Rafe Haze – The Next

the nextAuthor: Rafe Haze
Reviewer: Yvonne
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Genre: M/M Mystery
ISBN: 9781925031966

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Romantic Suspense novel, often called The Gay Rear Window. A romance springs to life as two strangers merge with a common goal: to catch a killer they suspect occupies one of the apartments across the courtyard. But their romance must hurdle the main protagonist’s suffocating, unresolved demons as well as encroaching, life threatening danger. But if they make it through, they can both bring life back to their lives. The Next romances Love, Alfred Hitchcock, and New York City in large, creamy dollops.

Length: 83,600 words

“Rear Window might have been the inspiration behind Haze’s work, but the content is certainly original. I was immediately seduced by the language and cadence of his words–the way he writes a scene using the negative space, slowly circling until he’s ready to make his point like a heart pinned to the floor with a butcher’s knife.” ~ LE Franks

Review: In this delightful mystery the suspense is all tied to our main character who’s an agoraphobic apartment dweller who spends his time spying on his neighbors and ends up witnessing something that he wasn’t supposed to see. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with some modern twists. While our hero is not physically handicapped, he’s incapacitated nonetheless from fear as he finds himself petrified to leave his living quarters. The other twist is that though the story starts off with a break up with a woman, the person who ignites a spark in him is the male police officer who knocks on his door as he’s investigating a case of a missing neighbor in the apartment building.

Our nameless narrator finds himself slowly being seduced by the mystery and by the charming Sergeant Marzoli, all while trying to fight off his demons which start to have a life of their own after he receives some bad news from his past. The book becomes an engrossing read as we hang on to learn the mysteries of the past and the more prominent current one.

Initially, the main character is a little off putting and the writing not always accessible. It’s a first person narrative that can feel a little claustrophobic as we only get the point of view of the unnamed voyeur in the story. There’s also a continuous switch from present to past that takes some getting used to. But after a while I found the rhythm of the story and really started enjoying the journey.

I liked the narrator’s often biting and politically incorrect humor, especially in connection with the ridiculous nicknames he assigns each apartment dweller & how he deals with his new and surprising attraction to the very male detective who’s dropped into his life. He & Marzoli have a nice chemistry that builds as the story goes along. He also finds himself slowly letting go of the paralysis that had taken over his life.

Attempting to solve the mystery brings he & Marzoli more & more together. The fact that the two of them spark against each other is an added bonus. .

The main protagonist hides behind a lot of defenses and is more cynical than nice most of the time. He watches his neighbors with a mixture of disdain, and pity at first although his thinking about them evolves as the story progresses. While his issues become obvious fairly quickly, we also eventually learn that Marzoli is not all what he seems as well.

This is the kind of story that holds your interest and leaves you wanting more. There’s an erotically charged noir like quality to the story that I don’t often find in most M/M novels. I like that it’s a little different while still staying true to the romance. I’m partial to mysteries and particularly enjoyed the little psychological drama that played out in this one. This is one suspenseful read that I’m happy to recommend

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