After a recent case with a treacherous client, North and Shaw are ready to go back to work building Borealis Investigations. They’re also ready to go back to dodging their feelings for each other, with neither man ready to deal with the powerful emotions the Matty Fennmore case stirred up. Everything is getting back to normal when their secretary asks for help: her girlfriend’s boss has gone missing.
Shep Collins runs a halfway house for LGBTQ kids and is a prominent figure in St. Louis’s gay community. When he disappears, however, dark truths begin to emerge about Shep’s past: his string of failed relationships, a problem with disappearing money, and his work, years before, as one of the foremost proponents of conversion therapy.
When Shep’s body turns up at the halfway house, the search for a missing person becomes the search for a murderer.
As North and Shaw probe for answers, they find that they are not the only ones who have come looking for the truth about Shep Collins. Their investigation puts them at odds with the police who are working the same case, and in that conflict, North and Shaw find threads leading back to the West End Slasher—the serial killer who almost took Shaw’s life in an alley seven years before. As the web of an ancient conspiracy comes to light, Shaw is driven to find answers, and North faces what might be his last chance to tell Shaw how he really feels.
Gregory Ashe has become one of my favourite authors over the last year or so, and I’ve been longing to dive into Triangulation, the second book in his Borealis Investigations series ever since I turned the last page on the first book, Orientation, earlier this year. I’m addicted to the blend of well-constructed mystery, complex, dysfunctional characters and angsty, slow-burn romance I’ve found in his novels; the plotting is tight and full of twists and turns, the romantic chemistry is combustible and his writing is wonderfully assured, ranging from the vividly descriptive to the lyrical, from grin-inducing humour to the pointedly insightful.
Although the mystery central to Orientation (which should be read first) was wrapped up by the end, events contained therein continue to have repercussions throughout Triangulation, so there will be spoilers in this review.
Triangulation picks up a few months after the previous book ended, and sees Borealis Investigations on a much firmer footing than it was when we first met North and Shaw, thanks to an upturn in business following their recent success in apprehending a blackmailer and murderer. But the Fennmore case threw a ticking time-bomb into the middle the long-standing friendship between the two men, and the resulting wounds are still raw. Neither of them is ready to admit to the shift in their relationship or work out what it means, even Shaw, who normally loves to talk things through; and North… well he most definitely doesn’t want to go there.
So on the surface at least, things are pretty much back to normal. North grumbles and snarks his way through the days and Shaw is as upbeat and endearingly enthusiastic as ever. When their assistant, Pari, asks them to look into the disappearance of her girlfriend’s boss, an LGBTQ youth worker and prominent figure in the St. Louis gay community, North isn’t wild about taking the case, especially when he learns that the man in question, Shep Collins, used to administer conversion therapy to gay teenaged boys. But Pari’s girlfriend Chuck is distraught, and insists that Collins is a completely different man now; he’s out and married, the kids he works with love him and he sees his work now as a way of atoning for what he did in the past. North doesn’t want to take the case… but as a result of one of those typical North-and-Shaw roundabout not-conversations, ends up ungraciously agreeing to do so.
North and Shaw start digging for information, and from the outset, they’re confronted with differing accounts of who Collins was and conflicting stories about his last known movements. Nobody is telling the truth, even Chuck, who was worried enough about the man’s disappearance to hire Borealis to find him in the first place. But when Collins’ body is found in the trunk of her car, things escalate quickly and Chuck is arrested for murder. Determined to find out the truth, North and Shaw’s investigation leads them into direct conflict with members of St. Louis P.D.’s LGBT task force, and specifically with two of its detectives, whose interest in the case seems more focused on North and Shaw than on actually finding out who killed Shep Collins.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.