So, first book started and finished within the new year was, fittingly enough, a book about a murder committed just in time for New Year's.
The Mask of Narcissus by Vincent Lardo was one of my holiday new release discount listings+ extra discount coupon Fictionwise purchases which I basically bought on impulse because the premise looked interesting and the sample read well. Also, it had the sporfle-tastic phrase "and two humpy preppies" in the otherwise standard blurb of how complicated chasing the convoluted clue trail got. The blurb lied about that bit, by the way, unless one applies a rather broad interpretation to the sequence of events and personalities involved.
It was much better-written than I was expecting from a small niche press FW offering, perhaps in part because it turns out the author has a number of Big 6-published mystery/suspense under his belt, and was chosen to "continue" Lawrence Sanders' apparently popular "McNally" mystery/suspense series after that author's death.
Anyway, this is one of his older novels which was originally published back in the 80s by some small press (and perhaps revised by the author with his later experience), but now reprinted by specialty ManLoveRomance Press, which publishes exactly what they say in the name.
Well, actually they don't, in this particular case, because any romance is really very secondary to the who-really-dunnit mystery plot of a gossip columnist trying to figure out what lies behind an apparent open-and-shut case of crime passionel when a prominent socialite's husband is found shot dead with his apparent latest mistress by his current wife. Complicating matters is the fact that the confessed murderess is an old flame of Mike's, and her son seems determined to become his new one.
It's a rather retro-noirish type of mystery/suspense, even given its 80s origins. That kind of hard-boiled, cynically-edged observation of character, means, and motive, and masks being pulled off to reveal new disguises underneath as following the clues leads not to answers, but instead spawns new questions.
I rather liked this one. The murder plot kept growing increasingly complex with twists at every turn, but tied together well and fit nicely in the end (although some of the resolution of that was slightly abrupt). Good legwork was done to follow the clues and the amateur sleuth had to work at it using all his personal/professional resources (and also ran into dead ends and got stymied at points, which seemed more realistic than the guaranteed "Eureka!" that clue-following sometimes elicits in lesser mysteries). The characters seemed okay as well, though in this type of story, the shape of the personalities and the ways in which they react is more important than the substance shown within them, usually.
Medium-high recommend if you like retro-noir-ish hard-boiled society murder mysteries. The m/m and f/m romance content is not particularly romance-y, consisting of non-explicitly phrased innuendo and fade-to-black for the frequent-ish casual sex scenes, and some emotional reminisces about happier previous personal relationships, but not too much angst or drama about things.
At roughly $3 after coupon, this was well worth my money and I'm willing to look at more of the author's books if they come back into print at FW during the sales, and if FW puts them under the right name (they misfiled this one as being written by another MLR Press author). FW's edition may or may not have eaten some of the intended line-spacing between scenes, because there are some sections where it would seem natural to have a transition break between them. But the story is very readable otherwise and there were no noticeable typos.
Also got started on my first selected book for my 2012 challenge, Stephen Leacock's Too Much College, or, Education Eating Up Life, which seems especially fitting for the start of semester.
Even 50+ years later, some of Leacock's points about the way that mathematics and languages are taught in Canada ring true, and overall it seems like it'll make a good addition to the MR library. PG Canada's edition looks to be in pretty good shape, with just some minor typographical niceties and making more easily navigable separated chapters needed for optimal e-reader experience.