Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Tristan James
Length: 7 hours, 3 minutes
When a day on the job goes terribly wrong, Detective Kurt O’Donnell’s partner, Ben, is killed. Recovering from his own injuries, Kurt discovers that Ben had been in a relationship and living with another man, Davy. Wanting to make peace with the tragic incident, Kurt offers a grieving Davy his assistance. This helps Kurt come to terms with the fact that he never really knew his partner and his partner never fully trusted him. And, Ben was so closeted that he kept Davy a secret and isolated him from his friends. Spending time with Davy becomes the only place Kurt wants to be and a true friendship begins.
As Kurt becomes attracted to Davy, life becomes increasingly complicated, and has Kurt questioning his sexuality. One night changes everything for Kurt, but neither Kurt nor Davy are fully ready for their encounter and it winds up pushing them further apart. Kurt has to examine his life and face coming out if he truly wants to be with Davy, but life as a cop and his Irish Catholic family have him remaining silent. When he just can’t face a life without Davy, Kurt must take the ultimate risk and expose his true self.
Cop Out is a quiet story with a slow build and an equally slow burn. It is a slow paced read with an overall sweet story that takes its time to develop. Trying to make sense of all he has learned since his partner’s death, Kurt goes to see Ben’s partner Davy. There he finds an isolated man not dealing well and this is where the story truly begins. Davy is grieving and we see signs that his relationship with Ben was extremely controlling, from the lack of any color and personal items in Davy’s home to his lack of friends. As Kurt and Davy become friends, Kurt feels a protective need to take care of Davy, and then struggles when his feelings become something he can’t make sense of.
This is shown primarily as Kurt’s story and it is told solely through his eyes. His inner struggle and subsequent coming out are the primary motivation of what drives the book. At times though, something more from Davy would have really enhanced the story for me. His feelings and actions are a catalyst in Kurt’s progression, but we only get a glimpse of how he truly feels. Also, in the beginning of the story, a lot of time is taken to describe Davy’s state of mind since Ben’s death. We are never given a full disclosure of what their relationship fully was and how Davy ultimately found himself in the situation he is in. Time is devoted to going over Davy’s financial situation and Kurt sorts through papers and sets him up with a lawyer, but then the outcome is not discussed.
There are secondary characters that add to the story as Kurt has a large family and struggles with thoughts of being isolated from his family if he were to come out. Although, Kurt’s occupation as a cop is in the forefront at the beginning of the story, it becomes background for a journey of self discovery.
Tristan James is the narrator for this audio and does an amazing job overall as his narrative tone is smooth and rich. Kurt’s parents are Irish and his Irish accent is well done. The men all have distinct voices, and the pacing and delivery flow well. A lot of the story involves Kurt’s inner dialog and when he is trying to make sense of his physical reactions to Davy, his inflections are real and humorous at times. The only area that did not work as well for me were the female characters. All of the women just had high pitched voices and sounded somewhat Muppet-like. A one point, one female character who is not Irish has a mild Irish accent in one scene and then it disappears. The chapter breaks were clear and brief with the chapter numbers being offered at the start of each one. Being that the story involves a lot of inner dialog, listening to it may have had an effect on how slow the buildup of the story is. In either format though, Cop Out would be a good choice for a character with an inner struggle, sexual tension, and characters going through major life changes.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.