Review Pretty Boy Dead
Update: 3/8/14 Pretty Boy Dead was nominated for the 2014 Lambda Awards. You can read more about that here.
I don’t normally read mystery/suspense novels, but there are times when I make the exception and Jon Michaelsen’s Pretty Boy Dead is one of them. I was not disappointed this time, and I might even go back and re-read this at some point in the future because I think the gay parts in the book deal with issues (for lack of a better word) to which many can relate, especially those who work in certain fields.
The basic premise revolves around murder, a screwed up kid, and a questionable system. Sgt. Kendall Parker is a detective (with the Criminal Investigation Division) who has a few interesting fundamental flaws I thought made him more realistic and intense. The way Michaelsen portrayed him created a sense of drama that added more conflict to the storyline. In other words, he’s interesting and you want to know more about him as you continue to read. The lines below sparked my curiosity.
“Parker stared at the corpse, seeing not the man lying before him, but the haunting image of another. The obsession was never far from his mind, clouding his thoughts and perhaps his judgment.”
I often wonder how much personal detective/crime experience mystery authors like Michaelsen have because this book led me to believe so much came from either excellent research or personal experience. It wasn’t rushed or pushed too fast, which I think would make it more realistic with respect to real criminal investigations of this nature. But it doesn’t stop there because the insights with respect to social issues are also covered in a way that seems to draw closely to personal experience in an overall sense. And when I see this it leads me to believe an author is an astute observer of life and the social/human condition. But more than that, in between all of this there are a few interesting political situations that tend to lean more toward the tawdry side of what happens in the real world. The things most of us don’t know about.
And for someone like me who doesn’t read much mystery/suspense I found the characters and storyline believable. That’s a big thing for me as a reader. I can’t say that’s something I always find in this genre, which is one reason why I don’t read it too often. I didn’t feel as if I was being yanked around and sold a bill of goods with contrived scenes and less credible situations. In this case, I felt at times as if I’d entered a world so unfamiliar to me I wanted to linger a little longer to see what else might transpire. As for more technical aspects, the writing is solid, the book is well executed from cover to edits, and I didn’t find any issues at all with the digital formatting.
If you’re a mystery fan I think you’ll enjoy this, and if you’re not into mystery all that much I think it’s a good way to get into the genre because of the depth of story. It’s not simple and I found several surprises I won’t divulge now. I would have no issues recommending this book to anyone. My only regret is that I took so long to get to it. I’ve had it for a while and just kept putting it off for other things, which was a huge mistake on my part.
You can purchase the book here, at Amazon, in both digital and paperback.
ESPN and Michael Sam
This article is interesting because I’ve been wondering the same thing, but not with ESPN. With other places I’ve seen the Michael Sam disclosure discussed. For those who don’t know, Sam is a football player with University of Missouri and he recently came out to what I think is a huge barrage of coverage considering there are so many other important things happening right now. He’s even trumping the death of Shirley Temple in some places, which is big. But some news/sports outlets seem to have an issue covering his story smoothly. Or, it looks as though some would rather not deal with it.
Even anchors like Robert Flores, who are supposed to be the show’s steadying hands, seemed to have trouble saying the word “gay.” Tortured pauses and jumbled sentences abounded as the men on set reckoned with the notion of homosexuality. If SportsCenter — and ESPN’s television network — are the central hub of sports news, their broadcast on Sunday night was quietly depressing.
On a more positive note, I was watching my local Philadelphia ABC news affiliate the other night and they covered the story of Michael Sam without a hitch or a single misstep. In fact, they actually offered positive commentary which is something they don’t normally do. It was all normal and comfortable.