Tuesday, 23 April 2019

T.S. HUNTER - TAINTED LOVE (2019)



Synopsis/blurb.....

SOME RELATIONSHIPS ARE JUST MURDER 

It's 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London's Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town where Joe and Chris grew up. 

When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as just another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris's flatmate—to find out why. 

Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris's killer? 

A noirish whodunnit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer. 

TAINTED LOVE IS THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SOHO NOIR SERIES OF COZY CRIME NOVELLAS.

A trip back in time to the 80s with the murder of a gay man in London's Soho; a time of police indifference, with gay-bashing as a sport and general hostility towards the LGBT community.

Chris is at home in the bright lights of London, carving out a career with his fashion designs for his partnership in a small company, confident with his celebrity friends and the life and soul of the party.

Joe, his old school friend is less assured. A visit to London to see Chris - his old crush - ends in tragedy when Chris is murdered. Chris's flatmate Russell, an ex-cop and also gay, teams up with Joe to investigate the murder, in the knowledge that the detective assigned to the case couldn't be bothered. Detective Skinner and Russell have history with no love lost between the two.

An unlikely double act, secrets, dirty cops, dodgy politicians, a West End criminal with money and influence, a powerful family, a business partnership, history, family disappointment, a falling out, a drag queen with a crush, debts, manipulation, sex for sale, arrogance, AIDS, a charity in the community under threat, jealousy, grief, ambition, loss, assault, answers.

Short and sweet at about 130 pages long. I liked it. There's a peek inside a community under siege, harassed and prejudiced against. I felt a connection to the setting and the era with the music and fashions, the cultural references to the miner's strike and the support offered by the LGBT community, the fear of the killer disease on the block and the ever-present threat of violence from the intolerant.

Along the way, Joe gains confidence in himself as a person, something that is lacking at the beginning of our tale. He gains a friend in Russell, a better investigator than Skinner ever will be, but unfortunately drummed from the force, the victim of a sex-sting arranged by Skinner.

Our victim, Chris wasn't a particularly sympathetic victim......vain, arrogant as opposed to confident, a user, a manipulator, always longing to be the centre of attention, always self-centred and never too shy about letting down a friend. If I was around at the time and knew him, I might have been tempted to do the deed myself. That said, he had friends who loved and cared for him and who missed him. He couldn't have been that bad!

Lots to like and an assured debut from T.S. Hunter. Tainted Love is the first in a planned series of novellas. I'd be interested in the second offering whenever it drops.

4 from 5


Read - April, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 132
Source - review copy from publisher Red Dog Press
Format - paperback







The Buy link for Tainted Love is  mybook.to/Tainted_Love  
This will take you straight to the Amazon page for the book in your country.



9 comments:

  1. This may be one of those cases where your taste and mine aren't too far apart, Col. This sounds like a solid story in an interesting context and with an interesting premise. The characters sound appealing, too.

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    1. Glad to hear it holds some appeal for you Margot. It was a little bit different to my usual reading.

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  2. Sounds interesting. Not sure I want to add it to my stacks of books right now, but I would give it a try someday.

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    1. It's not too long which is a bonus, but also doesn't feel rushed either. You're not hurting for books though.

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  3. Col – The issues and the setting are intriguing. The decade of the 80s – before cell phones, before 9/11, even before Tony Blair and Bill Clinton – seems so incredibly long ago. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Elgin, I'm trying to get to some of my older pre-tech books.... internet, mobiles, social media, fake news - mostly written of the time period. It was interesting to read a new one set in those days. I can well remember the music and fashions of the 80s, I was in my late teens and 20s then. Some of them I'm trying to forget!

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  4. Something intriguing about this, partly because I will love the 80s details. Not sure where that word 'cozy' comes in though!

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    1. You might like it Moira, though yes - it's hard to see how the publisher can promote it as cozy and noir. Maybe they're trying to appeal to all shades of mystery reader?

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