Sometimes, you go into a book with expectations, and you come out the other side grossly underwhelmed. But sometimes you go in not expecting much, and you actually get something a little delightful. Greg Honey by Russ Gregory was just such a book. I was expecting a cute little detective story with some heavy gay themes running throughout. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a somewhat basic gist of the story. But Gregory writes the story with so much humor and whimsy that you can’t help but smile and keep reading along.
Greg Honey runs a failing detective agency in Austin, Texas. While his family is rich in a Beverly Hillbillies struck oil kinda way, he has been shunned by his domineering mother because of his homosexuality. Although he starts out the book barely able to make rent, his life quickly picks up as a flamboyant friend asks him to track down his long lost brother. And then he gets hired to run some background checks. And to snoop on the flamboyant friend’s partner. From a famine of work, suddenly, there comes a flood. And of course, in true caper style, they all merge together by the end of the book, making Agatha Christie smile somewhere far away.
The highlight of the book are the characters. Greg Honey is a charming protagonist, sure, but he’s playing straight man to his motor mouth, heavily armed best friend Willa, his ice queen of a mother, his flamboyant fashion chasing client Russ Buttons, and a creepy cop that is stalking him because he wants some of that honey pot (forgive the gross pun). The cliches are turned on their head just enough to make it fun, and the story hums smoothly along.
The hardest part of this book to get through are the first two chapters or so. There’s a lot of straining for humor, and a lot of parenthetical jokes. And while I like a good parenthetical joke as much as the next guy (who doesn’t), I tend to be cautious with them as they can seem excessive. As one of my best friends Krystin told me in college: “If it’s parentheses and it’s necessary, remove the parentheses. Otherwise, cut the whole damn thing.” I’m sure she said it more eloquently, but the sentiment remains the same. So the humor is a little forced, but this melts away in the later chapters.
Also, the love story is a little fast and unneeded. For no reason, Honey lands the man of his dreams, and though they spend little time doing anything but sleeping together, they’re convinced they’re made for each other, even moving in together by the end of the book (apparently lesbians aren’t the only ones who bring UHauls to a second date). It doesn’t add anything to the story except make it a little “gayer,” but the whole relationshipis really just ho-hum.
Gregory hits his stride with his can’t-catch-a-break hero. It has a feeling of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but Greg Honey is nowhere near as bumbling as Plum. He’s just a little inexperienced. And the characters in his life are crazy. And intrigue, mischief, drag queens, socialites, tasers, and musical theatre abound. But that’s why it’s fun.
JMF Rating: 7.5/10
‘Til next time,
Note: This book was received from NetGalley.com in return for an honest review.