James is a young detective and his star is on the rise. Everyone realizes he has good instincts and should go far. James is from a very rich family, but he’s left those circles to make it on his own. Now, he’s got a good job, but he’s lonely, and he’s not doing so well financially. James needs a roommate to share expenses with, and he’s on the lookout.
When a female barrister is murdered, James is assigned the case. It’s a big one with all sorts of political intrigue and wealthy family ties. Through his investigation, he’s led to a building where it just so happens that a young photographer is looking for a roommate. James asks his superiors if it would be ok for him to apply. They agree, and he moves in.
Ben is that photographer. He’s handsome, charismatic, and very popular with men. He lives a fast lifestyle full of pubs, alcohol, and one night stands. There is chemistry between him and James right away, and soon they begin a sexual relationship. Things become quite complicated, however, and James finds himself compromising his morals to keep Ben in his life.
Meanwhile, more murders are taking place and they’re all connected to the first. James is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and he wonders if he has it in him to bring justice to these victims.
I’d like to start by saying Bitter Legacy is a GOOD book. It’s beautifully written with extraordinary attention to detail. The plot is well thought out, and the mystery is engaging and interesting. I was very caught up in it, and all of my guesses as to whodunnit were wrong. This really impressed me because I ALWAYS figure it out before the big reveal.
The characters are completely fleshed out. I was able to feel as if I knew them all personally (even the background ones). I loved James so much. He had so much going on in his professional and personal life. He was nearly paralyzed by it, but he kept right on going. Ben? Um…well…I thought Ben was great until he pretty much crushed James. Then, I despised him with as much passion as I loved James. There was so much sexual tension between James and Ben. James found himself falling for Ben even though Ben brought home a different man nearly every night. Ben wasn’t shy about it either, parading them in front of James, or putting that red sock on his doorknob directly across the hall from James’s room. One night, they finally give in to their feelings and have passionate sex. James is so happy, and for a while everything seems good. Then, one night at a pub, Ben begins making out , and then goes to the restroom for a BJ with another man. RIGHT IN FRONT OF JAMES. I was angry and disgusted. I had to put the Kindle down and just walk away. I was actually shouting and crying. When I picked it up again, Ben proceeded to break James’s heart by telling him they weren’t exclusive, and he was sorry he got the wrong impression. He was going to keep screwing around no matter what. James is devastated, but he decides having SOME of Ben is better than none of Ben, so he agrees to an “open relationship.” Basically, friends with benefits. I admit I had to continue putting the Kindle down and leaving it several times. I felt Ben was cruel, and he kept getting worse as the time went on…lots more drinking, doing drugs, and more men, sometimes two at a time. He did all this while James was around and acted put out when James got upset. I was so pissed, my muscles kept locking.
All the while, the murders continued, and a complicated case becomes more complicated. I must repeat how fantastic it was. Dal Maclean has written an amazing mystery. As it unraveled, I was surprised and impresed. When it all came down to the wire and was solved, I was very satisfied.
I’m not quite sure how I felt about the ending. I don’t want to give it all away. Let me just say I wasn’t disappointed, but I was a little…and I don’t know if this is the right word, but…uneasy? It seemed I got what I wanted, but I can’t decided if what I wanted was the right thing. I’ll leave it up to you all to come to your own conclusions.
I am going to recommend Bitter Legacy. If you’re looking for hearts and flowers romance, you’re not going to get it. If you’re looking for a thoughtfully written, intense STORY, this is for you. Excellent first novel by an author.