When his captain hands him a case and a new partner, he also makes Detective Sergeant Doyle McCann aware that if the case isn’t solved, his career with the police will be over. A thousand rumors swirl around McCann, none of them good, and all of them have rendered him a virtual pariah. Even his new partner, Kord Verangen, hates him and he just met the guy.
Both men are given a nearly impossible task — to investigate a set of brutal gay bashings from two years prior. They discover from the start that the case was never investigated well and there are more layers to the evidence than they could have begun to imagine. As they begin to talk to victims and witnesses, Kord and Doyle find themselves in the line of fire. With too many enemies and too few friends, Kord and Doyle must depend on one another if they hope to survive.
Family Bashings is first and foremost a crime drama replete with a bit of action and a closed case mystery that rears to life. There is romance as well, but it almost always takes a back seat to the unfolding mystery and feels secondary to the rest of the plot. The writing is fairly strong and, while not always engaging, the author has established a consistent pacing. The mystery itself is solid and rounds out enough edges to make sense. It just wasn’t very interesting. Rather than engaging, the investigation feels rote. There’s something repetitive to the character actions during the investigation and that becomes boring in a hurry. That said, another reader may find the mystery more intriguing and as I said, it was solid. I just couldn’t get into it.
Kord and Doyle are the primary focus of Family Bashings and while, on some level, we connect with Doyle, I found Kord to be almost impossible to like. Doyle comes off like a decent cop who has taken the fall or is at least hiding the truth about an on the job incident that has left him outcast. In fact, my biggest frustration is that Doyle never defends himself. He lets his fellow officers continually trash and besmirch him. It would have been nice to see him fight back, but you can’t help respect the character for trying to take the high road as well.
Kord was a jerk. I’d use a stronger word if I thought I was allowed. He’s an anti-gay closet case who spends most of the book degrading Doyle and the gay community in general. Given this, it makes Doyle’s attraction to him utterly dumbfounding. Kord’s eventual affection for Doyle comes off as unwilling and unwanted and only eventually accepted. As a result, there was no spark between these two, just sort of an awkward song and dance that never really fulfills.
Family Bashings followed the course of a police procedural with a secondary romance that fails to amount to much. The book may appeal to some, but I found the mystery to be rather boring and the characters, especially Kord, to be aggressive and off putting. For die hard fans of investigation plots, then Family Bashings might be enjoyable, but otherwise I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.