The Paul Monroe Mystery: Death Tells A Tale – Felice Stevens writing as A.P. Eisen
Cliff Baxter is approached with a dream job, but it means time away from the man he loves and the family he’s only just reconciled with. When opportunity knocks twice and another unexpected offer comes his way, he and Paul make a decision neither dreamed possible, changing their lives forever.
Paul Monroe has everything he’s ever wanted—the man he loves, the respect of his coworkers…everything except the answer to his first murder investigation, the only case he’s never been able to solve.
Who killed Ginny Sweeten?
Follow along with Paul and his partner, Rob, as they wade through years-old evidence and piece together Thornwood Park’s most notorious cold case, leading to its startling and unexpected conclusion.
After dropping that cliffhanger in Book 3, Death Comes To Main Street, A.P. Eisen, also known as Felice Steven, delivers the much-awaited 4th installment, Death Tells A Tale. This is, sadly, also the finale of the gritty but cozy police procedural, The Paul Monroe Mysteries.
It’s common for mystery series to have the detective face their greatest nemesis at the latter point. Paul and his detective partner, Rob, went back to their very first case upon learning the bastard they had put behind bars was out.
Both were still green when they worked on Ginny Sweeten’s murder case. With sloppy forensic work done by lazy forensic officials, they barely got a conviction if not for a strand of hair. Now, they needed something more conclusive or else be dinged by technicalities.
Their investigation opened wounds that never truly healed. Paul and Rob met with the grief-stricken father, the uncaring mother, various schoolmates, and some nasty people. The villain was a piece of work who had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The bastard managed to form a cult fresh out of prison. He’s a lazy asshole who uses his good looks and considerable charm to con women into doing his bidding.
The plot is similar to the 3rd book in that the criminal is already known. It’s a matter of proving it. I liked how the plot was executed. It struck a good balance between giving detailed accounts of the investigation and Paul and Cliff’s personal life.
The mystery was pretty complex and challenging. It went through each step of the investigation while keeping me in the dark until the aha moment. You can feel the stress and frustration as the detectives combed through the old evidence, retracing their steps and trying to find anything they might have missed. I was thoroughly invested in the results because I hated the bad guy.
However, I echo some issues pointed out by other reviewers. I did find this installment the least intense. The pacing felt a tad slower. There were moments when I was just there for the ride. The resolution of the case also felt unsatisfying. I have commended the series for avoiding grand heroics, yet I couldn’t help wanting a more impactful resolution this time. Especially with the kind of villain it has. Even the conflict regarding Cliff’s job came across as dry. While it mirrors very real career woes, it just doesn’t make for a riveting read.
Apart from the good mystery, another of the thing that kept me going was my love for the characters. Paul and Cliff had come a long way, and they’re firmly heading for that HEA. They’re proof that you don’t need big fights or miscommunications to make the romance exciting. I loved how happy and healthy their relationship was. And that it also feels real and relatable. This is what makes this noirish series cozy.
Paul in particular, had grown so much. From a deeply closeted cop to somebody who is infinitely more comfortable in his own skin. And an awesome boyfriend to boot!
Cliff has always been amazing from the start. He’s a well-respected, uber-competent hotel manager. He handled Paul’s coming to terms with his sexuality in the most-level headed, most understanding and most patient way possible. They’re one of my favorite out-for-you stories.
Death Tells A Tale wraps up a very enjoyable mystery series. It brings the detectives full circle while inspiring the boyfriends to take the leap forward. There might be some mixed feels and pacing issues, but overall, it’s still quite a tale to tell.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
Follow Paul as he finds himself with Cliff, stumbles upon dead bodies, catch bad guys and work towards an HEA with his guy in The Paul Monroe Mysteries. The books should be read in order. Check out my review of the first three books below:
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Love Is Stronger Than Death for a book about helping people find closure after years of grief and heartache.
In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch
All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath
But, awoken by grief our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached and a heart that beat
And lips that smiled and eyes that cried, could ever die?
Here come the blue skies, here comes the springtime
When the rivers run high and the tears run dry
When everything that dies, shall rise
Among the many covers, I liked Christian Hovda’s version the most but you can also listen to the original below:
This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.