Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes up in a stranger’s bed alone, half-naked and sporting one hell of a shiner. Then the police come knocking on the door. It seems that Latino dancer Camilo Rodriguez has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What happened the night before? And where is Camilo?
Determined to find answers, Hayden seeks out two of Camilo’s friends–Hollister and Burley–both lesbians and both fiercely devoted to their friend. From them, Hayden learns that Camilo is a “Dreamer” whose parents had been deported years earlier, and whose sister, Daniela, is presumed to have returned to Venezuela with them. Convinced that the cops won’t take a brown boy’s disappearance seriously, the girls join Hayden’s hunt for Camilo.
The first clues turn up at Barkingham Palace, a pet store where Camilo had taken a part-time job. The store’s owner, Della Rupert, claims ignorance, but Hayden knows something is up. And then there’s Camilo’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who’s suddenly grown inexplicably wealthy. When Hayden and Hollister follow Ryan to a secure airport warehouse, they make a shocking connection between him and Della–and uncover the twisted scheme that’s made both of them rich.
The trail of clues leads them to the grounds of a magnificent estate on an island in Puget Sound, where they’ll finally learn the truth about Camilo’s disappearance–and the fate of his family.
Thoughts and Themes: When I was given the chance to read this book I decided I had to read it because I love LGBTQ+ books and this one has a mystery component to it. From the start of this book, I love that it opens with the main plot of the story and doesn’t take long to delve right into the story. I also really enjoyed that each of the chapters vary in length but they are all short and quick.
Something else that I really enjoyed about the book was the balance between dialogue and narration. I like that the majority of this story is told through dialogue between all of our characters and rarely is there narration. I also like that the story doesn’t spend a lot of time in Hayden’s head as things are playing out.
Something else that I liked about this book was how it pointed out why Camillo wouldn’t be the police’s first priority. I liked how it jsut got even more layered as we learn more about Camillo and why his friends believe that the police aren’t really searching for him.
Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Hayden. You get to meet some of the people who work at the club where Camillo was employed, his best friends, Hollister, and more.
I really liked the friendship that develops between Hayden and Hollister as they are looking for Camillo. I liked the dialogue that occurs between them and how funny moments are slipped in seamlessly.
Writing Style: This book is written in first person through the perspective of our main character, Hayden. Something that I really enjoyed about Hayden telling the story is that he is just as knowledgeable about Camillo as we are. I like that Hayden doesn’t know much and he finds out things as he interacts with the different people that run in Camillo’s circle.
This book also includes snippets from Hayden’s blog which is something that I really enjoyed. I like how we get to learn pieces about Hayden and his feelings about several different topics through these blog pieces. I also like that the blog allows for a different voice than what we get throughout the rest of the story.
Rob’s debut mystery DEVIL’S CHEW TOY is the first book in the Hayden & Friends Series–traditional mysteries featuring a rainbow cast of amateur sleuths.
Rob’s debut mystery short story, ANALOGUE, published in 2021 in ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE won the Mystery Writers of America 2022 Robert L Fish Award for best debut short story by an American Author.
After many years of living in Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco, he resides in southern California with his long-time partner and a tall, gray cat. Discover more at www.robosler.com