The Mystery of Nevermore, by C.S. Poe
Series: Snow & Winter, Book 1
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.
He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim.
In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive and live happily ever after with Calvin.
In the Closet
Love at First Sight
It seems that the author, C.S. Poe, and myself have something in common: we both revere the wonderful Josh Lanyon. And since this is a mystery/romance novel, comparisons between the two authors are inevitable. Especially when this book reads as an homage to Lanyon’s Adrien English series. Both books feature a slightly bookish MC (Lanyon’s Adrien and Poe’s Sebastian) who both fall for the closeted cop investigating a case they are involved in (Lanyon’s Jake and Poe’s Calvin). Both of the MC’s also have a physical impairment of some sort (Adrien’s weak heart and Sebastian’s weak eyesight) and both have a strong relationship with one of their parents (Adrien with his mom and Sebastian with his dad). But Poe still manages to put her own spin on things by creating a decent mystery involving a rare manuscript by Edgar Allan Poe and a killer who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a copy.
Now, I do have to be upfront and say that you might want to have some wine with this novel because there is a fair amount of cheese. I mean, you’ve got antique dealer Sebastian SNOW falling for cop Calvin WINTER in the middle of a freakin NY snowstorm for crying out loud. And the insta-love trope is overdone and kind of annoying yet somehow impossibly endearing, despite Calvin’s use of of a particular pet name that should ONLY be used by Lanyon’s Jake Riordan (seriously Josh, can you ™ that ASAP please?). And yet – and yet – I still liked it, fromage and all. Maybe it was the riffing on Adrien English, a series I loved, and maybe it was how adorable Sebastian Snow was, and maybe (probably) it was his very sweet relationship with his dad, William. Or maybe it was a combination of all those things because somehow this worked for me.
Okay, the mystery wasn’t particularly hard to solve, but I still enjoyed the journey from the first incident to the big reveal. I thought the Edgar Allan Poe connection was pretty inspired even if the eventual murderer did come off as more of a wacknut than his literary referenced crimes would have suggested (I thought he’d be more of a refined killer but maybe the literary references biased me unduly). We also get to meet some interesting side characters like the aforementioned William, plus Sebastian’s employee, Max. More importantly, we get to know a little about Neil Millett, Sebastian’s soon to be ex-boyfriend of four years. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Neil yet, but I hope he doesn’t turn into some vindictive bastard in future books. He may be a bit selfish but he does come to Sebastian’s aid when requested, albeit reluctantly, and he is quite remorseful in the end.
Non-spoiler alert: if cheating bothers you, you might want to skip this entirely. Sebastian doesn’t really break up with Neil before he sleeps with Calvin, although it’s pretty clear they are on the outs when it happens. Some people might be bothered by this and that’s fine but it doesn’t feel like much of a betrayal given Neil’s behaviour beforehand. Just a small heads up.
All in all, I feel this is a pretty good start to a new series and I’m looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for Sebastian and Calvin next. I hope she manages to make future books less like AE and more like her own, which I am confident she is completely capable of doing.
C.S. Poe is an author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books. She believes that happily ever after is an attainable goal for any character, given enough elbow grease and legwork is provided.
C.S. lives in New York City, but has called a host of different locations home in the past, most recently being Ibaraki, Japan. She regrets no longer having easy access to limited edition candy, capsule toy machines, and clean trains, but over ten years in New York has proved to her there is no place quite like it.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats, in no particular order. She’s rescued three cats, including one found in a drain pipe in Japan who flew back to the States with her. Zak, Milo, and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
Find her online at http://www.cspoe.com/
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.