The story was referred by a mutual friend and as I am big into speculative fiction with queer characters as part of the mix I was: "Count me in!"
To stThe story was referred by a mutual friend and as I am big into speculative fiction with queer characters as part of the mix I was: "Count me in!"
To start off with I was rather pleasantly surprised in the setting being in the South Bay (San Jose) than the oft perceived sexier city to the north (San Francisco). This alone added an element of the unknown - not because the city isn't worthy of a delicious tale of its own, but because these cities often remain the bridesmaids in genre storytelling when their sexier sister is all dolled up to tell the tale. So, kudos to Mr. Neu for taking the road less taken. And what a road it turns out to be. Without being too spoilery, we're dealing with immortals and their complex world that exists along side our own. I loved the slight twists and flavors Mr. Neu wove into his particular tapestry of a tale. From the start it is filled with intrigue for the main character who, like the majority of us, is just one of the normal ones. A Joe Blow from AnyTown, USA. Only nothing could be further from the truth as the story evolves and consumes his world. It is this very up-ending of what he has come to expect in life as his lot that is the best springboard to propel him (and my proxy, us) into his new life in choosing to become an immortal himself (you surely thing the title of the work lent itself to this, didn't you?).
Along the way we meet enticing and riveting characters that will both push and pull against our (anti?) hero. To be sure it is a harsh world that he has decided to embrace. And somehow his family history, one he accepted as being mysterious if not worthy of making a big deal of it all. Instead he decides that his immortal status would give him the time and resources to put together the mysteries that have surrounded his mundane life only to find he may have bargained for far more than he realized.
The book moves along at a very adept pace. Mr. Neu never takes the over-wrought descriptions that so often weigh down books of this sort with backstory and atmosphere to the point where you, as the reader, feel strangled by it. Under his deft hand, he gives us just enough to whet our appetite for more and then revel in the onion skinning like glee he seems to have when he does gift us with what's to come. It's a literary roller coaster ride I thoroughly enjoyed and can't wait to see the continuation in this series. So, now the big question, why the four stars instead of five? I would've have granted the final star were it not that the great menace in book one seemed to resolve itself rather swiftly. It definitely left me wanting a bit more adversarial push and pull. The antagonist was a rich one that I think could've been plundered to greater effect. The final battle, while well executed still seemed to be missing something epic in how it all went down. A bit too pat for my tastes. Now, having said that, the pseudo-epilogue did leave enough of the onion-skinning of what's to come that whets my lips in anticipation that this little slice of adventure is going gift us with another ripping chapter in these interesting characters immortal lives. I know "I'm In..."...more
Icarus Ascending is a brisk but deeply fulfilling dive into crime noir with a succulent thread of man candy woven throughout the work. To say Icarus iIcarus Ascending is a brisk but deeply fulfilling dive into crime noir with a succulent thread of man candy woven throughout the work. To say Icarus is cinematic in Crime Noir scope and appeal would be akin to saying Hitchcock knew something about thrillers and film.
Yet, like the master of suspense that Hitch was, James weaves a tale that is concise with prose to the point where, as a reader, you are compiling your own hit list of whodunnit as you turn the page. The thing is, with each plot twist and curve James deftly slings your way, your list quickly devolves into being written on quicksand. This is a very good thing. Like Mr. Hitchcock did with "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (first attempted in 1939 and then again in 1956, where Hitch described himself as saying the ’39 version was "crafted by a talented amateur and the latter by a seasoned professional") Mr. James retake on it’s previous incarnation (Errors and Omissions) in its newer retelling follows Hitch’s success in that E&O was a well crafted and engaging novel, the reworking of it is that much cleaner - a deft eye and a steady hand of, dare I say it, literary genius at work in this genre.
Indeed, it is this clean and "take no prisoners" prose that gives Icarus its bite. Like the crazed sociopathic killer at the heart of this tale, James creates an ensemble of characters that take a bite of your imagination and run wild into the night with it. James draws scenes and colors them with all the mastery of JMW Turner masterpiece - the settings are just opaque enough so that every subtle light and dark he paints with leaves you wondering if you saw everything he put there. This is a very good thing in a crime mystery. He keeps you guessing right up to the ending.
I won’t go into a blow-by-blow of the work as that is a huge disservice to the author and the work itself. I don’t do book reports and loathe those who put plot points into reviews. This is ESPECIALLY true of mystery works. I want you to discover this world and these men (and women) who inhabit them. You’d be all the richer for it. Like Icarus, I found myself ascending toward the climatic light, hoping that the characters I’d grown to love in the works would make it through and not parish from the that harsh light of revelation in the end. A decidedly quality work. Bravo Mr. James. The first of a series and I will rush to purchase the next volume in this illustrious and gripping work.
Too bad ol’ Hitch isn’t around to option it. It would make for one helluva thriller. Kudos....more
Lexington Black is Smythe's second foray into M/M erotica. You'd hardly know that from the concise and steady pace of Lex and Robin's erotic and scintLexington Black is Smythe's second foray into M/M erotica. You'd hardly know that from the concise and steady pace of Lex and Robin's erotic and scintillating tale. I won't go into a book report review because I don't do those. What I will say is that while Dirty Little Secret (the author's previous M/M erotic novella) seemed rather sparse on the character offerings (I likened it to a dinghy rather than the yacht in breadth of story and character development), Smythe pulls out all the stops and then some. There is a deft hand with family angst (so much so I had no problem aligning them with members of my own family or friends, in many cases), the evolving of Robin from a divorcee to the sudden realization the reason he's been so unhappy is that he had the wrong gender all along in his search for love and fulfillment. Enter Lex(ington) Black. Lex is suave and debonaire to the nth degree. He rattles poor Robin in ways that he can't quite handle. Smythe does a brilliant job of giving us Lex's background without falling into a rabbit's hole of backstory. Just enough to whet our appetite for how these two are going to collide in a clash of bodies, tongues and emotions. Smythe doesn't fall short of the mark on any page. This is a deft and brilliantly paced work that is a fun and satisfying read - whether poolside or on the beach. This one will definitely be competing with the sunshine in getting you all hot and bothered (even in cooler climates). BUY IT!...more