The Elegant Corpse by A M Riley

Rating: 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★½☆ 
Title: The Elegant Corpse
Author: A M Riley
Genre: Detective/mystery
URL: Loose ID
Price: US $6.99
Other Information/warnings: bdsm, violence, torture, explicit sexual content
Summary [from the publisher]:

Detective Roger Corso is open about his sexual orientation. He’s less forthcoming about his leather lifestyle. There’s only so much his coworkers can take. He thinks he’s doing a pretty good job of keeping it covert, but then something happen that changes his mind.

Someone delivers an elegantly clothed corpse to his home. His couch to be precise. And that corpse is carrying a leather flogger. Roger’s taking that personally.

My review:

A M Riley is a frustrating author in that she’s highly talented—she can get you wrapped up in her stories and her characters like few authors can—but she’s a sloppy craftswoman. The editing in this book is very much better than in others of hers I’ve read, so it’s much easier to praise it unequivocally.

The story is complex, and fails a bit towards the end through that complexity, since the villain’s motivation never makes a lot of sense. But the real story is about Roger, leather dom, grieving lover, and gay police detective, find his past and present mingling unpleasantly, as he tries to solve a series of murders which seem to be linked directly to him in the most personal ways. Enter a victim’s brother, Sean, trying to make sense of his loss, his sexuality, and his attraction to a man involved in a lifestyle he barely understands. Roger’s the more compelling of the two characters, but the book is full of vivid and interesting people, like Mary-Anne, Roger’s partner, and Jay, the aging , dying doyen of the gay leather scene.

I’m not in the BDSM scene but I loved the details here, as well as the way BDSM is shown to differ from torture and abuse, and the way the victims of terrible things can learn to deal with their memories. It isn’t just me as clueless outsider who thinks Riley gets this mostly right – Sarah Frantz, who’s something of an expert on the subject, agrees (and loves the book too.)

This isn’t a book for everyone – it has some very heavy stuff in it – but it’s a very enjoyable engrossing read, exploring a difficult subject well and with skill. Recommended.