Book: Murder Once Seen
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication date: December 10, 2016
Length: 268 pages
Reviewed By Meredith
In the city of Nis, things often aren’t what they seem.
Derwin is a bounty hunter gifted with the Oddity of superhuman strength and agility—perfect for hunting down fugitives and demons who roam the streets. One killed his boyfriend two years ago, and Derwin won’t stop until he finds out who. Police suspect it was someone he sent to prison, but he can’t shake the idea that they’re missing something.
Elliot is a rentboy who’s been living on the streets since his parents disowned him. He mistrusts everyone and, given his uncontrolled ability to Read Objects and a client list that includes a major gang boss, despairs of ever having a normal life.
Derwin and Elliot meet in a storm of lust. Derwin’s Oddity is fed by the pain of others, but he only wants what’s freely given. Elliot loves pain, but needs safety and a way off the streets before he can allow it. They may be able to solve each other’s problems . . . if they can survive long enough to work together.
My Top Ten Literary Influences
I hear this question a lot as a writer—which writers have been the most influential in shaping me as a writer, both in the types of stories that I write, and also the writing style? So here’s my top ten list, in no particular order:
1. Stephen King
This is a more recent influence; growing up, I didn’t read horror because I came from a fairly religious family. We were even restricted on what movies we got to see—no Jaws, Friday the 13th, or Carrie at my house. But now he’s one of my favorite writers because I love his voice, his suspenseful plotlines (even though he can be long-winded at times), and the creepy, otherworldly feel of his books. I’ve also read his book On Writing and agree with his sentiment about adverbs, and telling the truth. One of my favorite books ever was The Stand.
2. J.R.R. Tolkien
Another long-winded author, but probably my favorite overall if I had to pick one. I love Tolkien for his world-building and his characters which live on in memory long after him. Should I be embarrassed to admit that I’ve read Lord of the Rings over 15 times? No really. All three of the books, that many times. I read them the very first time when I was nine years old, and for many years after that, my English teachers had to remind me that in America it’s “gray” not “grey.” I still like “grey.” And I still love his flowing, descriptive style.
3. Mercedes Lackey
The Last Herald Mage series were the first books I ever read with a main character who was gay, and a gay romance arc. I was nineteen when I read the first book, and when I realized the hero was gay, I actually threw the book across the room. (Now I know it’s because I was heavily in denial about my own bisexuality. Live and learn.) I quickly picked it back up again, however, and the series became one of my all-time favorites. I love that she was bold in her choice of themes and that she offered fresh viewpoints for fantasy readers.
4. Johanna Lindsey
I had to get some romance in here some time, right? Lindsey was my first and my favorite romance writer, back in the 90’s. Yes, her explicit sex and lustful style were fun, but I particularly liked her science fiction themed romance, like Warrior’s Woman. I also read the historical ones like Prisoner of My Desire and The Feuding. I studied her beats to get an idea of how to write romances.
5. Janet Evanovich
A friend recommended her to me, and I found her Stacy Plum mystery series both hilarious and exciting. Yes, her character is one of the reasons that I chose to have Derwin Bryant be a bounty hunter. I’d like to think he’s a much better one, however.
6. Madeleine L’Engle
She was my favorite author alongside Tolkien from the time I was nine years old, starting with her YA science fiction novel, A Wrinkle in Time. I liked her blending of reality, science, religion, and just overall weirdness.
7. Adrienne Wilder
So here I finally come to a gay romance writer. I first read Wilder’s sci-fi/paranormal mmromance, Seven, and decided that I’d found my favorite writer in this particular genre. Wilder likes to delve into the deeper sub consciousness of his characters, and their painful emotional struggles. Plus, there tend to be paranormal elements and/or suspense plots with many of Wilder’s novels.
8. Rhys Ford
Of the many mmromance writers whose books I enjoy, I have to credit Rhys as one of the authors I most enjoy, and again, one who has influenced my own writing. Rhys’s greatest strengths are the details she includes to bring her settings (mainly southern California) and characters (many with Asian backgrounds) to life. I also love her snarky style and her quick-paced suspense.
9. J.A. Konrath
The guru of indie publishing, and also a master crafter of thrillers and mysteries. I’ve been enjoying his Jack Daniels novels and the way he REALLY knows how to keep the pages turning. Plus he makes me shudder in horror at the downright nasty stuff he does to his characters.
10. J.K. Rowling
Had to get her in here somewhere. I mean, a divorced mother who worked on her books during her breaks and then came up with something as awesome as Harry Potter? Yes, I’ll take that dream. (And I resemble that writing process, divorce and all.) I also love how she planned out the entire series, going as far as to intricately tie together the smallest details from book to book. I’m awed by her planning and attention to each character’s arc. (However, I still wanted to see more of the aftermath after Voldemort’s defeat in the last book. That was a bit of a cop-out.) Finally, she wrote great, memorable characters.
Murder Once Seen is a mystery with a paranormal element. Derwin is a Bounty Hunter with special abilities. In this story, in this time, he’s called an Oddity. Anyone who has a special ability other than just being a human is an oddity. When Derwin meets Elliot, a rentboy and also an oddity, so much happens.
My heart was all sorts of sore for Derwin. You know right off the bat he’s grieving the loss of his boyfriend Grady who was murdered. We spend the entirety of the book tracking down who killed Grady two years prior. With Elliot’s help they are able to solve it.
We also have the element of Elliot and his issues. A gang boss who sees him as his property and a madam who cares, but not enough for Elliot’s well being. So they have two fights happening through this story.
Now, this is book one of a series and there is absolutely closure to this book, but we are also left with a bit of a mystery. I have no doubt it will be one of those mysteries that will grow and grow and then blow!
I wasn’t completely shocked by who the guilty party was and though it was entertaining, getting there was a little anticlimactic.
This is an exciting story and there was good suspense happening, especially toward the end. It dragged only slightly in the middle but picked right back up. I wasn’t at all bored and it will keep you turning the page for more.
About J.T. Hall
J.T. Hall has been writing for many years under this name and others, and has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and online books. She earned her BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, her master’s in education from Argosy University, and works as an independent technical writer for state and federal programs. In her free time, she volunteers for the LGBT community and is active in the leather scene. She has a teenage daughter and a partner of over ten years. They live in sunny Arizona with three adorably cute dogs, three black cats, and a hamster who loves peanuts.
Connect with J.T.:
- Blog: jthallwriting.wordpress.com
- Twitter: @JTHall7
- Tumblr: www.tumblr.com/blog/jthallwriting
To celebrate the release of Murder Once Seen, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!