ARC Review: Murder Once Seen by J.T. Hall

murderonceseen_600x900Title: Murder Once Seen (The Oddities #1)

Author: J.T. Hall

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Expected Release Date: December 12, 2016

Genre: M/M Romance, Paranormal

Page/word count: 327,  ~89,000

Format: eBook, Paperback

Rating: 3.5 Stars rounded UP

 

synopsis

In the city of Nis, things often aren’t what they seem.

Derwin is a bounty hunter gifted with the Oddity of superhuman strength and agility—perfect for hunting down fugitives and demons who roam the streets. One killed his boyfriend two years ago, and Derwin won’t stop until he finds out who. Police suspect it was someone he sent to prison, but he can’t shake the idea that they’re missing something.

Elliot is a rentboy who’s been living on the streets since his parents disowned him. He mistrusts everyone and, given his uncontrolled ability to Read Objects and a client list that includes a major gang boss, despairs of ever having a normal life.

Derwin and Elliot meet in a storm of lust. Derwin’s Oddity is fed by the pain of others, but he only wants what’s freely given. Elliot loves pain, but needs safety and a way off the streets before he can allow it. They may be able to solve each other’s problems . . . if they can survive long enough to work together.


 

♦ Personal Thought ♦

Warnings: the story contains dub-con/non-con, drug abuse, emotional abuse, explicit violence, and sexual assault.

There is potential in this series. For something that I – rather casually – trivialized as an easy and steamy read, the story actually packed more than that. Set in dystopian United Federation of America (formerly USA) era at the city of Nis, Murder Once Seen told the story of two Oddities – people with special abilities – trying to solve a two year old murder case while dodging and fighting monsters (in human and non human forms) and demons.

This is the first J.T. Hall‘s book for me and conveniently the start of a new series. As an opening entry, I like that there was no complicated world building in this book. The little detail of the world unfurled here and there; it left plenty for the author to explore or divulge in the next installments of the series.

The main characters of the book, who are the two voices in the story, were Derwin Bryant – a bounty hunter – and Elliot Leed – a rentboy. Derwin’s oddity fed from other’s pain and Elliot relished from it, so when the two met it was sort of match of heaven! But the ghost of Derwin’s old boyfriend and his unsolved murder stood between them; making the budding romance between our two heroes more complicated.

I loved the developing attachment between Derwin and Elliot; the struggle to protect or seek assurances, yet acknowledged themselves to face fact. This was severely tested when Elliot had to service a powerful client while already got close to Derwin. That was not a pretty scene. In fact, a lot of emotional turmoil I experienced reading this book had to do with what Elliot went through.

As for Derwin, as much as I liked him, I rather begrudged him his carelessness in handling the investigation. I mean, considering his occupation and oddity, I expected more from him. One could argue the case was too personal and thus affect his judgement. But, still! The whodunnit aspect was almost glaring there.

The way things folded, I consider this a HFN story. Or a happy beginning. It doesn’t necessarily have cliff-hanging ending, but the last chapter presenting aspects that could jeopardize our MCs in the long run.

To find out, perhaps we shall find out on the next entry to the series. I – for one – can’t wait!

Advanced copy of the book is kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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