“Shadow Puppet: A Dan Sharp Mystery” by Jeffrey Round— Three Missing Gay Men

Round Jeffrey. “Shadow Puppet: A Dan Sharp Mystery”, Dundrun Books, 2019.

Three Missing Gay Men

Amos Lassen

Many of you will remember Dan Sharp mysteries by Jeffrey Round. In this new book, “Shadow Puppet”, Sharp is investigating the disappearance of three closeted gay men, He discovers something in common between the missing men but the police do not seem to want to investigate it. Sharp realizes his suspicions about the police force during a meeting with the chief of  Toronto police so enlists a group of his friends to help find out what is happening in the city’s sex trade. I believe that what makes Jeffrey Round’s stories so interesting is that he explores the nature of human relationships as they affect or are affected by place, character and circumstance. In this case, we become very aware that homophobia prevents the investigation of crime.

There were rumors circulating in Toronto’s LGBT community about the disappearances of gay men and it is common knowledge, it seems, that three gay men had vanished. There was a sense of fear that there might be others. The missing men lived alone and as did have family ties and this is about all that we can tell they shared in common. connection to their families. The police were not interested in these disappearances until a famous openly gay cancer researcher was found stabbed to dead in the same neighborhood where the others went missing. Playing it down, he police investigated the possibility of a simple robbery gone wrong and considers a homophobic hate crime as a second choice and so Dan Sharp, a missing persons investigator, stepped in when two Moslem men hired him to find their missing brother Nabil, who disappeared some days earlier. The brothers discovered that Nabil was gay when they searched through his private things looking to find any information about his disappearance. We get a look here at how Moslems see homosexuality. As Dan investigated, he found himself involved with in the local sex industry.
Dan remains dedicated to finding out the truth about the disappearing men and he suspects that the men are all Moslems might have something to do with their demises.

Dan is worried that a serial killer might be targeting the LGBT community. He is assisted by his friends in looking for the missing men. He learned that Nabil was scheduled to enter a Leatherman contest but never showed up. He also found some leads and clues on Nabil’s computer and his search took him places of danger in the criminal world and  a pornographer filming and probably torturing porn stars.

Pravin, a friend of Dan’s sets himself up to be a decoy in the hopes of coaxing the killer to come forward and this puts him in danger. Domingo and Donny as well as Pravin, Dan’s closest friends, help him in the investigation. In a very tense conclusion, Dan realizes that he had met the killer before. We get a real sense of alienation as we read about the marginalized members of the gay community. Dan discovers, pure evil exists and there is nothing banal about it.  The story is quite tense and it really keeps us turning pages as quickly as possible. Round is a terrific writer and his characters are well drawn; at times we feel as we know them.

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