Saturday, 22 June 2013

Directing Traffic, Charley Descoteaux

-Review by Kazza K

Directing Traffic by Charley DescoteauxNeil Sedwick is visiting a coastal Oregon town in memory of his partner, Lloyd. It has been twenty-three months, three weeks, and two days since his partner of eighteen years, Lloyd's, death. He is going though known rituals - eating, shopping, walking on the beach - like he's done before with Lloyd. He is struggling to let go and to move on -

Another part of the ritual was to find a kitschy souvenir that fit with a theme. His feet stopped when he realized he wasn't sure what the theme should be. Remembrance? Moving on? Nothing seemed to fit. His past rode on his shoulders everywhere he went, and despite what he told his friends, he didn't want to move on.

While Neil is out shopping for kitsch souvenirs an older man drops to the sidewalk and Neil goes to his aid, giving him CPR and making sure someone calls 911. When the paramedics turn up, Neil is so engrossed in helping this man he nearly doesn't stop. The police turn up, Neil gives a statement, then he takes in the full scene - the ambulance, the paramedics, the younger auburn-haired man, who is obviously a relative, a heart attack - and it all takes on more than a sympathetic feel for Neil.

Not long after, the auburn-haired man turns up to thank Neil personally for saving his uncle. Uncle Ray is more than just an uncle to Tyler, he is like a father to him. This follows with Tyler asking Neil out to dinner, but Neil isn't sure. He doesn't feel like doing anything with anyone else, however he finds himself suggesting having lunch with the attractive and obviously shaken Tyler.

Things move swiftly after lunch, and a game of pretty ordinary pool, and they end up in bed together with Tyler leading the way for the unsure Neil.

Neil is thirty eight doesn't work. Lloyd was an older lawyer, fifty eight, and had taken care of Neil. He has been thinking about becoming a teacher. Tyler is thirty four and is a teacher who is out of work - budget cuts.

What worked and what didn't work for me -

Some of the writing was absolutely charming -

It'd been a long time since he held someone while they slept, and a sea change swept through his own shivering body when Ty snuggled against his chest. For the past two years, his tide had been going farther and farther out. In that moment it started to come back in.

Uncle Ray was this incredibly sharp character and a resolute matchmaker. I just would have liked to know why he was more of a father figure than an uncle.

Neil was sweet. I liked that, but for thirty eight he had done very little with his life, apart from the first aid/CPR course after Lloyd died of a heat attack. It is hard for me to imagine a thirty eight year old man, no children, just staying at home.

Ben, Neil's friend, was a nice character I wanted to know more about him. I found myself hoping he would be with Neil, not Ty.

Tyler. Hmm, I couldn't take to him. He blew hot and cold - keen, wanting, definite about being with Neil one moment, then down right rude and distancing the next. And the reasons Uncle Ray gave didn't cut it as enough cause for Tyler to behave the way he did towards Neil.

The letter that was found in Lloyd's Mercedes was written as if to say - "See, Lloyd wasn't a perfect partner, so you can like Neil being with Ty." No, no, no. Besides, I wanted to know what the letter contained, not just second-hand interpretation, as diplomatically handled as it was by Uncle Ray.

The processing of emotions that Neil is feeling is well done. That he is now coming to the conclusion that he has to do more with his life. It's a shame that that meant being with another man and not sorting himself out first - he'd only ever been with Lloyd, up until now, been kept, and is inexperienced and unsure. 

Technically the writing was good.

Overall -

There was some very nice writing in Directing Traffic. For me the characters were not three dimensional enough to make me love the book. I did, however, enjoy it.  If you like a quick read with some nice writing, a person overcoming grief and one who has issues of his own, if you like a HFN ending, then this book could be for you.
3.5 Almost But Not Quite Stars

 This book was supplied to me by the publisher, Dreamspinner Press, in return for an honest review


  1. Wow, you read and reviewed this one quick. :)

    Nice review. What didn't work for you wouldn't have worked for me as well. I can just tell. However, the book does look good so I will have to add it to my list.

    1. It was easy reading :) I needed that. The book is technically well written with some really lovely touches, throughout, but just fell a bit flat for me.