Tainted Love by T. S. Hunter

Click here to buy your own copy!

From the book description:

SOME RELATIONSHIPS ARE JUST MURDER

It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town where Joe and Chris grew up.
When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as just another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why. 
Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer? 
A noirish whodunnit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer. 
Tainted Love is the first book in the Soho Noir series of cozy crime novellas.

“But we have to do something”

“I know. And we will.”

MY GOD this was a great book. From the first page, I was absolutely hooked on the story, plot, and characters – it’s amazing how attached you can get in a 125-page novella when the writing is this good. T.S. Hunter is an up-and-coming author who’s just getting started with this explosive release. Book two in the series is coming out later this year, so you can preorder your copy as soon as you’re done devouring Tainted Love. I am honored that Red Dog Press invited me to participate in this blog tour, and provided me with a free copy of the book!

Now anyone who follows me on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/wherever probably knows I’m normally a fantasy/sci-fi kind of gal. I don’t usually go outside of these genres, but I happily made an exception for Tainted Love when Red Dog Press reached out to me, and I am so glad I did. I’ll admit, the first thing that caught my eye, and what got me started on this path was the cover art:

You can imagine my confusion when this popped up on my Twitter feed – confusion that quickly turned to giggly delight when I tweeted at T.S. Hunter and Red Dog, who confirmed the cover is very intentional. Talk about eye-catching! Who would’ve known this could land me a spot on their blog tour to celebrate the publishing of Tainted Love?

After the murder of the much-beloved Chris in the beginning of the book, Joe and Russell find themselves working together, much to Russell’s chagrin, trying to solve a crime that they know the police will dismiss outright. I couldn’t help but feel my own rage at the lack of respect and blatant bigotry shown by Detective Skinner, and the officers who set up the sting on Russell to get him kicked out of the force. Even the violent bonafide gangster showed more emotion at hearing of Chris’s death than the detective did. As Joe and Russell start working together, Joe’s small town innocence (which I related to on a very personal level) pulls Russell out of his self-loathing pit of despair and into a little bit of a brighter place. Russell has the opposite effect on Joe, which may not seem like a good thing at first, but Joe is idealistic and naive at the beginning of the novella and learns some important life lessons along the way. I absolutely loved their character arcs as they navigated this new situation together – even Russell’s grumpy “I’m not looking for a new [detective] partner right now” attitude couldn’t handle the intensity of Joe’s desire for justice or his righteous view of how the situation must end.

By the middle of the book, you’re suspecting everyone and probably their mothers of murdering Chris – though, if I’m being honest, at that point I’d written off the gangster as a secret softy who probably had a stuffed animal collection and never actually did any murdering of anyone. Now the multi-millionaire that Russell glimpses from across the street? That guy has some dangerous skeletons in his closet, guaranteed. Russell definitely has a point; the violence of Chris’ murder just isn’t Tony’s style. I’m sure Tony is a guy with much more class and poise. And stuffed animals. I won’t go into detail about who actually did the whodunnit, but suffice to say, you will never see it coming.

Tainted Love also paints a truthful and painful picture of the 80s in London and the world at large. While drag queens like Patty and young men like Joe are starting to get their feet wet in the club scene, a crisis rages on the fringes of their culture – death, brutality, judgment, and homophobia subtly plague their lives and drive them to seek refuge in these underground scenes. Joe found solace in the new Chris and his London life until the violent murder of Chris changes Joe forever. Watching him grow with Russell’s bitter-tinged guidance is a reward in and of itself. The whodunnit aspect of the book is engaging, twisty, and, most importantly, shocking, but the characters themselves can be appreciated just as much as the false starts and plot twists of the murder investigations.

If you’re interested in a quick, engaging, and fast-paced read, you need to pick up a copy of Tainted Love immediately. I’m already on my second read-thru and can’t wait to find more foreshadowing and clues this time around.

Plus! There’s a giveaway happening on a few awesome pieces of book swag. Click the link below to enter a drawing for a signed copy of Tainted Love, a wonderful “Go Away I’m Reading” tote bag, a delightful rainbow button badge, and (last but certainly not least) CHOCOLATE!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b5939c611/?

Thank you again to Red Dog Press and T.S. Hunter for allowing me to take part in this blog tour! Check out the banner below for the other bloggers that have come before me (and will follow until the 25th!).

5 thoughts on “Tainted Love by T. S. Hunter

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