Series: Borealis Investigations: Book Three
Author: Gregory Ashe
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 383 Pages
At a Glance: Declination is yet another example of the things Gregory Ashe can do with two intrinsically flawed and ultimately endearing men, a handful of crooked cops, a solid cast of supporting characters, a healthy dose of murder, and an unquenchable thirst for justice.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Shaw and North are together. Finally. After eight years of knowing each other and loving each other and slipping past each other, they’ve finally told each other how they feel. Borealis Investigations is growing, and they have a major prospective client on the line. Everything is finally moving the way it should.
Until the night Shaw receives a phone call telling him that Detective Jadon Reck, his former boyfriend, has been attacked.
In spite of a warning from Jadon’s partner, Shaw and North begin an investigation into the attack. But nothing is at it seems. City police are working to cover up evidence faster than Shaw and North can find it, and the motive for the attack seems impossible to unravel.
When a conspiracy of dirty cops takes action against Shaw and North, the two detectives realize they are running out of time. They have to get answers about the attack on Jadon before they lose their own lives. But Shaw knows there are things worse than death. And one of them has come back for him, to finish what he started seven years before.
The West End Slasher has returned.
Review: Language is such an awesome beast. Twenty-six letters in the alphabet create an absolute plethora of words that, when thrown together in just the right order, can make us fall in love with characters, laugh with them, hurt with them, cry with them. And some words—Declination, for example—even have more than one meaning. Gregory Ashe offers the definition: the deviation of a compass needle from true north; the extent of that deviation. But it is also synonymous with words such as decline, regret, and rejection, which also play their part in this story. That Ashe has offered such a multifaceted interpretation of a single word through his narrative voice speaks so well to how he throws layers of meaning into his stories.
Shaw Aldrich and North McKinney are exceptionally on-brand Gregory Ashe characters. Flawed and vulnerable to the hilt, they spend a fair amount of time falling apart and putting each other back together again. And, oddly enough, this is what makes them fit. They are not impervious to threat or immune to danger, as are the heroes of many books, yet there’s no question they’re the good guys. Shaw, with all his quirks and endearing qualities, also suffers from the residual trauma of a crime that left his date dead and Shaw scarred both physically and psychologically. How he struggles in the aftermath of the West End Slasher’s attack is what makes Shaw, Shaw. And this is what makes this book, this book. In other words, Declination is about Shaw’s decline—his obsession with finding the Slasher to the exclusion of almost all else…North included. His regret that he can’t remember more from that night and that he couldn’t save Carl’s life. And his rejection of the truth that everything that’s happened, from then until now, is not his fault.
That’s not to say that North doesn’t have his own issues to deal with, however, not the least of which includes one helluva teaser at the end of Declination which leads me to believe that, although this is the last book in this trilogy, it won’t be the last we hear from Borealis Investigations. What this novel comes down to, apart from the investigation into a tangle of corruption, police brutality, murder, attempted murder, and dirty cops on the take, is Shaw and North learning to trust each other with their most vulnerable and broken places. Yeah, they’ve known each other for years, but their relationship is new and the shift in dynamics is unfamiliar, and this accounts for some of the tense, and even sometimes awkward, exchanges that happen between them. The words haven’t changed, the way they speak to each other hasn’t changed, but the trajectory of their connection has, so while they’re both fairly accustomed to feeling exposed and raw, they are not at all accustomed to each other seeing and responding to that raw exposure in a way that means something so much more to them.
As for the mystery, this is finally where we see the long arc resolved, so just press play and repeat on my previous reviews of Ashe’s finessing the pieces of the puzzle. He kept me guessing, left me wrong-footed and threw off all my efforts to guess who the killer was right up to the confrontation and revelation. The various threads of the crimes came together in a way that was a culmination of all of Shaw’s fear and anger, and in the end it provides the moment of reckoning in his relationship with North. The moment where Shaw reclaims himself and acknowledges the truth that through it all, through everything, North has always been there, and that he, Shaw, wasn’t to blame for the actions of a serial killer.
Declination is yet another example of the things Gregory Ashe can do with two intrinsically flawed and ultimately endearing men, a handful of crooked cops, a solid cast of supporting characters, a healthy dose of murder, and an unquenchable thirst for justice.
You can buy Declination here:
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