19 October 2014

Secrets by Jeff Erno

Chris Nelson is an up-and-coming police detective, new to the force, but his reputation precedes him. Everyone on the force knows he's openly gay and is married to his somewhat flamboyant husband, Ethan. At times Chris is a bit defensive about his sexual orientation, and he's all the more annoyed when his boss assigns him a murder case where the primary suspect is gay. Initially Chris fears he may become overly invested.

The murder victim is a swim coach at an all-boys military academy. He's found dead in the school's swimming pool, beaten by a baseball bat. One of the cadets, Alex Beauchamp has confessed to the crime, but the facts do not add it. Chris doesn't find it plausible that the 140 lb seventeen year old could have beaten his coach and dragged him to the pool.

As he digs deeper, Chris begins to unravel a complex web of abuse and deceit, but he can't get to the bottom of it without Alex's cooperation. The boy's been badly scarred, though, and he doesn't trust authority, so Chris has to find another way to uncover the secrets this victim is hiding.

For the most part, I really liked Secrets. While the idea of a school teacher sexually abusing his students and ending up murdered is not new, I enjoyed the way in which Mr. Erno presented the story. I am not a reader who tries to figure out “who done it” before the reveal; rather I prefer to go with the flow of the story and watch events unfold. I might have my suspicions as to who is responsible, but I try to refrain from jumping to conclusions. That said, I have to say that for one of the people who was involved – I never saw it coming, he was not even on my radar. And as more and more of the facts surrounding the case were unveiled, the level of conspiracy involved was astounding, yet presented in such a way that it was a believable story.

I enjoyed Mr. Erno’s writing style and felt that he treated a sensitive subject carefully. He infused the right amount of suspense into the story as Chris worked to clear an innocent kid’s name, while trying to find the actual party responsible. Chris’s reaction to a new partner when he’d been assured that he could work alone was authentic as was his reaction when he thought she had betrayed him. His relationship with his husband Ethan was clearly loving and I enjoyed most of their interactions.

Oddly enough, the part of the book that didn’t work for me was the part I expected to enjoy the most. If you’ve read my reviews before you know I am a fan of m/m romance. Yet with the exception of the opening sex scene – which was freaking hot – the remaining scenes kind of fell flat for me. They just felt contrived, as if they were added to the story solely for the purpose of having m/m sex scenes in the book. But despite this minor issue, Secrets was a great romantic suspense and I look forward to reading more of Mr. Erno’s writing and this series. 


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