Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Review: Dying to Play by Mark Zubro

Dying To PlayFrom the blurb:

Gay PI Mike King is called upon to investigate what is happening to a minor league baseball team. He follows the trail of drugs, death, and destruction through the deadly dangers he finds in the rural community. Through the lives of the hot studs involved in baseball, he has to navigate to find the truth about what is happening to them and their dreams.

Rosa's Review:


Almost a year ago I commented that I didn't know if I'd eaten too many potatoes for lunch or if this book was just confusing. After finishing it, I'd say that it's not that it's confusing, but the events and characters all seem distant. Like maybe I had a potato lodged in my ear and I wasn't quite getting everything. WHAT?! YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP, I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THIS FINGERLING IN MY EAR CANAL.

The story centers around Mike King, a successful Chicago PI. Mike drives a Porsche (or some kind of sports car-maybe a red one?), has a Picasso on his office wall and has three employees. There's the guy from Australia, who at the beginning of the book is undercover with some home grown terrorists and who Mike would like to fuck, but doesn't. For reasons. There's the gender fluid character, the master/mistress of disguise, who at the beginning is off with her cycling boyfriend at the Tour de France. Okay. And then there's Mike's assistant, a grad student. No word on whether Mike wants to screw around with the last two. Oh! And Mike has a dog. Nice.

The plot centers around baseball and small town politics. There's a baseball stadium, some people don't like that it's been built there by some rich dude. A few of the players are being harassed and Mike goes undercover as a baseball player to figure out what's going on. Murder ensues (naturally!).

Anyway, my problem with it is that I just didn't care. I didn't care about any of the characters, or the murders, and I especially didn't care about Mike King. Lemme tell you something--I was 71% of the way through the book and I ran across the word, "I." And I thought to myself, who's "I"? Who's talking right now? The book is in first person from Mike King's perspective and I still couldn't remember who he was. The only reason I remember his name is because it's in the blurb. I dunno, this book has everything I usually enjoy -- hot guys, murder, a jaded main character who always gets his man, but never gets his man (cuz he's unlucky in love, geddit?) -- but it didn't give me an emotional reason to connect to Mike or any of the other characters.

I mean, how did Mike King become so successful as a PI? That's not a vocation I imagine people go into for the money. How is it he has an international clientele? Is he independently wealthy? Does he love his mommy? His friends/employees continuously give him a hard time for falling for the wrong men--is there a specific relationship that Mike mourns? Who was the guy? What happened? GIVE ME SOMETHING TO LATCH ONTO, PLEASE.

Also, all the sex is off-page. BOO! I don't need explicit sex scenes in every book I read; sometimes I'm just not in the mood and want to read about interesting characters, not hard cocks and fluttering butt holes. But I felt like the book promised sexy times and didn't deliver. However, MLR Press does provide a heat rating for their books--I really appreciate that. The heat rating for this book is "mild," so it's not like I wasn't warned. But when you have a character like Mike King, who makes a point of checking out the bulging manhood of every "hot stud" he meets, I expect a certain amount of sex.

It's odd that I remember it so well even a year later. But it just bugs the shit out of me that I didn't like the book. Mark Zubro is a good writer and I've enjoyed his books in the past, but this one is going on the "ugh" pile.

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Thanks for reading my review!

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