Michael MacGregor is a forensic psychologist who has made a career out of helping the police solve crimes. He also has a popular show on the BBC and therefore, he’s pretty high profile. While going through his second divorce, Michael gets a call from an old friend telling him his father, the town vicar, hasn’t been seen in several days. Even though he and his father had a contentious relationship leading Michael to leave the town (and his first lover) behind, he decides to return to see what is going on.
When Michael and a police officer break down the door of the vicarage, they discover his father dead in his favorite chair and assume he’s had a heart attack. When Michael returns the next day, the house is cordoned off and he’s informed it is now a homicide investigation. Turns out, Michael’s father has been strangled, and Michael may be the main suspect.
The situation is already bizarre, but it becomes more interesting when Michael discovers the chief of police, Nathan Quarryman, is the lover he left behind, and let’s just say Nathan isn’t thrilled to see Michael.
I’m going to begin this review by telling you The Slow Road to Hell is, first and foremost, a murder mystery. Yes, the main characters are gay, and they have a history (and hopefully a future), but the romance most definitely takes a back seat to the whodunit. That’s not terribly clear in the blurb, but I suspected it. I like mysteries and cop stories, so I took it anyway, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The book had a bit of a difficult start. It took awhile for Michael to grow on me. In fact, he was a right jerk. Once the story got going, I was a fan all the way. The same goes for Nathan. He still resented Michael, and didn’t seem to eager to accept the olive branch. Both men were broken, and it was obvious they needed to have it out before they could repair themselves and each other.
I loved the mystery. It was well written and very well plotted out. I was impressed with it from beginning to end. In fact, I pride myself on being able to figure out who’s the bad guy, but this time, it came out of left field. Just as I was piecing everything together, an entirely different motive came out of nowhere, and I was blown away. However, I don’t want to be held responsible for ruining this for anyone, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
As I mentioned, the romance takes a backseat to the mystery, but make no mistake, there is a romance. Michael and Nathan were in love when they were young. Nathan was heartbroken when Michael left, but Michael did have his reasons. All of the pain and heartache could have been avoided with one simple conversation, but of course, there wouldn’t have been much of a story then, right? Michael and Nathan’s pathway back to each other was long and it was slow. I’m so happy the author decided to write it this way. It would have felt unnatural if they’d have just hugged it out and picked up where they left off. Instead, they danced around each other. Also, seeing how Michael’s father was murdered, it would have been unseemly if the police chief was cavorting with the victim’s son.
The ending tied up nicely, and was perfectly explained. As I said, I was hit upside my head with the motive, but I was satisfied with everything. There were just enough red herrings, and even a tiny subplot to make The Slow Road to Hell a hell of a ride. I highly recommend this one.