The Paul Monroe Mystery: Death Comes To Main Street – Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen
In the sleepy town of Thornwood Park, something dark and ugly is brewing….
Detective Paul Monroe is investigating a routine string of break-ins when the case takes an unexpected turn. Merchants are receiving threats, and things might be more sinister than he originally suspected. Paul’s been on the receiving end of those warnings as well, but he brushes them off, not bothering to mention them to his partner, Cliff until Cliff himself is threatened.
In fact, Cliff discovers he’s been shut out of quite a few things and confronts Paul, who doesn’t understand the problem. The situation escalates quickly, leaving them at a crossroads, with Cliff conflicted and wondering if he’s an equal partner. Now Paul finds himself not only fighting for the people he’s sworn to protect, but for his relationship and the man who means everything to him.
When an unthinkable tragedy occurs, it’s a race against time to catch a killer who thinks he’s untouchable and has committed the perfect crime.
I’ve always described The Paul Monroe Mysteries as understated. I’m not sure if it’s the right term but I liked how fuss free the stories are. They avoided grand heroics or any over the top action yet delivered engaging, suspenseful police procedurals and heartfelt romance.
Death Comes To Main Street is the third installment. I found this darker and gritter than its predecessors. Paul and his work partner, Rob, were investigating a series of robberies, threatening notes and suspected arson that resulted in the tragic death of a close friend. These appeared to be hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. Paul and Cliff also had to deal with homophobic neighbors who were also the main suspects.
While there are these unpleasantness, this was also, in a way, a happy book. Paul and Cliff’s relationship were as strong as ever. They both had busy, high-stressed jobs but they made it work. They remained solid and in sync even with Cliff’s issues with Paul’s over-protectiveness. They’re comfortable and happy. That really shone through all the negativity.
Paul took major leaps forward by coming out to his boss and co-workers. I liked that this wasn’t the focus of the story but came about as part of Paul being ready to fully embrace who he is. And I’ve always appreciated how patient and supportive Cliff was about this and everything.
Being a detective’s boyfriend and having been involved in the last two cases, Cliff could have easily poked his nose in Paul’s new investigations. I’m so glad he did not turn into some kind of amateur sleuth. The story also repeatedly emphasized that Paul does not discuss his cases with Cliff. This is another thing I liked because it showed Paul’s professionalism. Even when his boyfriend was harassed, Paul admirably kept his cool and handled it like the pro he is.
Cliff’s involvement in the case, albeit through some unfortunate circumstances, happened naturally. The author did a great job letting his character shine even with Paul working closely with another character.
This series has a good supporting cast. Rob stood out the most because he’s Paul’s partner and best friend. He’s always the first to defend Paul against the stupid and the bigoted. Also, there’s Annabelle who’s not even on page 99% of the time but is strongly felt because Rob always mentions his adored wife. There was the introduction of a new character, Joshua. His appearance added an interesting minor thread to follow.
This time around, the series amped up it’s procedural by showing us the nitty gritty of the investigation. While realistic and detailed, it moved things at a brisk pace and happily, did not bore us with minutiae.
The villains were all given so it was a matter of Paul and Rob finding enough evidence to arrest them. I like this approach to mystery because it’s not so common. Usually, we are left to guess the identity of the bad guy. Proving the guilt of the obviously guilty but slippery is interesting as well as satisfying. For me, it reflects real life crime. Wherever we are, there’s always some notorious lowlife who manages to evade arrest despite repeat offenses.
Death Comes To Main Street gives us the things we love about the series while spicing it up with a tiff and a little more grit. There’s some low-key flash and bang but still a roller coaster of emotions, going from love and passion to grief, fear and anger, to acceptance and relief. Ultimately, it leads us to a happy end but leaves us hanging at the very last second. So not my favorite way to close a story but it does set the next one up nicely.
Follow Paul as he finds himself with Cliff, stumbles upon dead bodies and catch bad guys in The Paul Monroe Mysteries. The books should be read in order. Check out my review of the first two books below:
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Four Bears Construction: Hardwood – K.M. Neuhold
I’ve spent forty-four years of my life telling the world I’m a carpet man. Is it too late to admit to myself and everyone else that deep down I’m really all about the Hardwood?
It took me over thirty-five years to admit to myself that I’m gay, another seven to find the courage to say it out loud to anyone else, and exactly thirty seconds to develop a massive crush on my daughter’s music teacher. It’s really not my fault, have you even seen those cute bowties he wears?
After everything it’s taken to get here, am I going to work up the nerve to come out to my ex-wife and my best friends? Am I ready to shake up my comfortable, simple life and take a chance on Watson? Or am I going to throw a wrench in my own chance for happily ever after?
***Hardwood is a steamy, seriously so much delicious tension, single-dad, gay awakening, low angst story, which happens to be the third in the Four Bears Construction Series. It CAN be read as a stand alone. There are NO shifters in this series, only the OTHER kind of bears.***
I’m super eager to get to poor Ollie’s story but first, Ev gets his happily ever after.
Everett is known as the only straight guy among the Four Bears. He’s a divorced single dad who adores his daughter, Livi. Unknown to all his friends and family, Everett has been struggling to come out for years but couldn’t find the courage to do so. He has long resigned himself to a life of solo Thanksgiving dinners. It took one fabulous and cuddly music teacher with a penchant for cute bow ties to make him realize, he could have so much more. If only he could embrace his true self.
I’m not particularly fond of in-the-closet stories because they usually involved a lot of lies and cover ups. Everett had to constantly do it to his friends and ex-wife, Val. As a result, it felt a lot like he was cheating. And him dragging his ass dragged the story down too, especially at the middle part.
The group banter was missing for most of the story, which I think was another reason why it felt kind of meh. Also, I know they were meant to be funny but the awkward situations Ev got himself into in his alone time were more cringey than amusing.
These sad vibes aside, I think the coming out part was handled pretty well. I keep expecting the caught-in the act plot twist but yay! we were spared such cliches. And sure, it took a looong time for Everett to do it and it hurt his boyfriend to be treated like a dirty secret but I appreciated how the story emphasized that coming out should be on one’s own time. It was also important that Ev and Wats were honest with each other from the start.
I expected the Bears’s and Val’s reactions to be anti-climactic, like they would say, they already know. I enjoyed how the plot surprised me on this point too. Most especially, I loved how supportive and understanding Watson was, hurts and all. He was the best character here!
Four Bears Construction is notable for featuring mature MCs. Ev is 44. He could have easily become a Daddy for a much younger love interest so I’m happy that Wats is 40. All too often, characters above 40 end up in age-gap romance. Good job to the author for taking a different route.
The story picked up after there were more interactions with the other Bears. Ev was spurred into action and roped the guys in to help him bust a move. Damn right, because after what he had been through, Wats deserved some major wooing.
Hardwood was mix of highs and lows but ended on a strong note. The book certainly held true to its promise of delicious tension. The chemistry between Everett and Watson was fantastic from the get go! Their journey together was not easy but it was worth the fight. Wats went from flirty friend to first boyfriend, all the while holding Ev’s hand as he went through his awakening. Ev gifted him with his many firsts, something Wats will always treasure. He gets the forevers too.
Four Bears Constructions is a series full of winning characters you couldn’t help but root for. While the books can be read as standalones, I recommend meeting all the Bears properly by reading the books in order. Read reviews of the other books here.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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