Maclean, Dal. “Bitter Legacy”, Blind Eye Books, 2016.
No Ordinary Policeman
Detective Sergeant James Henderson (Jamie) of London’s Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation Team is no ordinary cop. He has amazing gut instincts and is a non-stop detective and this what got him on a three-year fast track to becoming an inspector.
When he was assigned to the murder case of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte lands in his lap, Henderson is taken back into world of London’s privileged elite. This is the world he came out of. His father was wonderfully wealthy and had so much power that he was able to hold the law in contempt. As James moves among the promiscuous, secretive and corrupt spheres of the rich, the murderer strikes once again. James fears that these crimes lead very close to his own home and he risks losing everything he’s made of his life unless he can expose the truths that have brought about this “bitter legacy”.
Jamie knows that he is gay even though he has never been with a man. That changes when he meets Ben who is extremely handsome and very flirtatious. It seems that other men are incredibly drawn to him and once he’s entrapped them they are powerless to resist. Jamie is like the others in this regard. Jamie’s investigation takes him to the apartments Ben lives in and there Jamie is instantly captivated by Ben. He learns that Ben is looking for a flatmate and since Jamie is looking for a new apartment so they soon find themselves living together. However, Ben is very promiscuous and is very open about it. The more Jamie is around Ben his common sense leaves him and he is lost to resist Ben. When they become an item Jamie expects monogamy even though he knows exactly what Ben is like.
Ben was totally upfront about his sexuality and never made any promises about being exclusive, but when he cheated on Jamie, my heart went out to him. This is not just a mystery but also a look at the two men’s relationship.
I am really not much of a mystery reader but I must say that I found myself deeply involved in the story here; so much so that I read the book in one sitting. The plot is complex and involves a series of murders in London investigated by Jamie whose personal life takes place alongside the investigation. He deals with his first relationship as a gay male as well as the first time he has sex with another guy. As for the investigation, I can’t tell you more about it except to say that it leaves the reader feeling positive that you know what is transpiring at times and then stunned that you don’t know at other times.
The mystery is solid and the investigation drags on, through false leads and twists, and maybe another linked death. But while his professional life is frustrating and murky, James thinks he finally has a shot at a real personal life with Ben. Unfortunately, Ben has different ideas about what is going on between them, and what a gay man’s life should look like. Thus forces Janie’s dreams to collide and when he finally understands how it all comes together, he realizes that not everything is as it appears to be.
As we watch Jamie as the lead investigator on the case, we see who he is and that is more than just a bright young detective on the fast-track to promotion. We see that he is a man whose uncompromising instincts on the job run at complete odds with the compromises he is willing to make in his personal life (keeping Ben Morgan in his bed—even if it means sharing Ben with other men). We see Jamie operate and as he does, he is grappling with a lifeline that begins to drag him under. His relationship with Ben is in opposition to his professional life. He suffers a conflict of lust and principles when his investigation when he meets Ben. The reality of Jamie’s losing his heart is somewhat depressing especially when he realizes that he is just a convenient sex object. Ben is both possessive and contemptuous of James’s feelings. Both Jamie and the reader have to figure out who this enigma named Ben really is.