Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
After turning 18 and moving to San Diego to live with his dad, Danny Shay is determined that this is the summer he will come out and lose his virginity. But after losing his temper at his thieving boss, Danny got arrested for destroying property and now faces six weeks of house arrest, complete with ankle monitor. To make things even worse, he is stuck in a leg cast due to slipping in the ice from the ice machine he upended and the thing is bulky and itchy as hell.
When Danny’s dad has to leave for a business trip, Danny must stay alone for three weeks. His father warns him to keep his head down and stay out of trouble so the police and judge don’t realize he is home alone. And at first Danny thinks it will be fun, until boredom at being stuck on his property all alone quickly sets in. Danny distracts himself by watching out his windows at night at the goings on in the neighborhood and is delighted when he sees a gorgeous young guy about his age pull up with a moving truck at the house next door.
Danny and his new neighbor Luke Jamison hit it off right away and it isn’t long before things heat up between the young men. With Danny’s father gone and Danny stuck in the house, Luke basically moves in with him while he waits for his own father’s arrival in a few weeks. The guys are a perfect match for one another and soon become intimate and fall in love.
Everything seems perfect, except for the news stories of a serial killer on the loose kidnapping young men. When two young boys in the neighborhood tell the guys they think one of the neighbors is the killer, at first Danny and Luke don’t believe it. But when they start hearing strange noises and suspicious goings on, they become more and more convinced the killer is living nearby. And soon it becomes clear that not only is there another victim, but that both Danny and Luke have made it into the killer’s sights. With their fathers gone and the police uninvolved, will they be able to stop the madman before he kills again?
So when I picked this up, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Inman’s Poodle Apocolypse was light, frothy, and funny. And the classic movie Rear Window, the story on which this book is presumably based, is an intense thriller. So I wasn’t quite sure how those two very different styles would meld into one book. But Inman succeeds in pairing them wonderfully here, along with a perfect dose of young love romance.
First off, Inman captures his 18-year-old heroes just perfectly. They are right there on the cusp of teenagers and men, and Inman gives them that perfect balance. On one hand, they are impulsive and occasionally irrational, have erections about 90% of the time, and eat everything in sight (I loved Danny eating his Cap’n Crunch out of a huge bowl with a serving spoon). And they are so achingly and sweetly in love. The fall hard and they fall fast and they just know theirs is the love of the ages. Inman just gets that intensity so perfectly. Yes, Luke and Danny fall in love awfully quickly, but it totally makes sense given all their earnest passion. The details here are wonderful and these guys just feel exactly their age. Young love at its finest.
The story also blends the humor with the suspense so well. There is a lightness and a sense of bemusement that sort of underlies all the narration. Like you can’t help but smile at these guys even as you know they are not always making the best choices. I had several laugh out loud moments and thoroughly enjoyed Danny and Luke. At the same time, the story slowly builds the suspense until I could barely put the book down. The first half of the story is almost exclusively focused on Danny and Luke’s building relationship. Then slowly we start getting signs that more is going on — a scary news report, unexplained noises, suspicious happenings around the neighborhood. And before we know it, Luke and Danny are embroiled in a full on thriller as they fight for their own lives and those of the latest victim. It is hard combination to get these two very different tones to blend well and Inman does it very successfully.
So as I mentioned, this story is presumably based on the movie Rear Window, a classic that has been remade many times and with which most of us are familiar. (There are also some similarities to the more recent movie Disturbia, also based on Rear Window.) With a book that is based on a familiar story, you run the risk of predictability in that the reader already knows the basics of what will happen. So it is always interesting to see if the author can keep things fresh and exciting, and again, I think Inman succeeds very well here. There is enough of a connection to the original to give us a sense of knowing where things are going, but still plenty of twists and turns to keep the story unique and creative.
I only really had a few small quibbles here, mostly with the set up being a little too contrived. First, in addition to house arrest, the judge also forbids Danny from using the phone to call out. So somehow this is blocked on his home phone. But really, they require Danny’s father, who shares his home, to have no house phone? And Danny’s dad is fine with leaving his son alone for three weeks with no way to make an outgoing call in case of emergency? And let’s not even get me started on the fact that apparently neither Luke nor Danny have cell phones, which seems absurdly unlikely given their age and economic status. I also think that while I get that Danny doesn’t want to involve the police for fear of getting his dad and himself in trouble, as things escalate it seems insane that calling the cops for help is not the lesser of two evils. Again, these are irrational young men and they don’t always think things through very well. And honestly, you sort of have to accept the police not being involved for the rest of the plot to work. So I get that, it just seemed like a lot of suspension of disbelief. And finally, though I found the ending very sweet and romantic, I hard a hard time totally believing how it all works out given their age and the situation they are in.
Overall I found this one just delightful. Such a perfect young love story and I could just feel the intensity and the yearning (and the thrill of orgasms) as they have their first real experiences with love and sex. And Inman marries it just perfectly with the suspense and the humor. I really loved this one and highly recommend it.
Cover Review: This one is just fabulous. You all know I adore Paul Richmond’s work and this one is perfect for the story. It captures Danny complete with his cast, ankle monitor, and ever present binoculars. Just gorgeous.