dead serious bruce reyes coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Things may be going great between Tristan Everett and his boyfriend, Danny Hayes, but the rest of their life is in chaos. Tristan has a terrible case of the flu that has him out of commission. There is an unprecedented storm that has lasted days and Tristan and Danny’s leaky roof is getting worse. Danny ends up injured in a car accident. And to top it off, Death has just showed up at their door claiming Danny needs to steal some bones to stop the end of the world.

As it turns out, the bones of Dusty’s ghostly bookstore boyfriend, Bruce Reyes, are about to be discovered. Bruce was killed many years ago, but his murder is still unsolved and the unfinished business is keeping him around. If his bones are found, the body identified, and the case solved, Bruce has no reason to stick around the portal he is currently guarding — the portal that is keeping all sorts of nasty things at bay. While Death wants Tristan to steal the bones to stop the discovery, Tristan isn’t willing to ruin Bruce’s chances to find closure. However, he also knows they have to do something to stop the ends of days, which are apparently barreling toward them, as the eclipse coming up in 16 days.

Tristan and Danny can’t help but be overwhelmed; their lives were chaotic even before this latest crisis. But they also know that they need to figure out how to solve this problem. Fortunately, Danny and Tristan are not without skills — or allies. Between Dusty, Bruce, Chan and the other queens, PI Sam, and witch Harrison, they have managed to collect their own family of sorts who are there for them when they need it. Whether it is dealing with the aftermath of a flooded apartment or helping figure out how to seal a portal of death, Tristan and Danny have people behind them. But with the clock ticking on the end of days, they need to figure out what happened to Bruce, how he is linked to the portal, and how to stop all hell being unleashed from the other side.

Dead Serious Case #3: Mr Bruce Reyes is third installment in the Crawshanks Guide to the Recently Departed series by Vawn Cassidy. The series follows an established couple in Tristan and Danny, and this story picks up on some threads dropped at the end of book 2, so I think readers who are familiar with the series will get the most out of this one. Things have been building nicely between Tristan and Danny over the first two books, including Tristan revealing to Danny that he can see ghosts. The guys are happily living together and preparing for a move to a new place. So the romantic front is solid and this story focuses on the external conflict regarding the end of days approaching, along with broadening the relationships in their social circle.

As the story opens, everything is in chaos and it only gets worse when Death shows up. This case gives a twist from the earlier books in that we know Bruce as a side character from previous books and his death is a cold case. Bruce guards the bookstore’s portal between worlds, and if his bones are found and he is released from this plane, the door will be unguarded, unleashing no one quite knows what. It is a nice approach in that we get to see resolution for Bruce on his death and also how it all combines with the bigger picture lore and world building. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of how Bruce died or why exactly he is the one guarding the door, as that is something the group discovers along the way. But it comes together really well, with the two parts of the plot twining together nicely. It also gives Tristan and Danny a chance to each do what they do best in a quest to both solve Bruce’s mysterious death and to figure out how to keep the portal closed and the world safe.

The story also expands Danny and Tristan’s circle even further, really bringing in the supporting cast. Dusty has been an ever-present sidekick, but now Chan has become a major side character as well. We also get to spend more time with Sam (a PI friend of Danny’s) and Harrison (a local witch who helped with the body switching in the last book). This extended friend group forms a nice found family for Danny and Tristan, who both are without much biological family (aside from Tristan’s dad) and pretty isolated aside from each other. The gang gets involved both helping with the case, but also pitching in on the personal front when the guys are in need. So I enjoyed the way these side characters got developed more here. We also get some really nice moments with Dusty and Bruce, as they face their feelings for one another, as well as the prospect of Bruce potentially leaving once his ghostly business is resolved.

I really enjoyed the way this story brought things close to home with Bruce’s case and gave the characters all a chance to really work together. This is a fun series and I am looking forward to more.