Review: Idyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll-FearsRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Thomas Lynch has spent nearly a year cooling his heels as the Chief of Police for the Idyll, Connecticut police force. The near constant reminders of his former partner on the LAPD have slowed as Lynch assimilates to small-town life. Yet things are far from idyllic in the tiny town. Despite being a driving force behind solving the shocking murder of a young and popular female resident of Idyll, Lynch’s coming out as gay has not exactly helped ease his transition.

Nothing makes his status as “outsider” clearer than the ribbing he takes a work. It goes beyond ribbing when his patrol car gets tagged with a homophobic slur. Not to mention the hate-speech filled calls he gets at home and work. There is little sympathy for gay men in Idyll and Lynch isn’t the type to go to pieces over some mean-spirited name calling—he’ll just do what he does best and use his skills as a police officer to bring justice to the perpetrators.

Then, another huge case stuns the tiny town: a local boy goes missing days before Christmas. A bona fide blizzard hampers the search effort and puts the missing boy, Cody Forrand, in extra danger. Cody suffers from CIPA, meaning he is physically incapable of feeling pain and that includes frostbite and hypothermia. With the clock ticking away, Lynch rallies his men and multiple volunteers to go on an all out search for the boy.

With each passing hour, the chances of finding Cody alive diminish. Yet not long after Christmas, a hot tip lands on Lynch’s desk and the boy is found alive and unharmed. Everything should have been just fine…except the boy goes missing again just days later.

Even though the Idyll PD have a solid hunch on who snatched Cody, there isn’t any evidence that would stand up in a court of law. When the going gets tough, the tough get help from the Feds. Together, they piece together more and more of the puzzle, but still struggle to find enough commonality to flesh out the story of how and why any of this happened. If it weren’t for the help of Agent Waters, a self-proclaimed human lie detector, Lynch and the Feds may have missed an opportunity to link all their theories together. Solving the mystery of who took Cody and where isn’t enough. For a boy with CIPA in the dead of winter, it’s a race against the clock to find Cody…except there are no guarantees they’ll find him dead or alive.

Here is another great read from the Thomas Lynch series. Like the first book in the series, Idyll Threats, this book keeps Thomas Lynch as our first-person narrator. I like having such an intimate view into his thought processes. Taken together, there is such a robust depiction of the character Lynch, he’s hard not to like…or get mad at when he acts stupid (and he does). It’s also impressive how, no matter the trivial nature of some of the scenes, they all work together to reveal a character entirely dedicated to his job.

For example, although there are actually three hate crime-related threads in the book (Lynch’s car getting tagged, Lynch getting hate speech phone calls, and an alleged hate crime at the local candy shop owned by a gay couple) and although Lynch is determined to solve each of these crimes, he does so because they’re crimes more than he feels affronted at the bigotry of others. In other words, rather than making Lynch play the victim or get outraged at the blatant discrimination, he grits his teeth and gets payback. I, for one, found it very entertaining to see his smug satisfaction at letting the guilty know they’ve been caught and they’re going to be held accountable for their crimes.

Much of the narration revolves around watching Lynch interact with the details, people, and situations of the cases. The action is not strictly contained within the police station, either. We see Lynch out in town organizing search parties for Cody, interviewing witnesses, following up on tips. At each of these changes of scene, Lynch absorbs the details like a sponge. Even when he’s in his own home, he’s thinking about work and sometimes the most mundane of home-owner tasks can lead him to a fantastic conclusion regarding a case.

The inclusion of so many side stories feels genuine to the nature of police work. Even though the Cody kidnapping is clearly the main event that defines the beginning and end of this book, there is a constant parade of smaller issues that the Idyll police must face. I like that these slice-of-life bits are included, reminding the reader that actual police work is not always as exciting as it may seem. Lynch has to deal with paperwork and inventories and so on.

My only real gripe is that the follow-up on the Damien-the-medical-examiner love interest seems to fizzle here. This ship seems to have sunk before it got out of the harbor on its maiden voyage…and I was sorely disappointed Gayle gave this the same treatment given to many events in Lynch’s past, which is to tell and not show. Basically, the reader has a couple pages of Lynch recalling how he met up with Damien and then things almost immediately go south—which Lynch blames entirely on Damien. That ship is apparently dead…but I still hold a sliver of hope, if only because Damien still calls Lynch to wish him a Merry Christmas (though Lynch ignores him in favor of a hot federal agent).

Overall, this is a great read. The plot itself is strong enough to carry the whole book, romance totally aside. If you’re a fan of books that focus on the action and characters without belaboring messy love lives, you’ll certainly enjoy this book. Especially if you’re a fan of suspense/crime novels. And if you happen to like your books punched up a little with some between-the-sheets action, there’s a bit of that, too.

camille sig

Comments

  1. This sounds like a book and series that I’d enjoy. Thanks for your review, Camille.

    • This IS a pretty good series! Lynch serving as first-person narrator helps keep the action focused on what’s going on in town, his personal thoughts and occasional struggles. I think it’s got plenty of drama, both between bad guys and good guys and between the LEOs themselves without feeling too jam packed.

  2. I enjoy this for the mystery so I don’t mind that the romance / love interest seems to fizzle. I mean, romance is nice but sometimes I want to read pure mystery fiction with gay protagonist like Joseph Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter books you know? I liked this book better than the previous one. I hope Gayle continues this series!

    • I am ever hopeful this is just an insanely slow burn. Since the first chapter (or there about), I zoomed in on Police Chief/Medical Examiner! I only hope Gayle continues the series so I can find out! And if it never coalesces, Lynch is still compelling in his own right!

  3. I had got a rec on this series from another source and it has sat on my maybe pile a while – think I’ll take a punt next purchase time!

    • Oh, I hope you like it! These books are brimming with police action and colored with just enough outside-the-station scenes to make the characters pop. I love that there’s an entire cast of supporting characters who don:t just chime in when Lynch needs them, but come and go like they’re an actual part of the universe. It’s pitched towards “mature” readers who want to sink their teeth into the story instead of having a romance occupy every moment of the main characters’ lives.

  4. This sounded good so I went to look at the first one and the ebook cost more than the paperback. I don’t think I have ever paid $10 for an ebook that wasn’t a bundle (maybe Dreamspinner has spoilt me). I was kind of shocked. They are both on my wish list and I do get the Penguin newsletters…so I will hope for a sale.

    • Yeah, sometimes it’s hard making room in the budget for books…it always seems like e-books should be cheaper, but I’m assuming the publishers have their reasons.

      Still, I hope you do get a chance to read it. The story is great, and Lynch is a fantastic character. Definitely worth the wait for a sale!

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