Aug 11, 2013

[Books] The Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Steele Mystery

For some reason, gay detective stories are a thing. I mean there's a distinct genre now and a number of books and movies that all focus on gay detectives of one kind or another.

I had previously reviewed the movies based on the Donald Strachey mystery novels and so I was rather hopeful when I saw this title over on Net Galley. Participating in all these review programs has encouraged me to take the plunge and try new authors as often as I can in order to further expand my reading horizons.

I didn't know much about or this book series, or the fact that it was part of a series of novels. And it didn't help that this was the second novel in the series (or at least not the first one), thus my experience of going into a series blind wasn't quite as fulfilling as I had hoped. Normally we readers enjoy the adventure of getting into a story with little to no preconceptions that may taint our impression of the book. A lot of times it can result in very interesting adventures.

This time around I'm not entirely sure it was a good thing. My initial disorientation with the title didn't contribute to my enjoyment of the book. Then the writing just took over at that point.

Synopsis: The Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Steele Mystery is at least the second book in the Derrick Steele series of detective novels written by Zavo. Like many other Zavo novels, it's an erotica piece that is definitely heavier on the erotica than the mystery side of the equation.

After the events of Derrick Steele: Private Dick the Case of the Hollywood Hustlers, the trio of detectives - Derrick, his brother Nathan, and his new lover Daniel, are working hard to expand the family detective agency. These plans include considering new detectives from New York to handle the growing caseload. At the same time, the family has a new problem to deal with in the form of a "new" member of the family coming to town.

But the central case of this story involves a young Hollywood actor being blackmailed with the demand that he quit his latest Hollywood film project. Derrick quickly gets on the case but also feels an instictive attraction towards the young movie star. But of course he's still in a relationship with Daniel, albeit a very open relationship. How all these things come together and generally resolve themselves is the real trick of this particular mystery novel.

The very first chapter of the book opens up with a sex dream sequence, and thus it pretty much sets the tone for the novel. These scenes are definitely NSFW given the use of language, but at the same time they're not overly descriptive or elaborate. You end up spending 1-3 pages reading about the characters get into this sexual situation or another and then it's back to business as usual. And seriously, does Derrick sleepy with more than half the town or something?

When you take out all the sex, you're left with a very shallow narrative and not much of a mystery at all. A good detective story presents the reader with the same facts that the detective has, thus allowing both to make conclusions as the story progresses. Here the reveals end up being the use of fat-fetched tropes that were not foreshadowed in any way. Thus for the most part we're depending on the writer's narrative persona to give us what we need in terms of the story.

I think one of the biggest problems is Derrick himself. He's just not a very likable character in the role of the hero. For lack of a better term, he's an uncontrollable slut and will take any offer of sex that comes up. He comes from a well to-do family that seems to answer his every need and thus we move away from the struggling detective agency trope that we see in so other mystery franchises.

What irks me the most is the weird notion of how much people can accomplish in a day given the author's desire to somehow illustrate how rich Derrick's family is. I mean seriously, who decides that the best thing to do at the of a tiring day is to go for a "little" horseback riding, swimming, and then billiards all before dinner? Is it really expected that adults don't have control to whom their inheritance should go to and thus an older half-brother may then take over everything you had as a family basis base of a technicality? WTF?

The Case of the Rising Star: A Derrick Stele is a crappy book that I'm glad that I didn't actally pay for. I do not recommend this book and thus rate it as 1 odd moment of Derrick getting aroused over the course of his investigation out of a possible 5.

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