Today’s book review of a crime novella is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
Necessity’s Door by Fiona Glass
Synopsis: Being an openly gay detective in Birmingham comes with its share of problems. For one, the pay is awful. For another, Jake always gets stuck with the crappy undercover jobs. Like posing as a prostitute to catch the new crime boss in town – a man notorious for rough sex with pretty young rentboys.
Jake’s latest op is fraught with difficulties, all of them men. Like his partner, Mac, who he’s secretly fancied for months. And his new client, Graham, who he keeps sleeping with for reasons far beyond maintaining his cover. And of course there’s the target, Frank Warren, who’s much harder to lure than anyone had anticipated.
The longer the op drags on, the tougher it gets for Jake to juggle his own needs with those of the job. They may be closing in on Warren, but Jake’s heart—and his sense of right and wrong—are slipping through his fingers. Mac is there to back him up, but is he really the man Jake needs? Tough to know among all those lies Jake’s been telling himself and everyone else.
This novella is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Necessitys-Door-ebook/dp/B0086KPSBW and http://www.amazon.com/Necessitys-Door-ebook/dp/B0086KPSBW.
Review (of the Kindle’s text-to-speech option)
An intriguing titled novella, the synopsis of which takes the reader comfortably into the story.
This is my first venture into gay fiction (or fact!) but it felt realistic. Regular readers of the genre would be better placed to judge.
The story is easy to follow and readers will be concerned for Jake’s safety, especially when the antagonist features in later scenes.
At the time, Graham suggesting that Jake could be an undercover cop didn’t feel very realistic but thinking about it again, it is feasible, coming from someone nervous of being caught in that situation.
Generally, the writing is good – with no obvious typos – although the phrase ‘Jake’s stomach threatened to come out of his ears’ jarred with me, as did the part about Mac taking the key out in ‘extra slow time’, and Jake being called ‘sweet pea’ became a little annoying but I loved the phrases ‘had a face the shape and texture of an unpeeled potato’, ‘a snub nose a revolver would’ve been proud of’, and one of Frank Warren’s bodyguards as being ‘neckless’.
I liked the ending which could then lead on to a sequel. If so, I would definitely like to see more of Mac (and I confess I preferred him to Jake!).
And now for writers…
- We have to be very careful when choosing our character names. In this novella, one of the characters is called Frank Warren which in real life is a boxing promoter. So it took me a while to forget that it was that person. I would always recommend googling your main characters before settling on their names.
- There were a couple of clichés: ‘dead on his feet’ and ‘good enough to eat’ and where clichés exist as dialogue they are easier to forgive.
- Dialogue should feel natural. Avoid too many full-formed or ‘wooden’-feeling conversations. Read your work aloud. This will help you spot whether it feels realistic or too ‘polite’.
- when we are including include more than one character of the same gender in our writing, we have to be very careful that the relevant he and she refers to the last name mentioned. For example (not taken from this story), with ‘Tony knew that John was lying. He needed to speak to Sheila.’ Technically, the last name mentioned before that he is John so John needed to speak to Sheila. Although the reader will know that it is actually Tony who needs to speak to Sheila, it isn’t 100% clear, so there he should be changed to Tony. There are occasions in this novella where the attribution is unclear.
An interesting story, well told. It was a little slow paced for me (too much Graham before getting to the action of Frank) but enjoyable nonetheless. I didn’t get the relevance of the title or whether Graham was linked to Frank but that could have been because I was listening to it rather than reading it so my ‘bad’ as the (terrible!) saying goes.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition, RONE 2015 Judge, and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.