Book Review | “Idyll Fears” (Book Two: of the Thomas Lynch Novels) by Stephanie Gayle

Posted Friday, 4 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of “Idyll Fears” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. The copy of “Idyll Threats” I borrowed via interlibrary loan through my local library I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

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On why I thought I’d enjoy this series and how I approached starting to read it:

As this is a series in progress, I wanted to seek out the first novel in the series Idyll Threats – seemingly easy at first, as it was simply a matter of queuing into my ILL-cat (ie. Interlibrary loan catalogue) to fetch a copy and then awaiting the book to arrive. However, the trouble ensued shortly after it was borrowed as for whichever reason, the copy I had been sent by the lending library not only smelt oddly but it was difficult to read – the ordour and the condition of the pages were quite horrid – I could barely handle reading a few passages, so I skipped around a bit in the opening chapters, trying to ascertain an instinct of insight into the lead character: Thomas Lynch before returning it to the library with a critical complaint on its condition.

What I gathered in my short readings was a man who reminded me of Jesse Stone but without the warm sympathetic personality; Lynch was hardened, not just due to life but due to the fact he was living within a region where there is staunch prejudice towards different lifestyles – as he’s an openly gay police chief, you can well imagine the difficulties he faces on the job and in his down-time.

I was a bit concerned with the undertone of the series, as at first reading, I noticed the series is ‘clipped and short’ in both temper and style. It’s hard to put it into words, but this had a decidedly ‘different’ approach to telling a police procedural story. In many regards, I was aching for Jesse Stone to walk into scene as Lynch himself is hard to approach – his personality is edgy at best but it’s his dedication to the job and to the citizens he’s protecting which does (sort of) win you over. I say this as even before I picked up Idyll Fears, I had a keen suspicion what I forethought about the series was ill-placed, as this could soon become a DNF for me instead. Still. Despite the false-starts, I kept trying to begin reading it – to see if I could gleam insight into who Lynch is and to gather a better feel for how Gayle plots us through his life.

In essence, wherein I warmed immediately to Marjorie Trumaine, Anna Blanc, Hiro Hattori and even Samuel Craddock – the four investigators I love most from Seventh Street Books authors, Lynch unfortunately was a hard person to feel inclined to know more about simply because I found the series more than a bit off-putting by how it was told and developed. It had nothing to do with Lynch being openly gay either – as I regularly read LGBTQ+ stories wherein there are many lead characters who are gay or lesbian including my beloved sleuthing series spearheaded by the lovely Willa Cather and Edith Lewis. No, it has to do with tone, delivery and the undercurrents of how this series is set to life – it just didn’t jazz well with me to be honest.

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Book Review | “Idyll Fears” (Book Two: of the Thomas Lynch Novels) by Stephanie GayleIdyll Fears
Subtitle: A Thomas Lynch Novel
by Stephanie Gayle
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL), Direct from Publisher

Police Chief Thomas Lynch investigates the disappearance of a six-year-old boy with a serious medical condition while coping with disrespect from townspeople and colleagues who don’t like the fact that he’s gay.

It’s two weeks before Christmas 1997, and Chief Thomas Lynch faces a crisis when Cody Forrand, a six-year-old with a life-threatening medical condition, goes missing during a blizzard. The confusing case shines a national spotlight on the small, sleepy town of Idyll, Connecticut, where small-time crime is already on the rise and the police seem to be making mistakes left and right. Further complicating matters, Lynch, still new to town, finds himself the target of prank calls and hate speech that he worries is the work of a colleague, someone struggling to accept working with a gay chief of police.

With time ticking away, Lynch is beginning to doubt whether he’ll be able to bring Cody home safely…and whether Idyll could ever really be home.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633883574

Genres: Crime Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction, Police Procedural


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 5th September, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 320

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Stephanie Gayle

Stephanie Gayle Photo Credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta

Stephanie Gayle is the author of Idyll Threats, the first Thomas Lynch Novel, and My Summer of Southern Discomfort, which was chosen as one of Redbook’s Top Ten Summer Reads and was a Book Sense monthly pick. Gayle has also published stories and narrative nonfiction pieces, including two Pushcart Prize nominees.

Photo Credit: Sayamindu Dasgupta

The Thomas Lynch Novels:

Series Overview: A gay police chief in small-town Connecticut must deal with close-minded attitudes and threats to his career while he investigates serious crime.

Idyll Threats by Stephanie GayleIdyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll Threats | Book One | Synopsis

Idyll Fears | Book Two

Idyll Hands | Book Three | Synopsis ← forthcoming release September, 2018!

Converse via: #ThomasLynch + #Mysteries

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my review of idyll fears:

Most novels I can gather a sense about within the first page of opening the story yet when it comes to the Thomas Lynch novels I find myself having difficulty feeling rooted into the narrative. As the style of approach is more bluntly tempered to revealling details in a manner of disclosure which doesn’t make you feel comforted by the cold openings of the scenes. I think that is actually the best way to describe it – the series feels deceptively cold to me, almost as if the lifeblood and heart is beating in an opposite rotation to other Crime Dramas which seek to root you into the characters’ lives rather than feeling abstractly disconnected such as I find myself feeling when I pick up a Thomas Lynch novel.

The clipped narrative was a hard to get invested in as I’m used to a different approach in how stories are told than the preferred sequencing of this series – the focus is generally on the hard edge lens of real-life situations which in of themselves are desperately heart-wrecking – such as the missing child who is at the centre of this installment. The bleakness of the narrative itself and the coldness emanating from the pages is just hard to process.

One thing that is hard to reconcile about the context and content of the Thomas Lynch novels is how disheartening it is to read a novel where so many of the secondary characters or walk-ons/walk-throughs are anti-LGBTQ+ with intolerant views and opinions. The reason that’s a hard read for me is because I’ve been accepting of all persons and lifestyles since I was a young girl. I’ve grown up knowing many LGBTQ+ couples and persons, to where it is hard to read a novel which brings out the worst in prejudicial oppression of a group of people who are constantly fighting for Equality and Civil Rights. It was observing this, I recognised I might be the wrong reader for this series – but as this series is focused on spotlighting an openly gay chief of police, I tried to hang on long enough to read at least one of the stories in full.

My distaste for this novel grew when I noticed how heavily sprinkled this was with vulgarity – specifically one particular word choice which was not merited to be used with such frequency as it wasn’t punctuated by emotional angst but rather it was just ‘there’. However, that wasn’t what grew the disfavour of reading this story – I was holding on through the search for the missing boy, until I started to notice every moment God was mentioned in the context of personal angst to find the missing boy, he was being short-changed or inappropriately blamed for things outside of His control.

I understand different perspectives on religion and different personal beliefs, but what rankled is how the tone and delivery of these passages were being delivered. They just felt wrong somehow, whilst the entire time I was reading this novel I felt disinterested and unamused. I’ve read a lot of Crime novels over the years – from those which broker on hard-boiled and intense story-lines to the lighter side of Cosies to the police procedurals like the Kay Hunter series (most recently) – this story just didn’t have a redeemable quality to it for me. If anything, it felt like it was written with a lot of negative angst and a nail-biting way of driving a reader like me crazy trying to gain a foothold of interest into a story bent against itself. For me, it was definitely a story I did not desire to finish.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Idyll Threats” & “Idyll Fears” along with the series synopsis, novel synopsis and author biography were provided by the publisher Seventh Street Press (via Prometheus Books) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

I’m a social reader | I love sharing my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 4 May, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, Prometheus Books, Small Towne USA, Texas, Vulgarity in Literature




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