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James Lear – The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery (audio edition)

The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery - James Lear

Reviewed by: Asabat


Narrator: Charles Carr

Audio Length: seven hours and thirty-two minutes


Summary:  Once a major in the U.S. Army, Dan Stagg fell afoul of Don't Ask Don't Tell. In his late 30s, tall, and muscular, Dan is prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. He's offered a great deal of money to protect the young male "secretary" of a powerful real estate broker. The vain, shallow - but most of all hot - young man's idea of protection includes sex. Dan quickly realizes something strange is going on: he's being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and must choose between easy money and sex or the ideals that he embodied in the Army. Why should he do the right thing - particularly when the army betrayed him? The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery as only James Lear can write it: filled with lots of gay sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence, and conspiracy.


Review:  Killing is easy. Love is...The Hardest Thing


I believe I’ve mentioned something about never reading a bad, or even mediocre novel from Cleis Press. After listening to The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery, I added James Lear to my list of favorite M/M authors. Lear seamlessly rolled mystery, violence, romance, erotica and love into a single, compelling novel; all done exceptionally well.


Ex-Major Dan Stagg is booted out of the Army after confessing to a relationship with an Army Corporal under his command. Returning to civilian life after twelve years in the military, he lands a job as the bouncer at a not-so-Tony club in NYC. In performing his duties and following the city’s fire codes, Stagg refuses admission to a smart-assed young man and his gum-cracking GF; an altercation ensues. Dan is fired, and his story hits the NYC press. What’s a twice-fired late-thirties boy to do under such circumstances? Stagg gets half-drunk, gets hit-on by a young, married Wall Street broker—Stagg bonks him all night. The young man is gone before Dan Stagg wakes. Whether out of sympathy, or for Stagg’s “services,” the Wall Street boy leaves forty dollars on the hotel nightstand. Mightily annoyed and insulted, but flat-assed broke, Stagg pockets the cash.


After the newspaper article appears in print, Dan is approached by a tall, gorgeous, well-dressed mobster with a job offer: drive the boss’ “secretary” out of NYC to New Hampshire for safekeeping.


Of course, all is not as it appears. Dan knows it’s one of those deals that sounds too good to be true, but he needs the money. At this point I’ll stop to avoid spoilers.


James Lear’s main character is handsome, tough, built, with hidden talents (WINK). Stagg is like a mink when it comes to random sex, and don’t worry baby, every love scene is explicitly red-hot. If you’re one of those readers not into gay erotica, you might want to pass on this one. Charles Carr does his usual fabulous oral interpretations and flawless shifts in voice pitch, tones and timbres, which greatly enhance the writing. When it comes to magnificently creating the resonances of either butch or slightly effeminate, or female characters, Charles Carr is THE man.


I would not call James Lear a “Lee Child” as the publisher appears to state in the summary. James Lear has a writing talent all his own; and try to find M/M love scenes in anything by Lee child. Nuh-uh. There’s barely hetero sex in his novels, and what is there will be waaaay vanilla and flat-out bland; you know, let’s get naked, kiss, close the bedroom door…followed by, “Later, as they lay in the golden afterglow”…ho-hum.


The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery is highly recommended listening/reading.


To See this review or other reviews by Asabat: http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=24256