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This is not my first time in reviewing this series, Cole McGinnis Mystery. I reviewed the first and second book on October 7, 2012. I recommend reading the first two novel before the third, Dirty Laundry. I also recommend reading those novels prior to this review.
For the record: I was given this book in advance by the author for review, however it does not affect my rating score.
Dirty Laundry opens shortly after the ending of book two, Dirty Secret. Both Cole and Jae deal with family troubles in the beginning of this installment. Jae discovers his younger sister on his doorstep and Cole’s Japanese half-brother suddenly appears in town to meet the family.
Meanwhile, Cole takes a new case with a cagey fortune-teller and some untimely deaths. As usual, Cole quickly gets drawn into the danger. Can their relationship survive another drama?
Much of the character descriptions I made for book one and two continue in book three. Cole is a man who devotes everything to his friends and family. His father and step-mother have disowned him because of his sexuality and only his brother and sister-in-law remain. Cole’s previous boyfriend was brutally murdered and Cole was left with both emotional and physical scars. Now, risks his heart again with Jae, but that relationship remains turbulent at best.
In many ways Jae remains a mystery. We only see him through Cole’s eyes. Jae struggles to keep his a hold of his family, at the risk of his relationship with Cole and his own happiness.
In typical gay romances we see men who are “out” or they are “closeted”, but rarely do we find a lead who doesn’t want to be gay. That is a more complex situation, is it not, to accept that he is gay destroys Jae’s current world. A portion of this series is about how Jae discovers if Cole’s love is catalyst enough for change.
I find Jae one of the most complex characters I have ever read.
My previous thoughts on the series theme are found here. But in Dirty Laundry, I discovered it is not just about sacrifice, but about love. What happens when the past sacrifices you made just don’t seem worth it for true love? At what point do you have to make a stand for what is truly important to you? What happens when you can’t? A quote from Cole that I found moving:
….”I’d want them to be loved by someone who gave a shit about them. Because that’s what love is. That person… that one person that makes you feel like you can do any damned thing you want to do really giving a shit about you deep down inside of their soul. That’s love.”
So, for me, this book was all about love. But what happens when you just can’t accept that love?
As with my previous review, I still consider the Korean culture an important aspect of the story. As described in this series, the option of being “out” is not always a feasible option for eastern cultures such as Korean. Rhys Ford takes the closeted aspect and twists it. While this follows a ” tropey” topic in m/m fiction, this novel has a distinct feel. I believe how Dirty Laundry is crafted provides a deeper depiction than other authors have provided in the past.
Another strong aspect was the mystery. On most “mystery” romance books (all types), I can figure out the “who done it” way in advance. But Rhys Ford manages to hide the truth through many red herrings that damn, I followed right along. I think how the author succeeds here is in only seeing Cole’s perspective. But it works marvelously.
What could be better?
I really can’t see questioning anything about this book. We only receive Cole’s perspective, and that can be frustrating at times. I understand why the author chooses to do so, but I really want to get into Jae’s brain sometimes. I do not want to spoil anything, but we are left with a cliffhanger at the end of the novel. You should be used to it from reading the other stories.
The relationship is a complex one, between Jae and Cole. It is something that cannot be answered in one book, which is why this series is such a success. Ford gives us the time and space to fully discover both characters, rather than rushing through it in one. I loved this series, one of my favorites and I am very grateful to the author for showing it to me.
I look forward to discovering more about our devoted Cole and our haunted Jae.