Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Porte des Morts by Ronae McGuire

Publisher:             Alpha World Press

Sometimes when you read a book expecting one thing, what you discover is a gem that has been sitting under your nose for some time. Then you wonder why you didn’t pick it up and read it sooner so that you could have had this experience earlier. Such was my experience with Porte des Morts by Ronae McGuire.

There is definitely a mystery at the heart of this story. Carly McCray’s yacht blew up in front of her, killing her lover Susan, and Carly suspects it wasn’t an accident. As the president of a very successful software company, Carly can afford to hire a detective to investigate discreetly into what happened and her lawyer sends her to Jesse Ferren. Jesse has been roaming around the country with her dog Harley trying to escape from a tragedy in her life, but she hasn’t been very successful at it. She doesn’t really like Carly when she meets her, but Jesse is running low on funds and the job seems pretty simple...at first. 

As the investigation proceeds, Jesse is constantly frustrated by a client who won’t tell her the whole truth, people who keep turning out not to be what everyone thinks and someone who is attempting to kill Carly, but keeps hurting Jesse. The story develops in a “Big Bang” scenario as Jesse uncovers evidence of computer fraud, embezzlement of huge sums of money, false identities and an ever increasing number of Carly’s acquaintances who just might want to kill her. 

What bothers Jesse more however is her increasing attraction to Carly and the realization that Carly feels the same way. Neither one of them wants a relationship and certainly not with each other, but they’re having a difficult time fighting their feelings. As they come to know and understand each other, it becomes clear that they might have a chance for a future, if someone doesn’t kill them first.

Porte des Morts is a well told story with a plot that flows smoothly and characters that are interesting and appealing. The best parts though are the very funny scenes that spring up unexpectedly and add a little twist to a rather serious tale. Without giving away too much, the reader will want to watch for a discussion about tomatoes that is a classic in misunderstanding what is going on and there is a story about the dangers of having a guinea pig for a pet that is hilarious. 

The only true negatives to the book are some that seem to be recurring for books from Alpha Press. The company uses a larger font and double spaces between lines, which is easy on the eyes, but it means the story isn’t really 322 pages long. The other problem is that there are sentences where words are left out, most often “the,” and a couple of places where the paragraph suddenly jumps down a line. Though this doesn’t ruin the book, it is a little jarring to be reading along in a good scene and have the tempo disrupted when you realize something is wrong. The author deserves to have a better production job done on her work.

Porte des Morts is listed as the first in the Jesse Ferren series. If the rest of the books are like this one, a very promising new series has arrived in lesbian literature.

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