Snowball in Hell

It is 1943. When the body of a feckless younger son of a high society family is dredged out of the La Brea tar pits, Detective Matthew Spain knows it's a case that could change his life. He doesn't initially suspect how much, even though from the start he is fascinated by the reporter on the case; war veteran Nathan Doyle. As the investigation progresses, it becomes obvious that the victim was a blackmailer. Nathan has a dangerous secret, which could lose him his job and his reputation - he's gay. As Matthew finds himself falling in love with Nathan - much to his own confusion and distress - he also has to face the fact that Nathan is fast becoming his prime suspect in the murder investigation.

Appropriately for the historic setting of the book, Josh Lanyon writes in a different style from his usual urbane voice. The beginning of the story is told in a hard-boiled style reminiscent of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow. It gives a good feeling of the period, but I didn't like it, as it felt choppy and rushed to the extent that I sometimes found it hard to follow who was who and what was going on. However, a couple of chapters in, either the choppy style began to smooth out, or I began to get used to it and to be sucked into the story, because it got so much better later. For me, the real heart of the thing was the love story. Nathan's loneliness and fear, and his yearning for love were so well drawn that I hurt for him, making the tenderness of the love scenes absurdly touching. I think I choked up on several occasions. For a book in which people get shot, kidnapped, blackmailed and beaten up, I think this is still one of the most wonderfully romantic things I've ever read. Indeed, the realistic peril; the sense that at any moment everything could go wrong, makes the triumph of love all the more valuable. Ah, I'm over-analyzing, but basically, the adventure and investigation was exciting and believable, and the love story one of the best I've ever read. Don't let the first chapter or so put you off, this is a definite keeper!


Book Blurb for Snowball in Hell

It's 1943 and the world is at war. Journalist Nathan Doyle has just returned home from North Africa--still recovering from wounds received in the Western Desert Campaign--when he's asked to cover the murder of a society blackmailer.

Lt. Matthew Spain of the LAPD homicide squad hates the holidays since the death of his beloved wife a few months earlier, and this year isn't looking much cheerier what with the threat of attack by the Japanese and a high-profile homicide investigation. Matt likes Nathan; maybe too much.

If only he didn't suspect that Nathan had every reason to commit murder.


Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2007 4.50