Review: James Buchanan – The Family Eternal (Deputy Joe #5)

Author: James Buchanan
Reviewer: Natalie
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: MM

Rating: ★★★★★ 


Summary: When the body of a young woman is found in a burning rental cabin, Deputy Joe Peterson and newly minted Fire Inspector Kabe Varghese must learn to work together to find out who she is and why she died.

Folks will tell you that family is second only to God in Utah. But what brings strength to some can sow sorrow with others.

On a bleak winter morning, a young woman’s corpse smolders in the remains of a burned rental cabin. Clues to her identity are rarer than frozen choke-cherries in the Utah backcountry. Deputy Joe Peterson, assisted by Kabe Varghese in his first case as a fire inspector trainee, doggedly hunts for who she is and why she died. As they sink deeper into the investigation, Joe struggles with how his life is now personally and professionally intertwined with Kabe’s.

Outed, excommunicated and disciplined because of the man he found love with; the last year of Joe’s life has careened like an avalanche toward an abyss. Is doom inevitable? Or is the best chance to live surrendering to the fall?

Review: I still want more Joe and Kabe! I was so excited when I saw a new Deputy Joe novel, only now it’s Detective Joe. Kabe is Inspector Varghese with the fire department, and they’ve both been drawn into a case of murder and arson. The details of the case take us on a deeper dive into Mormonism and some of the obscure polygamist sects that still exist in places. Joe is also caught, once again, between the faith and beliefs he still holds onto, and his abiding love for Kabe.

James Buchanan does a marvelous job of intertwining the case investigation with information related to being Mormon, without being either preachy, or dismissive. Kabe is rather dismissive but has respect for the fact that Joe still has faith in much of it. Joe is still a bit lost in some ways without the underpinnings of the church and temple but a surprising event helps him reconcile more of his beliefs. If you’ve read the series, you already know what complex characters Joe and Kabe are. At least there was one good kinky scene but not much sex in the story.

I really hope we haven’t seen the last of Joe and Kabe. This particular story is set in 2013, for specific reasons. I’d really like to see them again in the present day, with perhaps a new character or two added to their story (hint, hint James!). Highly recommended but read the whole series to understand Joe and Kabe. It’s well worth it!

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