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1) Let’s start with the basics. The author has a strong command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This should be a given, but I find it increasingly rare these days, so it was a relief to discover that the book was well-written. The only exception to this is phrases such as “who might try and stop us.” The correct word is “to,” not “and.” One might excuse the main character since he hasn’t even graduated high school, but he speaks flawlessly throughout the rest of the book, so one suspects the error is really the author’s and not the character’s. There were a handful of typos, but only a handful. This is all basic editing, but the book passed the first hurdle with solid writing. The subject matter, unfortunately, is awfully distasteful. A hired thug/killer who befriends and falls in love with another gang member. But the author gives us the “whore with a heart of gold” in this murderer guided by ethical principles. That’s probably the least believable part of the story, but the character is presented realistically, so I went along. I never got a strong feel for the specific city, but the individual scenes in various nightclubs, storage rooms, etc felt real enough. I liked that the main character, Pierce, has a cataract in one of his eyes. It’s an interesting detail that comes up several times in the story. I also like that the love interest, Miles, is mixed race. In most gay mysteries/thrillers, the sex often feels forced, put in to satisfy the reader’s demand for love scenes but totally out of place in the story. That’s not the case here. The sex always feels organic, a natural part of the story. There’s perhaps a bit too much of it, but only a bit. The only time the sex is really a problem is after Pierce learns Miles has been lying to him and as punishment forces Miles to service him. It may not technically be rape, but it’s close enough and makes me dislike Pierce, not something I think the author intended, since liking a murderer is already an uphill climb. Pierce hadn’t been a total creep before—the reader doesn’t even mind watching him kill Malloy—but now he comes across as a total douchebag. Fortunately, his later actions redeem him yet again. Spoiler alert here so stop reading if you need to. One wonders why Pierce is so slow to suspect the family member who is sabotaging the Vice organization. I think the reader suspects it a hundred pages before the main character does. But the final confrontation and conclusion are satisfying regardless. The last couple of lines are a bit too sappy, given the nature of the characters, but all in all, the book was a compelling and satisfying read.
2) The writing in this story was absolutely spectacular. Gritty, dark, grim - and just as it should have been. A story depicting a mob hit man wouldn't have been done right any other way.  I expected violence and death, and that's exactly what the author delivered. I was surprised to see that there was also an M/M Romance in this as well, and it was executed brilliantly. The relationship started off as tenuous and seedy as the rest of the world building was.  Mob crime isn't my type of reading, but the way the author ushered me into her world, the more I appreciated the 'gumshoe' aspects of it all. Exceptionally well done.

Vice City S.A. Stovall
Gay - Mystery / Thriller
Series: Vice City (Book 1)
Paperback: 234 pages
Publisher: DSP Publications (June 20, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1635336635
ISBN-13: 978-1635336634
Amazon: Vice City S.A. Stovall

Vice City: Book One

After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second-guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother any way he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.

Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life. Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup… and he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son, who treats his underlings like playthings.

So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he leaves the Vice family in the middle of a turf war.

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