REVIEW: Bone to Pick by T.A.Moore
Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home.
He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.
This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.
Dear TA Moore,
I really enjoyed your book “Liar, Liar” and reviewed it here at DA so, when I saw you had a new one out, I happily one-clicked.
This review is easy to summarize in one sentence. It was a good mystery but, for me, did not work as romance at all.
The blurb provides a good set up for the reader. Our heroes must work together while investigating the kidnapping of a child. I thought mystery storyline was quite good. I thought it was complex enough but still provided enough clues to solve the mystery when one looked back. I liked how the investigation was executed and enjoyed reading about Cloister interacting with his dog Bourneville.
Let me once again give my usual speech about romance in gay mysteries and thrillers. It *doesn’t need* it to be present at all, I would happily read about investigation alone, but it is always a nice bonus to hear that the investigator/detective/policeman has a loved one at home. I am totally fine with the romance storyline playing a secondary or background role in a mystery book (or not exist at all). But I do think that if one puts two guys who are clearly physically attracted to one another front and center as in this book, shouldn’t there be some signs of a deeper attraction as well? Shouldn’t we see some chemistry between them?
Moreover, this is a book published by a romance publisher. It is not even part of their DSP publications line, where romance often takes a secondary role and other storylines move to the forefront. I enjoyed so many of those books.
This book contains one of my favorite romance tropes (and I am usually deeply ambivalent to tropes, but still enjoy this one) – from enemies to lovers. I would argue that the execution of this trope was not well done at all. When I finished this book I saw the similarities to “Liar! Liar” but, while “Liar! Liar!” worked for me, this one didn’t at all. I get that the author was going for understated chemistry here but it was so understated I did not feel anything at all about either protagonist.
I glanced at some reviews and it seemed that some did not like Javi (one of the guys) being an ass at times. But that was not my problem per se, I was totally fine with Javi being an asshole in general, as he called himself one several times in the story. I really did not think that he was being an asshole while doing his job – he did not coddle anyone and investigated every angle. I absolutely understood Lara’s attitude while they were searching for her boy but, when all was said and done, IMO she should have been just as grateful to Javi as she was to Cloister.
While I love well done antagonistic chemistry, I could not handle Javi being an asshole to Cloister *for no reason at all*. Just what had the poor guy ever done to him? I had no idea even when I finished the book. I need reasons for dislike or hate, and I need to see how this emotion changes as the book progresses. Here it seemed the only reason the writer gave us was that Javi was hiding his sexual desires behind his antagonism. I usually find that unconvincing in any story and this book was no exception.
At least I thought the ending was fitting. I don’t even know if I would call it HFN, but I guess one could call it that since Javi and Cloister intend to continue their sexual relationship.
Grade: B for mystery D for romance