“It is not the power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” ~ Aung San Suu Kyi
Russ Morgan is a private investigator who uses his intuitive gifts to help him solve his cases. Russ is also an empath, someone capable of literally feeling what another person is feeling, to put themselves in “other people's shoes". With all the discomfort this can cause, sometimes Russ wonders why he does this job when it's so emotionally and physically draining. It's times like these when he has to remind himself that those of us who have these extra-sensory abilities have a responsibility to use them. Then he is approached to solve what seems to be a simple blackmail case, but, in truth, no case is ever as uncomplicated as it seems and this one is no exception.
Besides being an empath, Russ is also gay, which may or may not be a problem, especially in a case involving a “cured” homosexual. Russ is also a recovering alcoholic; drinking caused enough problems in his life, including losing the love of his life because he couldn't drink. Russ is in his 50s now and is lonely, but still feeling guilty about the one who got away. At the office of his client, he meets an attractive young man named Colin, who is more than helpful and obviously flirting. Russ is sorely tempted, but taps those feelings down telling himself that this beautiful twenty-something young man is way too young for him. Russ does find that Colin is nothing if not persistent and not easily dismissed. His sharp perception of other people sometimes clouds his ability to sort out his own life because, if he lets them, the bombardment of information affordable to him can be quite confusing and unsettling. Russ has been doing this work for many years and is practiced in putting things in perspective by stepping back and regrouping.
Andrew Kommen, the lawyer who hires Russ, is a pompous ass who enjoys asserting his assumed power over others. He's not successful with Russ who can tell the difference between what Kommen says and what he's feeling. Fortunately, Russ can turn his abilities off if necessary. Kommen works for Reverend Howard Richardson, who is even more offensive with a condescending attitude toward everything. He is threatened by a series of notes left in private places, notes that become more threatening as time goes on. They are coming from someone who knows his son, James, whom the reverend placed in a reparative therapy camp years ago to “cure” his homosexuality. His “recovered” son now has a wife and three children. James's recovery is a big feather in the cap of his father's ministry; one he needs to keep. The investigation is convoluted, with seemingly everyone under suspicion and confused except for Russ, who is calmly processing the information and forming his own opinions of the case. Russ is certain he knows who the culprit is, but when the notes become life-threatening, Russ knows he has to make his move and solve the case before someone dies.
This is a well written mystery with an outstandingly crafted main character. Russ being the narrator enabled me to understand what he's thinking and feeling. It also was a great vehicle for letting me see what he saw as far as other people's auras and emotions go and it was all very fascinating. I loved Colin and am looking forward to seeing him again because I doubt he will give up on Russ and I don't think Russ will be able to deny that blond green-eyed elf forever.
For those of you who enjoy a mystery starring a new, gentler, different kind of P.I. with a psychic twist, you may enjoy this story. Thanks so much, Lloyd, for introducing me to Russ and his unique perception about investigations.