Rufus O’Callaghan has eked out a living on the streets of New York City by helping the police put away criminals as a confidential informant. But when Rufus shows up for an arranged meeting and finds his handler dead, his already-uncertain life is thrown into a tailspin. Now someone is trying to kill Rufus too, and he’s determined to find out why.
After leaving the Army under less than desirable circumstances, Sam Auden has drifted from town to town, hitching rides and catching Greyhounds, until he learns that a former Army buddy, now a police detective in New York City, has died by suicide. Sam knows that’s not right, and he immediately sets out to get answers.
As Rufus and Sam work together to learn the truth of their friend’s death, they find themselves entangled in a web of lies, cover-ups, and accelerating danger. And when they witness a suspect killed in cold blood, they realize they’re running out of time.
Title: A Friend in the Dark
Book #: 1
Series: An Auden & O’Callaghan Mystery
Length: 70,000k (novel)
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: Amateur sleuth mystery, romance
Release: September 8, 2020
Okay, I don’t even know where to start!
First, if it is by C.S. Poe, I am reading it. Plus, she got me hooked on a Gregory Ashe newsletter story…so this was without question something I wanted to read. Okay, but there’s a cliffhanger!!!! Dang you, authors!!! I wanted to scream and shout, but understood why, and what it was for, so I have settled in to wait for book 2 (I will be in the corner with my blanket and my pacifier…) lol
These two authors wrote seamlessly together. They created two characters that on the surface, and deep, deep below the surface were hot messes. They both have a lot of shadows in their eyes, but somehow managed to work really well together, as they learned that they might want to do more than just sleuth together.
As they work together to find out what happened to Jake, they move all around NYC, not the glizty, glamour areas, but the underbelly, the places tourists never see, and NYC doesn’t want to show them. These are the places only locals would know about, which is why Sam needed Rufus’s help, just as much as Rufus needed Sam’s help because you have to come out of the dark sometimes to find answers.
If you are looking for a flowery, beach read, this isn’t going to be it. However, if you want some suspense, maybe a little murder and mayhem, with two men who discover that they might need each other for more than just how to navigate New York’s subway system, this might be it. And I know that I will be waiting in line for book 2, because I need to know more about how these guys navigate their way back to each other.
3.75 pieces of eye candy
Gritty NYC is the backdrop for this story. Rufus is a paid police informant. And then at a meet he finds the cop he worked with murdered. Rufus has no one. No family, no friends, and now he lost the one human who cared about him.
Sam knows Jake from their time in the military. Sam is harboring some serious demons from his years at war. But when he hears that his friend has killed himself, he summons the courage to get to NYC to look into it. Because there is no way that Jake offed himself.
Sam and Rufus discover each other trying to come up with answers themselves. They begrudgingly decide to work together.
Both of these guys are rough. They are just broken shells. Rufus is so used to being in the shadows as an informant, he has nothing and no one. You can feel his desperation even though he didn’t show it to anyone. He only knows the ugly underbelly of NYC and sees most people the same way
Sam is also a mess. Some PTSD, anxiety, tremors. He hates crowds and loud and people. But he is willing to deal with it to find out the real story of his friend. The friend who emailed him drunken secrets in the middle of the night.
Sam and Rufus, both so used to working and being alone, actually work really well together. They challenge each other, help each other and never pity each other. The clues they follow are like needles in a haystack, but they do it. One at a time.
Sam makes a move on Rufus as a one off and Rufus declines. When Rufus finally tells Sam why, it just broke me. Ugh these guys. I just wanted to mother both of them.
They make sense of the web of lies using their own smarts, Jake’s drunken emails and a sex worker in the Ramble of Central Park.
I did enjoy the book. There were times when I said to myself, “Ok, enough, move on” because sometimes the descriptions of things were so long and flowery. Like the authors were showing that they can write well. Sometimes less is more.
AND there was a cliffhanger ending. Enough that I definitely want to read book 2.
3.5 Pieces of Eye Candy
Gregory Ashe is a longtime Midwesterner. He has lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, his current home. When not reading and writing (which take up a lot of his time), he is an educator.
C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and two-time EPIC award finalist, and a FAPA award-winning author of gay mystery, romance, and speculative fiction.