13 February 2015

Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues) by Alex Beecroft

 Michael May is losing it. Long ago, he joined the Metropolitan Police to escape his father’s tyranny and protect people like himself. Now his father is dead, and he’s been fired for punching a suspect. Afraid of his own rage, he returns to Trowchester—and to his childhood home, with all its old fears and memories. When he meets a charming, bohemian bookshop owner who seems to like him, he clings tight.

Fintan Hulme is an honest man now. Five years ago, he retired from his work as a high class London fence and opened a bookshop. Then an old client brings him a stolen book too precious to turn away, and suddenly he’s dealing with arson and kidnapping, to say nothing of all the lies he has to tell his friends. Falling in love with an ex-cop with anger management issues is the last thing he should be doing.

Finn thinks Michael is incredibly sexy. Michael knows Finn is the only thing that still makes him smile. But in a relationship where cops and robbers are natural enemies, that might not be enough to save them.
Michael May is having a bad day and by the end of it, he is no longer a MET officer in London, and heading home to the fourth smallest city in the country where is dad has left him a house, and boat yard. While there and clearing out the junk his late father accumulated over the years, he’s struck by old flashback memories of is unhappy childhood and ghosts of his past. He runs into a book seller, Finn and together they help Michael discover not only the ghost, but help Finn resolve some issues in his own past.

Ok, I really wanted to like this story, I can’t put my figure on what I didn’t enjoy but I didn’t. I’ve read tons of British authors and growing up in England I have no problem with reading the different styles of writing and verbiage. I just couldn’t connect with these characters.  Michael was pleasant enough, Finn was charming. The bad guy’s just evil enough. And I would have enjoyed having Tea in the tea shop. Two more in the series, I’ll give them an ago because I really do think I would like them.
OK, I admit it, I'm a failure. I was going to make an 8 Tracks playlist for Trowchester Blues and then post it here with a rundown of why I chose each song. It would have been great. I have a friend who makes great playlists, where all the tracks are lovely, I've heard none of them before and immediately have to go buy half of them, and the lyrics and mood of the songs are uncannily perfect for the characters.

I should have asked her to make this for me, but I'm bad at asking people for things too. So, instead I'm going to take a crack at coming up with five songs that sum the book up, and linking to them on YouTube.

This is probably going to be beyond me too, but here goes. The first thing I think about when I think about the book is Michael. For Michael I want something that reflects his attempt to exorcise the ghost of his bad dad, so that could be something like this:

Down with the Sickness by Disturbed.

Except that's a mum and not a dad, and Michael, even though he's terrified that he is turning into the monster that his father was, isn't. The sound of it's very good though, all that black, bleak desperation and rage.

The trouble is that makes him sound far too aggressive, because really he's a big softy inside. I think of him as a big sad dog, although perhaps something of a Rottweiler. I googled songs about depression in an attempt to find something a bit softer that might sum him up as he is at the beginning of the book. This one made me laugh
It's not bad, but the funny thing about it is the line “Does your love only come, does your love only come, does he only come in a Volvo?” because Michael does in fact drive a Volvo, so really that line belongs to Finn.

I'm not doing well, am I? I've spent two hours, got two songs and neither of them are exactly right.

Let's see if we can do any better for Finn.

Apart from the fact that Michael's shoulders are roughly the size of Poland, this one is the best I've managed so far, even down to the fact that it's something he might enjoy listening to himself. He does have a distressing tendency towards easy listening.

Now, is there a song that sums up 'I'm an honest man now, but seduce me with your stolen books anyway, because I'll brave arson and kidnapping for a good manuscript'? I don't know. I don't know where I would even start looking.

Maybe it could be distilled down a little. He's maybe a bit of a trickster character, in the sense that he's indomitable and not entirely wedded to the idea of straightforward honesty. Is there anything I can find that encompasses that?

Ooh, look, yes I can. This is my closest yet. It's perhaps a bit too spooky for Finn, who is a charming sweetheart of a trickster, though he shares that element of 'lets just burn the world down' when he gets scared.

I'm making this sound like quite a grim book, aren't I? And while that's true in parts, the overall thrust of the thing is hopeful and, I hope, kind of comforting. What kind of can I find for that?

Well, there's always this:

Which I think Michael would consider romantic, and Finn might laugh at for its earnestness, but find touching anyway.

And then again there's this:

Because at the heart of it it's a book about two scarred and lonely people finding a haven in each other, and a tune about curling up together on a Sunday Morning while the rain falls outside is probably closest of all.

How about that? Six tunes. It is almost a playlist, and it only took me almost as long as it would have done to write two thousand words. I think I'll stick to the writing next time!
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Alex Beecroft's backlist (excepting Trowchester Blues). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 15. 


  1. Really looking forward to this read! Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Thanks for the post and song list. Unfortunately, I could not read half of it as the text was black against the black and white background. Maybe it is just a problem with my system...

    I have Trowchester Blues on my TBR list. It sounds great.

    jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

    1. I'm sorry about the coding errors. They are now fixed.