Maloney’s Law by Anne Brooke – review

Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ Title: Maloney’s Law
Author: Anne Brooke
Genre: Crime, mystery
URL: PD Publishing
Price: US$15.99 / UK£ 4.73
Other Information/warnings: Violence, explicit m/m
Summary [from the publisher]:
Paul Maloney, a small-time private investigator from London, reluctantly accepts a case from his married ex-lover, Dominic Allen. Before he knows it, Paul finds himself embroiled in the dark dealings of big business and the sordid world of international crime. The deeper he pushes, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
Can he solve the mystery and protect those he loves before it’s too late
My review: I was sent this to review this morning, and I started to flick through it to see if it was my kind of thing or not.

Two hours later….

This book grabbed me from the first page and held me until the very last, when I closed it, sniffling and crying. Readers, this is good stuff. But a romance it’s not, though it’s about love in all its forms, painful and beautiful. It’s a hell of a trip.

Paul Maloney, to put it bluntly, is a complete fucking mess. He’s still in love with his married ex, Dominic, and in recovery from a nervous breakdown he suffered when Dominic dumped him in the shittiest way imaginable. He suffers recurring nightmares from the kidnapping and murder of a sibling when he was six, and his relationship with his family is fucked up as a result. The only good thing in his life is his secretary/assistant, Jade, a friend since university, and literally the person who’s saved his life more than once. He frankly admits he couldn’t manage without her, and it’s quite true.

So taking on Dominic as a client isn’t a very smart thing to do. But as the novel unfolds, and we learn more about Paul’s incredibly screwed up pysche, while also trying to follow a tight mystery plot, his behaviour makes more sense, even if its destructiveness is obviousness. It makes sense, internally, and that’s why the novel is so deeply satisfying.

The plot is secondary to the characters and their interactions – it’s not a twisty one, but it’s well done and gripping. However, it’s the beautifully created characters that remain in your head. Jade, so understanding, so loving. Her parents, decent and kind. Paul’s mother, shattered by loss. Oddly enough, it’s Dominic who’s the least vividly realised, despite Paul’s obsession. It’s difficult to see the side which attracted Paul to him, and despite events late in the novel, he really only comes across as an A-grade prick. A manipulative one though, and good at messing with Paul’s already tangled mind.

It’s a story about loss, love, atonement and hope. It made me cry a number of times, but it leaves you with a sense of going forward. The writing is tight, very nice indeed. It’s first person, present tense, which I know a lot of readers loathe, but to me, it was perfect for this story.

The only major criticism to me is the manner of the denouement, which was a tad too much like the classic parlour room at the end of Agatha Christie style books, but even that served the plot well enough. It’s not a huge flaw, and wouldn’t stop me rereading or recommending this novel most heartily. Paul Maloney is a wonderful character, and this is a wonderful book.