Cole Riann's Reviews > To Catch A Fox

To Catch A Fox by Geoffrey Knight
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Sep 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: armchair-reviews, m-m, m-m-contemporary, m-m-cops-agents-pis, m-m-crime-mob, m-m-mystery, m-m-series
Read on September 30, 2012

Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

I really love each of these authors separately, so I've been waiting forever to see what their combined writing is like. We finally get that with this first book of a new mystery series, and more than any other author pair, each author has his distinct stamp on the book. It may be because I'm so familiar with their individual writing, but it is clear in the characters that remind me so much of Ethan's past romantic comedies, and in the campy tone and incredibly twisted plot reminiscent of the Fathom boys' own stories, always going just a couple steps further than you expect, just shy of the hilariously absurd. The combination of those forces was bound to be a sight to behold; before I even knew what the book was about, I could picture the hilarity the two had writing together. The outcome is almost exactly what I expected and described above, the most dominant traits of each carrying forward and marrying into a story that is at same time serious and off the wall.

Jon Fox is a playboy private investigator whose contacts around the quarter are synonymous with fuck buddies -- easy payment for their services rendered on the lookout -- because everyone wants a piece of Fox and they always beg for more. His reputation makes him well known, but not just for his prowess in bed (or you know… anywhere). An incredibly difficult childhood of lies, neglect and death left an enduring mark on the young Fox, who tore through New Orleans for years leaving destruction in his angry, alcoholic wake. His money and connections through the Fox name keep him out of serious trouble, but even now as he has settled into the straight and narrow he has a buried, finely honed edge of rage just waiting for relapse.

Fox is stuck in the middle of a rather unorthodox case, when a sweet older woman visits him with a very odd request. That case brings him to shadow a man seen being friendly with the woman at a local diner. Fox admits that he loves surveilling the beautiful Tucker a little more than he should, unsure if the man has any idea what he's involved in. Luckily the borderline stalking works to his favor when Tucker ends up needing his help after the man witnessed something he shouldn't while walking through the city at night. The two will have to find a way to work together to piece together the mystery of the men after Tucker, Fox's strange client, and some old and very buried family secrets.

This story is really quite a vast mystery and only the very first part of a much longer story. Though I assume the mysteries will change from book to book, the relationship arc covers them all. In that sense, this book is the setup for the rest of the story yet to come, though it is long and detailed enough, with enough focus on the relationship to make this a satisfying beginning to the relationship between Fox and Tucker. There is often a very fine line drawn between camp and serious character and plot development. it worked well for me. This is a story that benefits from campy humor and tone but isn't reliant on it, and the mystery behind it was pretty solid.

At times that mystery became a bit much for me. The second half is really when it picked up. I had a difficult time with the first half. Everything was written well in the beginning, especially the character and relationship development, but it felt a little slow to get off the ground and I wasn't quite sure how focused the story was. In retrospect (knowing how the mystery is resolved), I can see where most of the ground work in the beginning of the story had a place, but for most of the book I had a hard time reconciling the focus of the mystery in the beginning with the outcome. There are three major parts of the overall investigations that don't really seem to fit together into a whole, and there were some unanswered questions for me in the end about how one of them ultimately fit in (the mob). Perhaps I'm missing the connection, but a lot of that part of the investigation seemed arbitrary to me.

The characters are smartly written -- Tucker, a screenwriter, sees the world through a lens and I loved his overt movie references that always seemed to come out at the worst times. Fox has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on that works really well when we finally find out more about him and the family secrets start to unravel. The mystery is pretty convoluted, with a large cast, a long history and a lot of different factions to consider. Like I said before, some of this didn't quite piece together for me, but this is also the first book of a series and it seems to me that there will be a continuation of much of this story, though perhaps not the particulars. The ending sets the direction of the next story, but doesn't end on a cliffhanger either. All in all, I think this duo has nowhere to go but up and I'll be excited to read the sequel. Hopefully it isn't too far away!
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