Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - In the Flesh by Ethan Stone

I've come across this book lately on Wave's site. Looked nice enough, so I bought it. Didn't think it would turn out so fascinating I need to re-read it right now although there's a shitload of books in my TBR and sitting idly on my Sony. Well, if needs must...

This is how I reviewed it on Goodreads.

In the beginning this books is factual, dry, a little distanced, just like Cristian Flesh, the first person narrator. It picks up pace fairly quickly, though.

The characters were very believable, particularly Cristian, a genuine flawed hero with a painful past which is never entirely revealed but still hinted at often enough to make his motives understandable. He keeps himself distanced from everybody and has surrounded himself with a fortress wall of rules for nearly every aspect of his life, especially his sex life. It takes a very confident, very strong man to get Cris to break his rules. This would be Colby Maddox, the lawyer who defends Cris when he's accused of the murder of one of his hookups. Although it's only sex in the beginning, Cris comes to realize that he wants more with Colby, or rather that he can't escape the way Colby wants more with him - and what's even more of a revelation for don't-have-sex-twice-in-a-row-with-the-same-guy Cris, that he doesn't even want to escape.

The actual mystery was realitically written, too, with futile research and meeting dead ends, with false solutions and bad evidence, just like in real life.

I liked the little quirks the author worked into the book, like the names: the bible-thumper Pryor, the tough-as-nails partner detective Alexandra "Lex" Luther, the bald, very carnal hero Flesh, or Kismet, the hooker whose clues finally help solving the murder. Also, I very much liked the way the writing changed from the almost cold beginning to passionate emotional passages when Cris finally allows himself to feel again.

There were a few very minor niggles too, little breaks in the logic. For example, why a man who is as promiscuous yet aware of the risks as Cris would allow himself being taken bare when it's still only sex for him, or why he would go back for more sex with the victim, Sanchez, thus breaking one of his rules, when he was still far from that point in his personal development. At one time, Colby was playing with Cris's hair, yet there was no indication before that Cris had grown any by that time. Also there were some repetitions of phrases the author seemed to be fond of. But these were really very minor niggles, more like "huh?" moments.

Overall, a great read, fast-paced action mystery with a flawed hero who grows and develops over the course of the book, and an emotional, passionate, realistic romance, written with great skill and without a single superfluous word. Definitely a keeper.    

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