She Said – He Said – She Said
She Said –
Reviewed by Melissa Brus
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Full Disclosure: I am already a fan of both of these authors before I ever received this book for review. I was so excited and thought I was ready for what these two writers could do on a page.
Nope. I wasn’t ready. Collaborations are a tricky business. And these two made it magic. They elevated each other in so many ways. The prose is beautiful. There is a sexy film noir feel to the whole narrative. The level of description and detail draws the reader into the tale seemingly effortlessly without ever feeling overwhelming or slowing the pace of the story. These two manage all of this and still manage to produce a palpable tension between the main characters,
Rufus and Sam, as well as an intriguing mystery that Sam and Rufus find themselves embroiled in. My only warning is that this book ends in true Gregory Ashe and C.S. Poe fashion. For new fans, this means you will put the book down and yell at them. Loudly. Then you will find yourself on all of their social media platforms, joining the legions that will understand, and stalking them for the next book.
I thought I was ready for this one. I got sucked in after the first chapter and refused to put it down until I did my yelling at the end. If you love a good book, period, go get this one for yourself. I have to go stalk these two on the internet now.
Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
Here’s to collaborations! I am a huge admirer of Gregory Ashe’s writing, but I confess that the sheer physical and emotional brutality in which he takes such delight in the Hazard & Somerset books makes them very difficult for me. The Borealis Investigations series is easier on my soul. In this, the tantalizing first offering in the O’Callaghan & Auden series, it’s clear that C.S. Poe’s gentler, more romantic touch has leavened the darkness. Coupled with Ashe’s sharp, engaging prose and well-built plot, this pretty much had me craving the second book by the end – in spite of what is intentionally a less-than-satisfying denouement for book one.
The premise for this murder mystery is clever and off-kilter: an urban cipher, a thirty-three-year-old lost boy, finds the detective for whom he is a paid informant brutally murdered. Simultaneously, a self-styled traveler (a drifter in film noir parlance), the dead detective’s longtime war buddy and onetime lover, sets out on a journey to New York to find out why the death has been publicly classed a suicide. These two men, Rufus O’Callaghan and Sam Auden, form a tenuous alliance based on their mutual attachment to the dead Jake Brower.
Together, their patchwork of on-the-ground experience and non-academic intelligence gives them the tools they need to dig into what becomes an exceedingly ugly story of corruption and greed. This isn’t a short book, but the action moves fast, and the story’s vision of New York City is as relentlessly unromantic as any I’ve read – and uncomfortably accurate.
Our first impression of the two main characters is rough and grimy. Rufus is a broken boy for whom Jake was the only source of light. Sam is a wounded soldier in whose life Jake represents rejection and lost love. Both men live on the edge of invisibility, with nobody to mourn their passing. But Rufus’s shock of red hair is a symbol of the unquenched fire in his spirit, a bright beacon of possibility…if only. Sam, for his part, is the model of a superhero – big and handsome and strong. Both of them are brimming with potential, and they each see that potential in the other, if not in themselves. This sets up a dynamic that promises massive frustration in the Ashe mode; but also tenderness and succor in the Poe mode. Oh, you know there’ll be pain; but you also trust that it won’t end in pain – ultimately.
Ashe likes his readers pissed off and frustrated; Poe likes them hopeful but angsty. I found both Rufus and Sam totally endearing, as their gritty exteriors were peeled away to make the beauty inside them visible. Oh, yeah, they’re badly damaged, but that’s nothing new for readers of both of these authors. Like Rufus and Sam have to learn to trust each other, the reader has to trust these authors. I do. You will, too.
Reviewed by Gloria Lakritz
Sr Reviewer & Review Chair for The Paranormal Romance Guild
I am very familiar with Carroll Poe and have been a fan for years, so it was a pleasant surprise for me to see she had decided to co- write a mystery series with a new to me author Gregory Ashe. Well I have to say; Loving this new team!!!
It is always fun for me as a New Yorker to read Ms. Poe’s work; as she uses the streets of my city. Rufus O’Callaghan skates through my city and I love seeing it through his eyes. Rufus is a C.I. (confidential informant) for the NYC Police Department. He is one of the many in this city, going through life alone living on ramen, existing. He has no family, no actual friends and his only ‘person’ is his handler NYC Police Officer Jake Brower.
We begin this story with murder. Jake has notified Rufus he needs a ‘meet’, when Rufus arrives he finds Jake dead, murdered, shot between the eyes. In shock, Rufus searches for a package or a gun … examining Jakes body, then realizing the murderer is still there. Fear forces him to run, and get away as the killer stands across the area, screaming at him as he aims his gun..
Little does Rufus know Sam Auden an ex army buddy and evidently ex lover of Jakes is on his way to NYC after hearing the police have deemed Jake’s death suicide. Sam knows this is impossible and wants answers. Rufus has tried to talk to the police and hits a wall. As the two men meet and slowly etch out a common bond deciding two is better than one; deciding to work together. They realize all is not as it seems at the precinct and find they both are now targets.
I loved both MC’s. Each has a story to tell, which gives us the wonderful yin and yang of these authors. Both young men are so wounded it is hard to read. Rufus is like the shadow of someone going through life that no one sees; even with his flaming red hair. But Sam sees him freckles and all. Sam the traveler is big, and strong and handsome, but there is so much more as Rufus sees him as a hero.
The story is about them finding each other, and hanging on to life as they are hunted with targets on their backs. GREAT FIRST BOOK