“No good deed goes unpunished.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Philip Potter, of 'No Good Deed' by Michael Rupured, takes under his wing a young homeless boy named James, who was thrown away by his father because he is gay. Caring for James is a labor of love; Philip only has the best of intentions toward James. James was turning tricks when Philip picks him up but, even though James begs for more, they do not share a bed until James turns eighteen. When James needs money for ballet school, he decides to ask his father for it, knowing Philip doesn’t have it. He hopes that maybe, just this once, his father won’t let him down. James is wrong. Knowing Philip won’t be home yet, he returns to their apartment. Feeling totally worthless, nothing but a burden, James shoots himself, leaving a note for Philip that simply says: “Forget Me”.
As Philip tries to deal with the aftermath of losing James, he comes to realize some bitter facts about their relationship. The first one is that the beautiful, fragile man he loved so much was, in reality, more like a little brother than a lover. James looked up to Philip, even loved him, but James was broken - irreparably so. Ending it all would also end the disappointment James had for himself and, in his mind, it would keep him from disappointing anyone ever again. As more of the truth about their relationship comes to light, Philip learns that the closeness, trust, and honesty he felt he had with James was just an illusion. Philip begins to wonder if he really knew James at all. Philip was always there to encourage, support, defend, love, and protect James. Perhaps his only fault was doing too much for him instead of encouraging him to be more self-sufficient. Even though things turned out dreadfully wrong, Philip takes comfort in his belief that his compassion toward James was unconditional.
As if James's death wasn't enough to deal with, Philip's kindheartedness gets him in trouble again. The Christmas gifts he bought for some young men in a homeless shelter link him to a murder investigation and Philip was the last person to see the latest victim. His need for legal council leads him to James's uncle, George, who is happy to help him. After an intense questioning, James is not arrested, but told to stay in town. Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing. There are a few likely suspects, other than Philip, who are quickly ruled out. In the meanwhile, the murders continue.
This book is a real roller coaster ride of emotions from happiness to horror. From James's death, police investigation, and the side stories involving the murder suspects, the story kept me swinging from one feeling to another. Although there are lots of sexual references, there are no on-page sex scenes. Everything is either alluded to or explained by switching narrators depending upon which characters were involved. I was almost certain I knew who the murderer was, but some deliberately misleading 'clues' made me doubt it, but not for too long. This story takes place in 1969, a year after I graduated from high school. Many of the references to cars, products, clothing, and attitudes brought back memories both good and bad. Injustice ran rampant and, even after all the progress that has been made, there is still a long way to go. If you enjoy murder mysteries, gay characters, the 1960s, and second chances, you may like this book. Thanks, Michael, for a suspenseful read.