-Review by Kazza K
**THIS REVIEW LAYS OUT THE BIGGEST SPOILER, DO NOT READ IT IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON READING THIS BOOK**
Okay, so I had a review pretty close to nutted out for this book and then the ending came and that all went out the darned window. How does that happen? I mean, come on, its just an ending. I'm not sure what to think about The Closed Mouth: A Quinn and Dave Gay Mystery now. I'm flummoxed. I want to give it the original rating but I just can't. I feel torn but I have to call it as I feel it.
Brief synopsis - Quinn and Dave (from Garnetville) are still together months after the close of that saga and are in a relationship? of sorts. They are not your typical couple. Anyway, Quinn hassles Dave into going home with him for Thanksgiving. Dave doesn't want to go but Quinn is a force of nature so off they trundle. When they are there a murder has occurred that involves an old crush of Quinn's, Hector, which utilises Dave's journalism skills. It also gives Dave and Quinn a chance to see more than just the Cetino household, actually escape the Centino household into something more normal, like a murder.
So, with that said, let me say what I think worked well in this book and what didn't, and why.
What worked for me -
Dave and Quinn. They are an amazingly funny, off beat, snarky, bitchy, unlikely pair of gay guys in some sort of weird-arsed relationship? - I love that they really can't be pigeon-holed. There are never any declarations of love in the books, it's more about sex (though this is not an erotic book), coping, especially for Dave, and solving a mystery/crime. Quinn is a handful and a half. But he is hilarious in the way he bounces off Dave and off his own nuclear family. But Dave is meant for Quinn. Who the hell else has the wit, apathy? patience? and cock sucking skills to deal with the human tornado that is Quinn Centino. I would have murdered Quinn and buried him out the back by now, but that's just me, not Dave.
The writing is good, absolutely laugh out loud funny. E.M Mispiel writes these two young men in such an absurdly hilarious way...but they are always believable (grumbles, well nearly always) and are so three dimensional in every way. Although I really enjoyed the writing, overall it is not as strong as Garnetville. But Garnetville is one of my all-time favourite books, so it was going to be a tall order for The Closed Mouth to live up to it.
The Centino (Quinn's) family is priceless. They are beyond doubt crazier than my family, marginally, which is no mean feat. They say the most cringe-worthy things to one another, and, as they grew up, played horrible pranks on one another, they are freaking hilarious, they make your head spin. There are no flashbacks but we get to see a lot about Quinn growing up, just recounts in very well written moments, often including the unwilling Dave.
They are always at each other and can take and give better than most -
"I'm getting cremated when I die so you cant steal any of my organs!" Quinn told him and pulled away.
"Like I'll be waiting for you to die," Caleb said.
Quinn deafened them all by yelling, "Mom! Caleb's after my organs again."
"Would you like me all over your boyfriend?" Quinn directed this at Emily, who was unimpressed by his threat. So Quinn added, "I would turn that frat boy gay so fast I would make your head spin.
Emily didn't even look away from the TV.
"Anything you can do to that boy to make him more interesting is fine by me," she said.
And Dave is the constant butt of size jokes, as in Dave is shorter than everyone in the Centino household, and Quinn, and the rest of the family, is always letting Dave know it -
"Dave never lets anything go. It's why I like him. And for his ass. And his cock sucking skills. I just wish every day that he was taller."
Quinn grabbed his own crotch roughly. Dave could tell it was bulging.
"You been thinking about me?"
"No. I've been thinking about tall guys!" Quinn claimed.
But the recollections of how they all felt, and they get a POV, about their son/brother being hurt in Garnetville is an insight into how much they care, despite them voicing (very evilly) their opinions to the contrary. And at the back of all of their minds is the fact that Dave was there, with Quinn, when their obnoxious, tattling, strange baby brother/son was hurt.
The thoughts that are well written about Dave not having a large family, his dad died when he was young, his mum and Dave were it. The Centino's are a loud, in your face family and I liked the way the author wrote that. The way Dave sees things of importance between their households is subtle more often than not.
