Paul Monroe Mystery: Couldn’t Cheat Death – A.P. Eisen
Detective Paul Monroe has little room in his life for anything but work. Maintaining order and solving cases in the town of Thornwood Park keeps him busy. When Jerry Gregoria, a popular bartender and personal trainer is found murdered, there’s no shortage of suspects. It seems Jerry was busy shaking more than cocktails all over town, leaving Paul and his partner with an ever-growing list of men and women who have reasons to want Jerry dead. The deeper Paul delves into the case, the more he finds himself drawn to hotel manager Cliff Baxter, whom he hasn’t seen in years.
Cliff Baxter’s childhood crush on Paul Monroe hasn’t waned since high school. In fact, with the sexy detective conducting the investigation at the hotel, Cliff is more than happy to help. Ever since his last relationship went up in flames, Cliff has made it a rule to never get involved with a closeted man. But after Paul is threatened and things between the two heat up, Cliff decides to make an exception.
With new twists in the case popping up every day and the mayor breathing down the police department’s neck, Paul needs to solve the case yesterday. It takes a crisis for Paul and Cliff to realize what started out as something casual could be everything they’ve both been looking for but never thought to find. But if the killer strikes again, they might never get that chance.
A.P. Eisen is a new author and her debut, Couldn’t Cheat Death, book one of the Paul Monroe Mystery, showed a lot of promise. It’s the kind of book you go for if you want a light, easy, satisfying romance mystery.
Detective Paul Monroe, known in his department as Bulldog for his relentless pursuit of a case, was called to investigate the murder of a bartender from a hotel. The victim was a larger than life, when-does-he-sleep sex machine who slept with anything with a pulse so their list of suspects was a mile long. One of the first persons he questioned was hotel manager, Cliff Baxter, who turned out to be his late brother’s best friend.
First, I really enjoyed Paul and Cliff as a couple. Cliff had crush on Paul since they were teens and their shared history gave them a common ground which made the fast-paced (and also slow-burn) development of their relationship believable.
Paul is in the closet and occasionally relieves stress with anonymous hookups. Generally, I don’t like stories about being in the closet but this issue was handled pretty well. It was light on angst, no self-loathing or shame but more about a person so used to a certain way of life that he can’t be bothered much about changing it. Unless he has a very good reason to do so and Cliff, kind, cheerful and understanding, made a compelling argument. He fell naturally into place and fit comfortably in Paul’s routine. I especially liked the way they talked liked sensible adults about the whole relationship/coming out thing. So no petty squabbles or misunderstandings here, thank god!
I also liked that nobody pressured anybody about anything. Paul is a workaholic loner and very upfront with the fact that he always puts the case above anything else. Amazingly, Cliff didn’t throw a hissy fit at coming second. In fact, he was a big help in the case and had a great time while at it. Even Paul’s partner and only friend, Rob, knew when not to push even though he knew about Paul and simply told him he’ll be there when he’s ready to say it.
Case-wise, it was not the most procedural of police stories. A glaring clue tipped me off on the killer’s identity but overall, I still think it had a solid investigation to read about. I could understand why this book has high ratings in Goodreads. Even with the predictable part, the writing kept me engaged until the end. The characters were people I’d like to know more. The author wisely veered away from unnecessary conflict, focusing instead on communication. This is not, in any way, novel but it was, in a way, refreshing given the frequency miscommunications occur. I even think the story hardly had any serious conflicts. It had a straightforwardness to it that appealed to me which I hope would carry over to the next books. Because I’m there for the next one and I’d like to see where this series is heading.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love