Friday, June 29, 2018

Sinner's Gin

Rhys Ford
Dreamspinner Press
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars


There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.

After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.

Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.

My Review

Miki St. John has had a really hard life. He was abandoned as a child, shuttled between foster homes, and eventually adopted by a man who sexually abused him. He joins a successful rock band, achieves fame, and then barely survives a car accident that killed his entire band shortly after they won a Grammy Award. As if that isn’t enough, the corpse of the man who abused him happens to be in Miki’s car.

All Miki has right now is the warehouse he calls home, his stray dog and a bum knee. Thanks to his nuisance dog, Dude, he now has Kane.

Kane Morgan is a police inspector renting space next door for his woodworking projects and is immediately taken by Miki’s belligerence and his haunted eyes that give just a glimpse at the pain inside him. Though the murder investigation brings both men closer, there are many difficulties ahead.

Is it just me, or is it possible that a fictional character can be burdened with so many problems that he no longer seems realistic and therefore is difficult to empathize with? Sure, Miki has difficulty trusting others, but I would have liked to see more evidence of the psychological, sexual and emotional problems that occur in victims of childhood sexual abuse. Even though Miki and Kane didn’t rush into a sexual relationship, I felt their sex was a little too easy and spontaneous, making me feel that Miki’s deeper needs were not being met. He’s a broken young man who needs the help of a good therapist. Kane is simply not enough. I love reading about damaged characters, but they have to be believable.

Kane’s close-knit, suffocatingly sweet Irish family was just a little too perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect family. Sometimes you have to look a little deeper below the surface to find the problems, but you can be sure they will be there.

It’s OK to use personal pronouns. I had quite enough of the man, the singer, the cop, the inspector which was often annoying and took me out of the story.

Then there was the murder investigation that eventually led to a perpetrator who seemingly came out of nowhere and an arson incident that made absolutely no sense.

The word “exotic” to describe Miki’s Asian features really rubbed me the wrong way. It is a fine word to use to refer to plants, wildlife, landscapes. It is such a loaded word when used for people. To me, exotic implies “other”, “foreign”, “different”, and why should races other than white be considered exotic as if white is the default, the norm, when whites make up less than 25% of the world’s population?

I liked the song lyrics at the beginning of each chapter revealing the depth of Miki’s friendship with his best friend and fellow band member, Damien, and was totally surprised by that twisty ending that makes me curious about the direction this series will take.

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