Round, Jeffrey. “Vanished In Vallarta: A Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery”, (The Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery Series) (Volume 3), Rounder Publications, 2014.
South of the Border (Is It Still Politically Correct to Say That?)
Some seven years ago when I first started reviewing seriously, I made the decision that for every established gay writer I reviewed, I would a writer that I had never heard of and/or never read. It was a shot in the dark but it worked and now some of the guys I reviewed early on have now become well known and several of them have won awards. Two of those writers who come to mind immediately are Nick Nolan (whose new book, “Wide Asleep”, I just reviewed) and Jeffrey Round. As I sat down to write this review, I thought back to the first book of his that I read and said to myself that Round has come a long way but I was not surprised because I saw in him early on something that would make a popular writer (and it has nothing with the fact that he is a hunk and a good-looking man). Even more interesting is that I am not a big fan of mysteries and that is his genre. I learned how fast to appreciate the work and the time that he puts into his writing. (And I can just imagine how hard it was to go to Puerto Vallarta to do research for a book especially after reading his descriptions.
We return to meet Bradford Fairfax, Round’s gay underground detective and find him “suffering” in the heat of the Mexican sun. He is on assignment and we will get to that in a moment. It did not take Fairfax long to realize that he was not on vacation and that he had something to worry about. His boss has not yet told him why he is there and he receives a distress call from a local diva. And if that is not enough, a fellow agent is blown away as he was passing on some top-secret information. Befuddled (I love that word), he has no idea what to do or where to turn. And then there is the return of his former partner in espionage, Little Wing, from the dead looking much better than people do when alive.
Now suspicion reigns and there is something very unusual going on.
Fairfax is now involved with a new guy and he is worried that the past might play havoc with that. His new squeeze, Zachary is very sexy and very hunky and our detective has some serious thinking to do in addition to finding out what is going on in Puerto Vallarta.
We learn that someone has threatened to kidnap the diva and the plot gets thick and filled with twists and turns. This is a mystery but it is also filled with laughs and the characters and situations will have you laughing out loud.
I am not going to say anymore about the plot except that Jeffrey Round has crafted it all perfectly. You will need to wear your sleuth hat if you want to try to solve the case but you will have a much better time just reading the story.
I find myself repeating what I have said of other books that Round has written—he knows how to pull us and keep us there and he does so with great style.