Lily, although only quickly in the book near the end, is the perfect Quinn-hag - the way they have loving disdain for each other, talk at each other, the strength of the individual characters, is perfect. Wish she was in it more instead of Hector
I loved Dave's acceptance of having this guy trail after him in Garnetville, which Quinn did. Dave didn't ask Quinn to come, he just Quinned himself into the journey back to Dave's home town and here, in this book, he Quinned himself all over Dave until Dave is coming home with him for Thanksgiving and helping out an old crush of Quinn's in a tight spot.
I liked when Dave spoke to his newly sober mother and his thoughts on it. A changed family dynamic is not always an easy one. Just a few lines/paragraphs in the book, but so well handled.
Quinn's idea of showing Dave the sights of home was via everywhere he shtupped someone - In Quinn's life, boyfriend wasn't a person, it was a well populated category. It also had meaning for Dave - growing up in a small town full of rampant homophobia didn't allow him to have the experiences that Quinn did coming from the city.
What didn't work for me -
Hector. I know he was the device for the mystery component, he was, at best, two dimensional and insipid in amongst some incredibly strong, well drawn characters. He was just a means to an end. A boring prop. Mycroft Shumaker was dead in Garnetville and he was more alive than Hector.
Quinn had constant explanation marks after his words. I know he is a loud, out there kind of guy, I get that. Still, I don't like exclamation mark abuse.
The mystery component was not as well written as Garnetville. It was not bad, but the story concentrated heavily on Quinn, Quinn's family, and Dave and Quinn's original brand of relationship.
The resolution of the mystery was anti-climactic.
And the nail in the coffin for me personally....
.......THE ENDING. The paragraph-from-nowhere kind of cliffhanger killed it for me. A paragraph threw the book into total disarray for me and took it from 4 stars to less. I'm all for something intriguing happening, something to throw me, but this was not well executed. It was lazy writing to just break them up like that. It was a total disconnect for the reader. It didn't fit with what came before it. This series is not like others. Wrong series to be doing this on. I don't want to suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, have these guys pigeonholed into a romance cliché series style of ending. I don't want Dave pulling a Scarlett O'Hara right at the end. He may as well have said, "After all, tomorrow is another day." That is bad enough. What makes it even worse is that the author, E.M Mispiel, tells us that there will be a prequel and then a mystery/reunion book. NO. FREAKING. WAY.**** I will not be buying a prequel then wait for a reunion. Wrong order for this reader. I am not reading a prequel about them, constantly thinking, "Dave and Quinn are NOT together...no longer snarking off one another, no longer being random, my kind of crazy, getting to know one another more, having weird sex, doing weird-arse, stupid things....together." Nope, no way. I won't be reading the series the way it is outlined as happening. I understand these are not my characters, as much as I love them, and it is not my writing, so I don't have a right to tell an author what to do, but I have a right to be upset and to not buy them. Never have I voiced that before, that's how pissed off I am!!
*** The author contacted me after this review, with much grace I might add. They let me know that the prequel/sequel is not about the MC's of the first two books, which changes my perspective on the prequel/sequel. I will now be reading it because E M Mispiel is worth reading. I'm still sad about my Dave and Quinn ending, no change, but there may be hope.
There is no doubt that E.M. Mispiel is a very good writer. Even if you don't read The Closed Mouth, which is well titled by the way, cerebral but good, then do yourself a favour and read Garnetville. You don't have to read it, as this book can be read as a standalone, but it would help the reader get a handle on Dave and Quinn's offbeat relationship. This is a funny, funny book and I laughed so hard throughout until a spanner was thrown into a fun read. I do have this place of strong affection for Dave and Quinn. They are written cleverly by a talented author and the book was, by and large, a decent read. But the ending didn't do it any favours and was not for me. I'm also not happy about the order of the books to follow, it makes no sense to me. Maybe I am in the minority and people will look past the ending in a way I could not. My blog partner, Cindi, gave this 5 stars. Same book, different outlooks. I would have given this 4 stars until the end, bear this in mind as you read my review, the book is a decent piece of LGBT fiction but I'm personally pissed off. I've slept on it, I've written a new review, which can often change my mind, but, no, I still feel the same.....
2.75 Sadly Pissed Off Stars