A top-notch, deliciously readable mystery…
Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and an intelligent plot make VanPatten’s latest in the A Will Christian Mystery series a winner for mystery fans. Retired at forty-nine, Will Christian, a self-identified Latino and gay man, is content living a life of leisure in the quaint town of Mañana in Central California. When during a routine bicycle ride, Will stumbles across the body of a young Latino, gay man, he begins to look into the case against his better judgement. More murders follow. With the victims all Latino and gay, Will knows something sinister is at work. With the help of his new boyfriend, José Torres, Will sets on to track down the killer, unaware of the danger awaiting him ahead. The mystery is meticulously constructed, revealing hard truths about the hidden workings of the psychopathic minds. VanPatten skillfully cranks up the sense of dread and the suspense while smoothly shuffling between the third-person narrative and the antagonist’s first-person voice. Will’s self-assurance and curiosity provide a welcome fulcrum between the extraordinary dark mystery and deep character study. Laura is immensely appealing: she is straightforward and tough, and her bond with Will, which stays at the center of the story, is heartening. José is a complete darling, and readers will savor his budding relationship with Will. Although the central mystery surrounding the murders is dark, VanPatten manages to keep the book’s tone light, with a sense of community and belongingness at play. Readers will be impressed by the range and weight of his skilled plotting. There is plenty of local color, with the small-town culture steeped in race and class disparity, LGBTQ stigma, and sense of community and solidarity. The narrative is measured, and the action never lets up. Will’s urgency becomes the reader’s as he gets entangled in the hate-motivated serial killings. VanPatten adeptly scatters clues and complications, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat until the last piece falls in place. The final twists are breathless and the ending thoroughly satisfactory. Along the way, VanPatten skillfully weaves in poignant observations on family, sibling bond, friendship, love, passion, deception, and the nature of justice. Finely constructed and gripping, this story of deception, murder, personal prejudices, and the search for truth is both a compelling character study and an engrossing mystery. Fans of both gay and the cozy mystery genre will find common ground in this twisted tale of love, murder, and intrigue.
Looks Are Deceiving: A Will Christian Mystery
By Bill VanPatten
Pub date July 8, 2021
Price $13.99 (USD) Paperback, $7.92 Kindle edition