved, the step by step process, the grunt work, how Nick work’s it out…the reader is there with him making all the connections.  All the stories are told in first person narrative.  It’s that gritty, wry, dark voice of Nick that drives these stories.  Nick perseveres when no one else will, despite an inner voice telling him not too. He knows when his actions are indulgent or destructive and yet he does them anyway.  And when he finally gives way and acknowledges some small insight into his inner turmoil?  It becomes shockingly brilliant portrait of a man at a crossroads in his life.

Nick and all those you will meet here will leave a lasting impression on you.  That I promise.  The writing is superb, the characterizations phenomenal, and the stories will leave a lasting impact, all the more so when taken as a whole.

This is the last book that includes a collection.  From here each novel goes to complete stories with one case and Nick dealing with his increasingly complicated personal life.

A note about the sex, promiscuity and “cheating”.  This is the 80’s and the gay scene in Chicago.  This is not romance.  This is a time of sex, tons of hookups, where being monogamist was more perhaps “hetexronormive” and less gay. It was a time of bathhouses, swinging, cocaine, and so much more.  It was also when the first small rumors starts of a illness that seemed to hit only gay men, called at first the “gay flu”.

So if you as a reader are looking for a romance or won’t read books with cheating, here’s a couple of things to consider.  One, this isn’t a romance and,. secondly, its hard judging the sexual morality of era like the 80’s from today’s perspective. They were coming off of times where they had been hiding who they were, many fearing for decades for their lives if it was known they were homosexuals.  The 80’s were a veritable floodgates of freedom compared to the past.  And the sex was a reflection of that. So, anyway, still perhaps this might not be the book or series for you but I hope you will give it a try.  Otherwise you’ll be missing out on a incredible series.

I highly recommend this collection. Indeed I say that about the entire Boystown series and its author Marshall Thornton.   More to come.  Stay tuned.

Cover art again is more about the tone and less about the era and theme.  Works for branding but I’m not really a fan.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published July 28th 2010)
ASINB00R09EV6I
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #2

Series:

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 (PREOR

A MelanieM Review: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries (Boystown #1) by Marshall Thornton

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Finalist for the Lambda Award in Gay Mystery, Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries takes place in Chicago during the early 1980s. Haunted by his abrupt departure from the Chicago Police Department and the end of his relationship with librarian Daniel Laverty, Nick Nowak is a beat cop-turned-dogged private investigator. In this first book of the series, Nick works through three cases: a seemingly simple missing persons search, an arson investigation, and a suicide that turns out to be anything but. While working the cases, Nick moves through a series of casual relationships until he meets homicide detective Bert Harker and begins a tentative relationship.

Marshall Thornton’s other stories made me a die hard fan but these? Made me  want to go out and plant some sort of narrative equivalent of the gold star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  How Nick Novak would have hated that.  Probably Marshall Thornton too.

Also I’ve already read far ahead in this magnificent series.  Had I not done that, this story would have rated higher but I have the truly stunning, haunting stories ahead as comparison.  Fair or not, I know that is but a solid, excellent building block for the gritty unforgettable heartbreak to come.

Its is funny thing about historical fiction.  Writing stories too far ahead and authors run the risk of readers who either have little interest or knowledge of those eras in which they are writing.  That can be from ancient Greece all the way through Edwardian times. Hell, I’ll throw the Civil War in there, embarrassingly enough.  Then you have what many call the recent historical fiction, stories written maybe a mere decades away from our current times.   That’s a completely different animal as they say because so many readers still remember those times.   That’s where this series fits in.

Boystowns and this first book which contains three Nick Novak tales takes place in the 1980’s.  For gay men in Chicago (or anywhere), it’s a time of change.  Almost entirely forgotten are those hated days of being called perverts and jailed automatically. Now gay flags are flying. Gay sex means quick anonymous hookups, rampant promiscuity, a sense of freedom after being in the closet and being jailed for your sexuality.  OK, yes, you could still lose your job in places, yes you still need to be circumspect in  some areas of your life but men are out and gay.  There are Pride Parades and PFlag. But still there’s gay bashing. And also the first whispers of a mysterious gay flu spreading through parts of the population of gay men in the United States.

Thornton brings the 80’s back with electric typewriters,  disco music, cars and all the other items of the day that scream that era but nicely folded into the narrative in such a way that it’s a subtle reminder rather than a blaring signpost.  Always at the center is Nick Novak, the ultimate reminder himself.  It’s in his behavior, one hookup after the other, doesn’t matter whether hes’ on the job or not. It’s in his mannerisms and in the way he talks and the way he lives. It also doesn’t matter whether he’s in a relationship or not.  Monogamy is not Nick’s thing here.  Nor was it in the 80’s.  Remember that was more of a heteronormative “thing”.  Plus casual sex, swinging sex?  Sex in the parks, bathhouses, no condoms?  That was the norm of the day and Nick is the king follower.

There will be many readers out there who dismiss books because of what they consider “cheating” elements.  But you have to understand the times.  This is not a romance book, that was not the 80’s.  Don’t go into these complicated, messy emotional stories with those expectations.  But these are stories filled with love of many types.

Nick and his first love were victims of a horrendous gay bashing.  It cost Nick his job as a police office and his lover, who underwent many facial reconstruction surgeries. He left Nick when he felt that Nick didn’t stick up for him. Nick is still working his way through the emotional impact of that event when we meet him here.

The stories are gritty and real.  The people you meet are sometimes ugly, mean, or tired and sad.  Even the sex feels dirty at times.  But it comes across as authentic and haunting, especially as you know the context.  We know the history.  And with each story Nick grapples more with his own recovery and past history, trying to move forward.

I can’t being to tell you how remarkable this series it.  As I said these three stories represent only the beginning building blocks for the truly stunning, heart grabbers to come.

There isn’t a missed step narratively speaking.  It’s perfection.  Marshall Thornton is building a masterpiece.  All ten books.

Start on your journey with him and Nick Novak here.

 

Cover art is simple, evocative of mood of the stories.

Sales Link:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published January 9th 2015 (first published November 1st 2009)
ASINB00QXSTXE2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #1 settingChicago, Illinois (United States)
Illinois (United States)

Series:

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)