Harrison Baxter lives on a farm with his parents, on the outskirts of the village of Harmschapel. It’s picturesque, idyllic and tranquil – but Harrison is far from happy. His parent’s marriage is strained to say the least and on top of that, his boyfriend, Daniel, has been mentally and physically abusing him for years. After he finds himself with one bruise too many, Harrison has had enough. But when he plucks up the courage to finally end his violent relationship, Harrison’s life is changed forever when Daniel is found murdered in the most bizarre circumstances. Detective Sergeant Blake Harte has moved to Harmschapel after his own relationship ended in tatters. But moving to a quiet village after working his way up the ranks in a city brings its own set of problems and Blake soon finds himself at odds with new colleagues who aren’t used to his style of policing. But when he is called upon to investigate the mysterious and impossible murder at Halfmile Farm, Blake finds himself facing the most challenging case of his career. So how can Daniel have been shot in a locked shed that nobody could possibly have escaped from? Is anybody really Untouchable?
Dear Robert Innes,
I stumbled upon your book while browsing amazon selection of gay mysteries and even though it was free on Kindle Unlimited I happily bought it for 99 cents. I ended up being very pleased with my purchase.
In the beginning of the story we see Detective Sergeant Blake Harte moving to the village from Manchester after his boyfriend left him for a woman after five years of them being together. Blake asked for a transfer himself, but his superior was only too happy to oblige because he did not really care for Blake’s “unconventional” policing methods. Unfortunately or fortunately on his first day on the job when he is introducing himself to his coworkers and the boss Blake gets thrown into investigating the murder. Murders do not happen often in the village of Harmschapel and this murder seems to be a murder in the locked room so to speak.
Daniel, a guy who was murdered was a boyfriend, or I guess an ex-boyfriend of Harrison Baxter, since right before he was murdered Harrison was very clear about his desire to break up with Daniel even if Daniel did not seem to want that. Blurb is very clear that Daniel was abusing Harrison, and that’s the main reason why Harrison had enough. When Daniel is trying to attack Harrison in response to Harrison’s proclamation that it is all over, Harrison’s dad runs in the room, catches Daniel and locks him in the shed and is picking up the phone to call the police over Daniel’s attack of his son.
When police and Blake with them comes in, very shortly they hear the shot and when shed is opened Daniel has no pulse and when ambulance comes he is proclaimed dead.
Now instead of domestic violence situation Blake and his team have the murder on their hands – murder which should not have been able to happen in the first place, since shed was locked and nobody could came in and kill Daniel, but it did.
"-” Gardiner began. “Yeah, I know that.” Blake nodded. “Circumstantially, at the very least, it should all fit together. But this isn’t a normal murder case. This happened in a locked shed for God’s sake. We’re not just trying to work out who, but how. And from what we’ve seen Harrison, surely, couldn’t"
I really liked the mystery and its resolution in this book. I thought the whole story was very tightly written and the writer did not seem to waste any words, I felt like every word was necessary to move the story forward. This was one of the mysteries where we have limited number of suspects (very limited in this one in fact), but if you think that you have it figured it out right away, think again. It is hard, almost impossible not to think about suspect right away, but the writer managed to surprise me not once but twice with the resolution. I also thought it was very realistic.
You would probably want to know whether there is a romance in this book. No, it is a gay mystery, not romance set upon mystery settings and not even mystery/romance. True, there is a barest hint of attraction between the policeman and one of the suspects, but Blake reminds himself that he is investigating the murder of Harrison’s boyfriend and that’s about it. There is nothing sexual and nothing is sexualized meaning that we are not treated to policeman and Harrison having sexual fantasies about each other, which to me would have been just as irritating as if they had sex while being policeman and suspect.
“Blake sighed as he watched Harrison leave. He knew he was doing the right thing but he wanted nothing more at that moment than to run after Harrison and bring him back. He looked absolutely desperate. Sometimes he wished that there weren’t such stringent rules that he had to abide by. But sitting down and having a drink with, whether he agreed with it or not, a main suspect in a murder investigation would lead to not only the case being completely and utterly tarnished but him losing his job. Sometimes he had to have almost robotic emotions."
There is a hint that they may develop something more in the epilogue when they go for a drink nine months after the events of the book but if this happens (which I do not mind at all), I personally hope their romance remains in the background and mystery investigation remains main focus of the series.