“Once Upon A Haunted Moor – Tyak & Frayne #1” by Harper Fox

once upon a haunted moorThis novella has a little bit of everything: PC in a remote village on Bodmin Moor obsessed with finding a lost child, a psychic with cryptic clues, the possible presence of the Beast of Bodmin, family intrigue and a gay romance.

The romance is more central to the story than the possibly haunted moor. Our PC, son of a fierce Minister, lives in the house that used to be his father’s, in the village he grew up in. He sees himself as the protector of the village and yet he is unable to admit his sexuality to the other villagers (all of whom have recognised his preferences for some time. The romance liberates the policeman from his doubts and his fears and enables him truly to be himself.

I thought the romance and the sex scenes were well done. I liked the intimacy between the two men: the way they talked to each other, the way they saw each other’s strengths and their own weaknesses, the way they needed the comfort of the other’s touch.

The crime plot was not complicated and was made even less so when it was solved by not-so-cryptic visions from the psychic. The atmosphere of distress and threat was well evoked. I didn’t think the supernatural veneer added much.

If you have a choice between ebook an audio, I recommend you go with the ebook. The narrator of the audiobook does the dialogue very well but handles the rest of the text with random inflexions and a generic I-must-emote-more style that suggests a sight-read rather than a thoughtful delivery. The narrator seemed deaf to the distinctive cadence of Harper Fox’s prose.

Although this was a pleasant read, it was a little too slight to make me keen to move on to the next book in the series.

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