Wednesday 3 July 2013

Book Review: Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield

Grime and Punishment (Brothers Grime #1)
by Z.A. Maxfield
M/M Contemporary
4 Stars


The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson's way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack's people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don't solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg's suicide.

Ryan Halloran's cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick's suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.

Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick's lookalike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers. Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they've both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime And Punishment.


I've never read a book where the main character was a crime scene cleaner and it was interesting to learn about such an intriguing, if sometimes gory job. I had to skim a few of the more detailed gory scenes, but that's probably just me, I do the same when watching CSI and have to close my eyes for parts of it. I don't think the author put it in for shock value, it was there to show you the characters' emotional reactions to it. After all, despite it being his job, Jack has never had to clean up a loved-one's scene before and neither has Ryan, even though he's a nurse and probably sees a lot of things in his job.

Both characters were well-drawn, they both had flaws which made them much more realistic rather than cardboard cut-outs of romance book heroes. No billionaires or supermen here. Jack has never really dated, his friend with benefits, Dave, is a closeted cop who 'doesn't do breakfast' or anything else that might out him and Jack is left wondering if that is all there is? A quick fumble in the dark, then Dave leaves, never staying overnight.

When the gets the call about his ex-lover's suicide, Jack meets his cousin Ryan and is unnerved at the uncanny resemblance between them, but he soon realises that Ryan is nothing like Nick despite their shared good lucks. They bond over cleaning up the suicide scene together, but I found it odd that they would be allowed to do such a thing, knowing the victim and all, but I don't really know if that's how things work in reality or not.

The romance happens a little bit fast for my taste (their first physical encounter happens just before Nick's funeral - in the space of a few days), but it was a very emotional time for both of them, so it could be that they are using sex as a way of dealing with things.

Ryan doesn't know the whole truth of what happened with Nick and Jack and Jack tries to keep it a secret for reasons I couldn't fathom. The truth would show Nick in a bad light, maybe Jack still wanted Ryan to have some good memories of his cousin and was trying to protect him. He should have just told Ryan the truth from the start and not worry about tarnishing Nick's less than stellar reputation anyway. It seemed a forced conflict to me and it got a bit wearing after a while wondering when or if Jack would finally tell Ryan what happened.

I felt a little bit sorry for Dave, he seemed quite upset when he realised that Jack and Ryan were now an item, but maybe he should have realised sooner that Jack wouldn't be happy being in the closet with him forever. Jack wanted and needed someone who didn't want to hide who he was or who he was intimate with.

It's a good book peopled with vibrant characters and an interesting start to the Brothers Grime Series.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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