Honestly, author Angel Martinez just makes me laugh! Her Offbeat Crimes novellas have got to be the most unique creation of a cast of the most lunatic characters ever assembled in a paranormal series. I want to visit Philadelphia’s 77th precinct just to watch this incredible crew in action. Her second story, The Pill Bugs of Time, gives us much more insight into the ongoing struggle poor Kash has with his growing affection for Kyle. If you have not read the first novella, Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters, I strongly suggest leaving this review until you do. There are definitely some spoilers here if you haven’t already visited this harebrained police force and gotten to know Kash and Kyle.
Picking up where the last book ended, Kash is still struggling with how he feels for Kyle and the potential for it being discovered by both coworkers and everyone else. You see, Kash is bisexual and more than one of his former relationships has gone down in flames primarily because he is so paranoid about coming out of the proverbial closet. It doesn’t help that both his former female and male lovers have misunderstood his bisexuality and have scoffed at him, encouraging him to “commit to one team or the other.” But it’s more than that, for Kash has a profound fear that others will view him differently—perhaps with disgust or mistrust should he make his and Kyle’s affections for each other public.
When the two men are called out on a job to contain what appears to be a stick monster who is going on a rampage, Kash is bitten by what the team later discovers are the young offspring of a giant pill bug-like creature. The venom from the bite throws the affected person either forward or backward in time—trapping them there until the pill bug is removed and the venom cleared from their system. For poor Kash this happens more than once and each time, whether thrown years into the future where one’s sexuality is not even an issue or back to the prehistoric past where sex meant the giving of comfort and ménage or more was common, he begins to see that it is his own time era that has so wrongfully distorted what should be simply a beautiful act of love between two partners—same sex or not. But even though he understands that basic fact, it doesn’t ease his own worries about his relationship with Kyle or the fears he has taking it public. When the final attack happens and Kyle too is struck by the pill bug, Kash must decide—can he be strong enough to declare his love for Kyle or must he give him up entirely before his lack of decisiveness pushes him away for good?
The strength of these stories comes from the incredible comedic timing and humorous dialogue that author Angel Martinez is just superior at writing. While this story focuses on Kash and Kyle, it is the cast of characters around them that are so incredibly well drawn and just so crazy that make her stories so enjoyable to read. This is some of the best paranormal writing out there primarily because it just doesn’t take itself so seriously—it’s fun, lighthearted yet so impeccably crafted that we believe wholeheartedly that a leather jacket can communicate and be put on the precinct payroll as a paid informant—yes, you heard me—a leather jacket. Nothing is too farfetched in this series because everything rings with such zaniness that you can’t help but believe every wild crime spree that springs up. But amongst all this hilarity, there is real tenderness and love between Kash and Kyle—and your heart just breaks as you watch Kash hide in fear of being outed. His longings for Kyle are so real—just as his worry over being exposed and ridiculed wing with truth as well, he is so utterly conflicted—and it makes you love him even more.
As a side note, I’d like to say that I feel author Angel Martinez really compassionately exposes how I fear many bisexuals grapple with both gay and straight views on bisexuality. They are often made to feel their sexuality is a cop out—an unwillingness to make a “choice” and often due to that very wrong and discriminatory thinking are made to feel marginalized in today’s world. It is a disgrace and when you are privy to how Kash feels—you are struck by how raw and condemned many bisexuals feel. I was grateful for the insights she shed through this humorous story—there were some serious and important points brought home despite this being a romantic comedy.
All in all The Pill Bugs of Time by Angel Martinez was just a delightful comedy that has me hoping she continues writing about this merry band of misfits for a long time to come.