“Lion’s Head Revisited: A Dan Sharp Mystery” by Jeffrey Round— Facing the Past

Roundy, Jeffrey. “Lion’s Head Revisited: A Dan Sharp Mystery”, Dundurn, 2020.

Facing the Past

Amos Lassen

 Private Investigator Dan Sharp  comes to Ontario to Lion’s Head in the Bruce peninsula because of a case in which he must face his own dark past. When a four-year-old autistic boy disappears on a camping trip, his mother does not want to call and instead, she calls in private investigator Dan Sharp after she receives a ransom demand. 

As he begins his investigation, Dan learns there are plenty of people who could be responsible for the kidnapping. There is an ex-husband who wrongly believed the boy to be his son; the boy’s drug addicted surrogate mother, the boy’s grandmother, who has been denied access to her grandson; and a mysterious woman whose unexpected appearances set everyone on edge.

At Lion’s Head in the Bruce Peninsula, where the boy disappeared, Dan is forced to face his own brutal upbringing. When a suspected kidnapper is found dead, Dan suddenly chases the ghosts of both the present and the past.

Dan Sharp is a smart gay private detective. who specializes in finding lost persons. Jeffrey Round’s books explore LGBT themes especially regarding the representation of gay men in crime fiction as well as insight into the gay community. There is a lot of suspense and tension in Round’s writing and he has drawn characters who are well developed and believable. While this case is complicated it is not difficult to follow. Of course, it helps that Round is a master of description and character construction.

It is Sharp’s job to find the 4 year old autistic boy who suddenly was missing on a camping trip. The boy’s mother lives with her female partner and the missing boy’s actual biological father, Eli who is a past schoolmate of both women. Could the kidnapper be any of suspects mentioned above or someone else?  When the ransom money goes missing. it is not clear whether he can be saved and as he works on the case, Dan’s life in danger.

Dan grew up in Lion’s Head and while he investigates, he faces the past emotional trauma  he had to deal with as he grew up. In his personal life and at the same time, Dan’s son is on a college break with some of his supportive friends while Nick, his policeman lover is trying to decide whether they should move in together. We want Dan to find happiness but his plate is quite full.

With the help of Nick, they review the suspects and try to follow the trail of the kidnappers; figuring that there must be more than one of them. The intense plot and Round’s writing skills kept me turning pages as quickly as possible. There are surprises and twists that kept me guessing. This is so much more than a mystery/thriller and I really love that.

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