North and Shaw are trying to get back to normal after all the chaos of the Matty Fennmore case. On the plus side, the case helped bring more attention to their private detective agency, which is sorely needed with North still on a suspended license. However, the situation with Matty has also left Shaw quite shaken and even though he is now dating Jadon, he still finds himself having panic attacks whenever they attempt intimacy. And of course, both Shaw and North are still barely admitting to themselves, let alone each other, that they have feelings for one another.
The men are brought a new case by their assistant, Pari, and her girlfriend, Chuck. Chuck works at an LGBTQ teen center and the director, Shep Collins, is missing. Chuck also reveals that before coming to work for the center, Shep was the head of one of the biggest “conversion therapy” centers in the country. She is convinced that he is a changed man and is desperate for Shaw and North to look into his disappearance.
The more the men dig into the case, however, the more things are revealed about Shep’s past, his dealings with the center, and his relationship with his husband. When Shep’s body is found and it turns into murder, the case gets even more complicated. Not only are they learning more about what Shep was really doing, but they also find themselves having regular run ins with the police, who seem to have an unusual interest in the case. And on top of that, there are connections to the West End Slasher case as well.
Even as Shaw and North struggle to figure out who is behind Shep’s murder and try to stay out of the killer’s sights themselves, they also are dealing with their personal relationship. Keeping their feelings hidden from one another is becoming increasingly difficult. Now the men have to figure out if they are ready to open up about how much they care for one another, and if they can stay one step ahead of the killer in the process.
Triangulation is the second book in the Borealis Investigations series and I truly couldn’t put it down. I was blown away after reading Orientation, and I think this one is even better. Gregory Ashe does an amazing job combining a thrilling and twisty mystery with two really well developed characters in Shaw and North. I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see how the investigation would play out, as well as what would happen between the two men. While this one may stand alone from a mystery perspective, I think it is best read after the first book to understand the relationships and the bigger plot arcs.
From the mystery side, I am totally impressed by the way Ashe crafts his stories. Everything layers and builds, threads connect in unexpected ways, and key plot points end up diverging and intersecting all throughout the story. What starts as a simple missing persons case expands over the course of the book, bringing in all kind of twists and turns. I was completely caught up in the mystery and Ashe kept me guessing throughout as to who was behind it all. I also loved how this case ends up connecting with some of the larger series elements. There is clearly some police corruption that is playing into the bigger picture, as well as connections with the Slasher case that aren’t completely clear yet. What I most love is how layered the story is with things all building upon each other in really interesting ways.
The highlight of this series for me is North and Shaw, however. We have known since the first book that these best friends are also totally in love with one another, but aren’t ready to admit it. In this book, we get to know more about their past and what has led them to each believe the other isn’t interested. It is to Ashe’s great credit that the story never feels like it’s in “big miscommunication” territory, despite the fact that many things could be cleared up if the men talked to one another. I could completely understand what was driving both Shaw and North and what was holding them back. And the tension! Oh, the romantic and sexual tension between these guys is just so delicious. I was DYING to know if things would come together for them in this book. And no, I am not going to tell you. But I will say that things make a lot of progress on a variety of fronts and I ended this story very satisfied with where things are between them.
I think part of what makes these guys work so well as a (not quite) couple is how well developed each of them are as individual characters. Again, Ashe is so good at building layers and depth in a way that makes them come to life. In this book we see Shaw struggling in the aftermath of his relationship with Matty. Things are especially traumatic given that Matty was Shaw’s first attempt to date and have sex again after his boyfriend was murdered and when it all went to hell, it took a toll on him. Shaw is dating Jadon in this story and we can see how anytime things get sexual with him, Shaw goes into a panic. North is the only one who can really comfort him or understand why Shaw is lashing out. For his part, North is still dealing with his situation with Tucker and his father and his own pain at watching Shaw date someone else. So both of these men are dealing with a lot, and I love they way they are always a source of strength and support for each other, even when they are bickering and bantering.
So this was another great installment in the Borealis Investigations series. I can highly recommend both books and I am eager to see where things go in the next installment.