Release Review: Fight or Flight: Dirk Greyson
Flight or Fight
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Released August 5, 2016
Life in the big city wasn’t what Mackenzie "Mack" Redford expected, and now he’s come home to Hartwick County, South Dakota, to serve as sheriff.
Brantley Calderone is looking for a new life. After leaving New York and buying a ranch, he’s settling in and getting used to living at a different pace—until he finds a dead woman on his porch and himself the prime suspect in her murder.
Mack and Brantley quickly realize several things: someone is trying to frame Brantley; he is no longer safe alone on his ranch; and there’s a definite attraction developing between them, one that only increases when Mack offers to let Brantley stay in his home. But as their romance escalates, so does the killer. They’ll have to stay one step ahead and figure out who wants Brantley dead before it’s too late. Only then can they start the life they’re both seeking—together.
The MM/mystery Flight or Fight is my first exposure to author Dirk Greyson. Like many of the novels I have read in this subgenre of romance, the mystery is not terribly convoluted, but it serves its purpose well enough by giving the romantic pairing something extra to challenge it. Though the author accomplishes a good balance between the story arcs here, I still found myself scratching my head at times, and not in the way of when a good mystery baffles me.
Brantley Calderone is the new owner of ranch in rural South Dakota, a setting and life far afield from his high-rolling, successful days as a New York City investment manager. It’s a change he wanted to make, but when he finds his real estate agent shot dead on his front porch a few days after moving in, he wonders whether moving away from the “safety” of the city was the right choice. Mackenzie “Mack” Redford, the sheriff of Hartwick County, is relieved that it doesn’t take him long to rule out Brantley as the prime suspect, as it’s never a good thing to be attracted to the man he’s investigating. But since Brantley seems to be equally interested in pursuing something with Mack, the fact that the killer is intent on driving Brantley away by any means necessary makes the murder case all the more personal for the sheriff. If he’s to keep Brantley from leaving, he’ll have to make sure they work together to expose their adversary, for only then can they have a chance at a happily ever after.
Since much of my teenage years were spent enjoying mystery novels, picking up a romance book framed as a whodunit twenty years later (ok, closer to thirty…shut up) is something that I always do with a bit of excitement, in spite of the fact that my experience with them has been mixed. For some reason, it seems a challenge for authors of the subgenre to balance the romantic and mystery aspects without making a mess of it. Fortunately, the plot of Flight or Fight is not a problem. It does focus much more heavily on the mystery story, using the budding romance between the characters as a means for adding an extra layer of urgency to find the murderer quickly. I would hesitate to call this a noir-style mystery, even though it contains some of the style elements, because the story is not dark or gritty. Add to this the fact that the mystery itself is fairly easy to follow, and you have an easy, comfortable read that would work even in situations where your attention might frequently be dragged elsewhere while reading. Though there’s nothing really surprising here for a seasoned mystery reader, I have no complaints with the plotting—no loose ends nor any unbelievable twists, for example—so since the majority of the story is the mystery, that’s a good thing.
Probably the biggest issue I had with the book, though, is the writing style. The dialogue is fine, but the narration seems filled with a lot of extraneous details throughout. Details can be good, but too often here I found myself being pulled out of the story because of it. Is it necessary, for example, to comment about a character absently scratching his butt before taking a sip of his coffee? It certainly wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t get back into the story, but still. And then where details are a big plus—ahem, in the romantic scenes—the author decided to leave much to the imagination most of the time. Maybe that’s a personal preference thing, but it certainly left me wanting.
As far as the characters and their romance are concerned, for the most part, I enjoyed them. They make a good pair because they are similar in many ways. While such similarity can post problems from a perspective standpoint, the author does an excellent job keeping this from becoming a problem. There are a few decisions the author makes that some readers may question, though. For example, almost right from the start, Mack seems rather open with Brantley about the facts of the case. But this makes a certain amount of sense if one considers the location and situation. There are a few other things like this in the book, but if you try not to let your “television policing” experience interfere with the story and just go with it, it will be for the better. It shouldn’t take long in reading the book for you to understand where the title of the novel comes from, and honestly, this behavior in Brantley seems a touch overdramatized at times, but that’s really the only thing I can say bad about either of them as characters. As I mentioned before, the romance plays a distant second fiddle to the mystery, and like the mystery, the romantic arc is also fairly uncomplicated. All of the drama in their quickly formed relationship comes directly from the events surrounding the investigation and their reactions to it. That being said, I do wish the author had taken more time to expand this part of the story line some.
As a whole, Flight or Fight is a decent mystery encasing a quick romance that is worth a read, particularly if you like things to be straightforward. While you might be tempted to gloss over some of the details that don’t pertain to the case—and, frankly, it’s okay if you do because there are a lot of them—if you pay attention to the important stuff, your inner gumshoe will appreciate the story.
The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of Flight or Fight in exchange for this fair and honest review.
Dirk is very much an outside kind of man. He loves travel and seeing new things. Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades. He has a Masters Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job. But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he's built. Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century-old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends.