Author: Ethan Stone
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 216 Pages
At a Glance: If you enjoy a good mystery and don’t mind a little insta-love, this series may just be for you.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: A serial killer known as the Confessor is kidnapping and torturing gay men, and Reno Police Department Evidence Technician Leif Carson is determined to catch him.
His personal life isn’t any less stressful. Despite being a virgin and having zero experience with men, he can’t stop thinking about his best friend’s ex, Rafe Castillo. Rafe is suffering from PTSD, but that doesn’t stop Leif from wanting to be with him.
Complete opposites, they’re an amazing fit once they do get together—until Rafe’s PTSD gets in the way and he walks away from the relationship before it has a chance to truly blossom. Even though he has intense feelings for the man, Leif has no choice but to let him go.
When the Confessor kidnaps Rafe, Leif does everything possible to locate him before he’s murdered. Rafe’s near-death experience changes him profoundly, but the danger isn’t over yet. Leif and Rafe will have to face pure evil together if they’re going to last
Review: This is what appears to be the first in a new series, Reno PD Case Files, so I went into this thinking I was coming in at the beginning. Quickly, I found certain references and character interactions seemed to have backstories that intrigued me, but made me feel a little out of the loop on the dynamics between the characters. On a whim I went back and looked and saw that most of the secondary characters in this book are from the Flesh series, which I haven’t read. Did I need to read the Flesh series to enjoy this book? Not really. But I think I would have been able to enjoy the book a little more if I understood some of the dialogue and backstory that was referred to a little more. More than likely I will end up going back and reading the Flesh series because I truly did enjoy the secondary characters and found myself wanting the entire picture.
I don’t know much about the inner workings of Police Departments, but my guess is in some of the situations Leif finds himself in the reader has to suspend a little disbelief. If you are the type of reader who picks apart the police procedure aspect of a mystery novel, you may find yourself a little frustrated. For me? It wasn’t anything that was so far out of the realm I couldn’t enjoy the story and go with the flow, taking the story for what it was. The mystery aspect was interesting and held my attention. A serial killer labeled “The Confessor” is out targeting gay men to torture and kill in very gruesome ways. The evidence is sparse and the killer is escalating. Cristian Flesh is the lead detective on the case, and Leif finds his expertise in demand and embroiled in the investigation.
Leif is a likable little genius who genuinely is a nice guy. He is very analytical and does well being an evidence technician. Leif has had a thing for Rafe Castillo since he first met him months prior to when this book starts. When they meet again, Rafe isn’t in the best condition—sloppy drunk (side note: I was very happy to see Leif was honest in his description of a drunk Rafe). Even with Rafe’s less than stellar behavior, Leif is extremely attracted to the man and can’t help but fantasize about him. Leif sincerely wants to help Rafe heal, and makes choices with the best intentions. Rafe is a mess, a complete disaster. He suffers from PTSD but refuses to admit it, thinking by admitting he suffers from it would mean he is crazy. He is on a downward spiral and is keeping those who care for his wellbeing in the dark.
Through a series of events, the two end up together and it is sort of insta-love. The sex was pretty hot, and Rafe surprised me with how caring he was with Leif, as though he knew Leif was someone to be treasured. It is clear there are major sparks for the two of them. Unfortunately, just as quickly as they get together, it comes crashing down and Leif is left brokenhearted. While Leif tries to find a way to save what could have been with Rafe, Rafe disappears and Leif connects his disappearance to the serial killer case he has been working on with Cristian.
The mystery was well paced and I found myself trying to puzzle out the evidence with Leif. I also really enjoyed Leif’s character. There wasn’t a ton of character growth on his part, but the story takes place over a short period of time, so I didn’t expect a huge change. Leif was fairly mature and overall had a steady head on his shoulders. He may be a little naïve and self-conscious, but that is not uncommon for a young adult with his background. Rafe had some growth and that was the most important part; he was suffering and making poor decisions while trying to overcome his PTSD in some of the worst possible ways, mainly by refusing to admit he suffered from it at all. It was nice to see the changes in his personality and maturity.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more in the series. If you enjoy a good mystery and don’t mind a little insta-love, this series may just be for you.
You can buy Confessions here: