Author: K.C. Burn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Narrator: Darcy Stark
Riley Parker: temp, twink, geek… sleuth?
Maybe Riley isn’t living up to his full potential, but being a temp executive assistant suits him. He’s never bored at work, he’s got friends who let him geek out, and he’s got a carefully crafted twink exterior… which might be getting constrictive now that he’s on the other side of thirty. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s comfortable.
It all unravels when he takes a job working for a tea-obsessed cosmetics queen, the owner of Gautier Cosmetics. During the launch party for a new product, Riley finds his boss dead under suspicious circumstances, and the homicide detective is none other than Tadeo Martin, Riley’s high school obsession who never knew he was alive.
Tad drafts Riley to get the scoop on the inner workings of Gautier, and for Riley, it’s like a drug. His natural inquisitiveness is rewarded with more and more Tad. Unfortunately, his snooping puts him in the running for two other roles: suspect and victim. The killer doesn’t care which.
I’m not sure if it’s the narrator himself, or if the author’s writing is not as polished in this story as in others I’ve read from her in the past, but I found this murder mystery to be quite elementary and often boring. Clues were very simple, and unless the narrator was emphasizing them as he read, they were quite evident to listeners. The style of narration was somewhat bland and several words were strikingly mispronounced, taking me right out of the story. So obviously, the narration did not add to my enjoyment of this story at all. If anything, it detracted from it.
The romance was unrealistic for many reasons. It was insta-attraction, but right from the start, Tad, the cop, said it could only be a quick hookup due to the case. Umm, unless Riley was shockingly gorgeous, that’s hard to believe. A cop shouldn’t even glance at a witness, never mind agree to a quick hookup. The whole setup was inconceivable. And then Tad constantly dropped by with lunch or invited Riley to dinner or a drink—it just didn’t jive with what he said.
And then, the high school angle was so irritating to me, and it only got worse as it was repeated throughout the book. Riley was hiding the fact that he knew Tad in high school when Riley was a geeky gamer and Tad was, of course, a popular athlete. Riley crushed on Tad but Tad had never looked twice at the geek. That trope might have worked if they were both in theie early twenties in this story but they are in their early thirties so the whole ploy seemed childish and immature. Who really still lives in their high school days in their thirties? To the point where it was obsessive. Grow up already. Sigh. Sorry, I digress.
I generally love this author’s work and I strongly suspect that the narration is responsible, in part, for my dislike of this one. The main crux of the story is a murder that takes place where Riley is working as a temp executive assistant. His boss is killed just before launch of a new product line and just before her secret marriage is revealed. In addition, she was about to announce her new husband’s new VP position in the company—a VP position in which he’d share responsibility with the other VPs who happen to be her two adult children. So lots of suspects abound. And Riley, an innately snoopy fellow, is enlisted by Tad to keep his eyes and ears open. Naturally, he takes it too far and is nearly killed for his snooping efforts.
I wish I had read this or listened to it from a different, more dynamic narrator. My hope is that the story is better than my perception, and looking at reviews from others who read the e-book version, it appears that they believe it is really good. So, if you enjoy this author and you like a light mystery and romance, try the book. I can’t recommend the audio version at all.