A dead young hustler is found on the lawn of a queer-baiting legislator. Boston’s political and queer communities are up in arms about the matter, and police are bent on finding the killer — fast. Best friends Daniel Valentine and Clarisse Lovelace team up and hit the streets of Boston. Through a sinister underworld of bars and baths, bondage and blackmail, they’re out to solve a very bizarre murder.
(The cover image above is far more interesting than the edition I had…)
Vermilion is a murder mystery, a genre I almost never read. I can count the number of murder mysteries I’ve read on one hand and still have fingers left over. Thus, I can’t really review this book in the context of the murder mystery genre, as I don’t know what the tropes and expectations of the genre are.
However, it was definitely an enjoyable book.
Valentine and Lovelace make a fun team of investigators. They aren’t police, PIs, or anything like that — they’re two people who want to see this murder solved. And the fact that Searcy, a homophobic cop, is bent on proving that the entire queer community is somehow responsible, only complicates matters. Valentine and Lovelace investigate the murder in their own way, using their network of gay colleagues, friends, and lovers to help them track down information — an avenue of investigation not open to Searcy.
The mystery was well laid out, the kind of mystery where it’s possible to fit the pieces together if you work really hard, but it’s in no way predictable. Based on the back cover blurb, though, I was expecting a little more sex — but this isn’t an erotic mystery. While I was a tad disappointed by that, it certainly didn’t detract from the story and it was probably stronger for not having sex scenes.
While a tad slow in spots, Vermilion was an enjoyable read. It was one of very few forays into murder mysteries that I’ve taken and I enjoyed it. When my to-read pile diminishes a bit — as it is, in fact, slowly doing — I’ll check if the library has another Nathan Aldyne mystery. (Hmm… I just noticed on Goodreads that Vermilions is the first in a series of murder mysteries starring Valentine and Lovelace — I am now definitely going to see if I can track down the next couple books!)