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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This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.0
Paul Monroe Mystery: Diagnosis: Death – A.P. Eisen
When a body is found in the park, Paul Monroe knows two things: this isn’t a simple mugging, and the weekend he has planned with his boyfriend is officially over before it begins. With no murder weapon but a slew of suspects at the ready, Paul and his partner, Rob, begin the tedious task of piecing together the few clues they have.
Happier than he’s ever been, Cliff knows there’s more to Paul than the tough exterior the man shows to the world, but Cliff is determined to take things slow. An unexpected phone call forces him to revisit the pain of his past, and now he needs Paul more than ever, but he’s hesitant to ask, unwilling to pressure Paul into a decision he might not be ready to make.
Paul’s investigation means more long nights away from Cliff, who is grappling with his unsettling news. Not being able to support Cliff isn’t sitting right with Paul, and for the first time his personal life is as important as his job. Knowing he has Paul to lean on gives Cliff the courage to speak and to heal old wounds as they navigate the minefield of building a relationship. Meanwhile, a killer walks the streets of Thornwood Park, and Paul won’t be satisfied until they are caught and justice served.
I really liked A.P. Eisen’s debut novel, Couldn’t Cheat Death, the first book of the Paul Monroe Mystery. I mentioned that the storytelling had a straightforwardness that appealed to me. Diagnosis: Death is angstier but had the same feel. Although this time, the straightforward quality of the writing had a tendency to feel a bit bland at some points. This is minor and didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the novel.
The book is a murder mystery/police procedural with a nice little romantic subplot. Family troubles, past and present, make themselves known all around. A long-suffering wife, an obsessed maid and a drug-addicted son were all involved in the murder. Cliff’s parents reached out to him 15 years after he was thrown out of the house, with the news that his mother is ill. Paul is slowing opening up and coming out to Cliff’s friends and his dad. Even Rob, Paul’s partner, is dealing with his wife’s difficult pregnancy.
There were many recurring characters. The victim here was the doctor who had an affair with the victim from the first book. The doc, who is a closeted gay or bi, slept with his personal trainer in the same gym, following his MO from the first book. The personal trainer was a douche who had no qualms blackmailing the doc, making him the most likely suspect.
The mystery was well-written. The procedural was the same as the first book, not so hardcore on the procedures but still investigative enough to satisfy any fan’s yen for the genre. About midway through the story, the perp became obvious but I still enjoyed reading how Paul and Rob figured it out.
I also liked that this series is not a partner-to-lovers trope. All too often, MM police procedurals tend to fall in that category so I appreciated Paul and Rob’s partnership+friendship.
On a more personal note, Cliff and Paul navigates their three-month old relationship. I really liked how the author handled this part, letting the conflict come from the outside rather than between the two men. Cliff and Paul are probably the most level-headed bookish couple I’ve come across with. For somebody who has never been in a relationship, Paul pretty much aced it as a boyfriend. And no matter how much shit his well-meaning friends tried to stir, i.e. warnings about Cliff letting himself be the dirty secret once again, Cliff didn’t let it poison his view that Paul will come out when he’s ready.
Diagnosis: Death is a good continuation to the series. It picked up where the first book left off and made good use of the old characters and their habits. There’s great character and relationship development and I hope the author would continue their progress without resorting to the usual Big Fight. So far this series delivered and I’m looking forward to the next case!
The books are best read in order. Review of book one, Couldn’t Cheat Death here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits0
“First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits. “
I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.0
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 love0