historical · lgbtqia content

REVIEW: No Good Men by Thea McAlistair

The Official Description: In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.

Just the facts: 1930s historical murder-mystery, main characters happen to be gay

No Good Men is about the lengths we go to for friends…and found family – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit:  Alex Dawson is a part-time writer and bodyguard for the Mayor. On the night Alex meets Sev… a handsome, charming man with the same secret as Alex… his mentor and father-figure, Donnie is shot. Alex is immediately caught up in needing to find out who committed the murder and took away from him the only man who was ever a father to him. The police seem to want to take Alex down, he’s lost his only source of income and he’s feeling very isolated.

I enjoyed the way the characters in this book are all connected to one another. McAlistair has plotted out an intricate novel with enough detail for the reader to figure out “who done it” without giving anything away. Being gay in the 1930s isn’t easy. Alex lives a life in which he spends a lot of time not acknowledging who he is.

Once Alex gets to know Sev… he realizes that things are far more complicated than he had initially thought. Sev is part of the local Mob family and Alex finds himself falling for a man he knows little about. This book has one of my favorite features! The fact that Alex and Sev are gay… isn’t THE plot… it’s simply part of their lives. While they struggle with being gay at a time when it is still illegal, the two men have embraced who they are and try to live as authentically as they can.

There are some wonderful characters in this book. There is a little girl named, Pearl in Alex’s life. She appears often when her boxer father is drunk and abusive … something that pulls up memories from Alex’s own past. One of the locals is Martin… a feisty and sharp doctor who was forced out of the medical field for reasons he keeps to himself. Vern is a quick-talking ruthless reporter (with a heart) who wants to get the story at almost any cost.

This lovely roster of well-developed characters weave in and out of each other’s lives as the mystery in this story is slowly unraveled. I loved the detail in this novel… it really gives the reader a feel of living in the 30s.

Strong 4-stars from me!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) graphic violence, gore, secondary character death, police brutality, homophobia, mentions of racism, mentions of sex work, mentions of domestic abuse, description of anxiety, mentions potential physical child abuse.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of No Good Men by Thea McAlistair from NineStar press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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