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The Elegant Corpse

The Elegant Corpse - A.M. Riley image

So maybe I don't have long red hair. Or look like a girl. But if I was wearing headphones and going up a glass elevator, I'd be dancing like someone told me I won the internet. Or a date with a certain actor of my dreams. Anyways...

Detective Roger Corso comes back to his home to realize a corpse has been planted on his couch. And not just a normal corpse either, but a mummified one holding a leather flogger that points to his closeted BDSM lifestyle. Thus begins an investigation that will bring Roger and his partner, Mary Anne, through a mystery that's been decades in the making.

What I find very fascinating is A.M. Riley's ability to create this dichotomy in gay culture between the early '80s and present time. It's that feeling of rifling through an old photo album and seeing the faded pictures of times long past. Roger is only in his early 40s, but it's interesting to read about a mystery where the main character has to look far in his past and present to investigate.

There's also the author's portrayal of BDSM. I am, by no means, an expert on BDSM. I can't attest to things like how "authentic" it is in fiction. However, A.M. Riley's portrayal of it as a lifestyle in this book, as opposed to a kink, makes me want to believe that she has it down pretty well. At the least, it's refreshing to read about it in this context. If you are not a fan of BDSM, I would look elsewhere since it's a heavy element in this book in terms of relationships and the investigation.

The characters in this book, mainly Roger, Mary Anne and Sean (the corpse's younger brother), were all pleasant characters to read. Roger is the dominant partner in his interaction with Sean. He also doesn't like cussing. Sean was the "never knows when to quit" kind of guy, and was kind of bratty at times. Mary Anne is the loyal, but kick-ass, partner to Roger. What can I say? Maybe nothing super original with the cast of characters, but it just worked.

The book also managed to balance the mystery and romance aspect well, but tended to tip more towards the former. I also wished that there was more time devoted to certain things such as knowing more about Patrick, but overall it was a damn good read.

Basically, if you are looking for a well written BDSM book with a murder mystery (that doesn't pull it's punches - there's no fluff here!), then the Elegant Corpse is for you.