Gumption & Gumshoes
Title : Gumption & Gumshoes
Author : Alex Kidwell
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Paranormal
Length : 200 pages (e-book)
Published : August 21, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
August Adahy Mendez would rather be buried in the world of his detective novels or a good film noir movie than in real life. He’s overweight, undermotivated, and stuck in a dead-end job. As a Chincha, he’s part of a long line of chinchilla shifters, but the greatest accomplishment in his life so far has been moving an hour away from his close-knit herd. That all changes when August’s grandfather leaves him enough cash to pursue his dream: becoming a detective himself.
Sam Ewing is a bitter divorcé who enjoys watching football and being alone. It’s easier when his only interaction with people is when he collects rent from his office building tenants. Then August rents space from him to set up his new detective agency, and Sam is drawn to him despite his misgivings.
Sam soon finds himself involved with one of August’s cases, and the men join forces to catch their criminal. The greater challenges they face, however, are how August makes Sam want to give love a second try and how Sam makes August believe that real life might be even better than fiction.
August Adahy Mendez, Auggie, is a chinchilla shifter who was not really living his life. As a result of a lump sum left to him by his late grandfather, Auggie is able to enact his dream of becoming a private detective. He’s even got a trenchcoat and a fedora! A few months into his detective gig Auggie begins to realize it’s not as easy as Humphrey Bogart made it look. Sam Ewing hates having to go collect rent from his tenants. If they just paid on time life would be easier. He wouldn’t actually have to talk to people. After his marriage ended in a brutally bitter divorce Sam has found it best to just retreat from life and maintain his building. Although, that guy up on the fourth floor who seems to think he’s a private detective is actually pretty cute even if he seems chronically nervous and it makes his mouth run in crazy directions. Auggie has to dip into savings to pay his rent, but he’s got a case for the local dry cleaner that will take care of that problem. He just has to figure out who is responsible for the weekly deposit coming up short. It should be simple. Auggie gets the security camera footage from his client, but nothing is immediately apparent. There is a huge creepy looking guy, Jake, who works at the dry cleaners that would totally fit the bill for the thief, but Auggie is aware you don’t have to look like a thief to be a thief. He decides to stake out the store. After seeing the staff throw out the trash but leave the door ajar Auggie decides to get the trash. That’s when Jake finds Auggie digging through the dumpster behind the store. Auggie runs and Jake follows. After he gets trapped down a dead-end alley Auggie decides to shift as his chinchilla body is easier to hide. Sam sees Auggie shift.
Secrecy is an essential part of being a chinchilla shifter. Sam has to swear to not say anything for the safety of Auggie’s whole herd. The safety of all shifters. Sam has no problem swearing for Auggie. He actually finds he likes Auggie a whole lot. More than he should. His ex was a detective and he just has no interest in going back there. He does end up helping Auggie with his case against the thief at the dry cleaner. They’re able to get the trash and find some compelling evidence. Along the way to collecting more evidence they realize they could have a possible romance starting. Neither man at all understands what the other could be thinking. Auggie sees a sexy and svelte older man secure in his life whereas Sam imagines himself bitter, reclusive, and damaged goods. Sam sees a vibrant and gorgeous young man with the gumption to do what he really wanted to do with his life, and Auggie imagines himself as nothing but fat and nerdy. Neither man gives the other credit for actually knowing what they may want in a partner. Well, not in the beginning anyway. They have to resolve both their self-esteem issues as well as the case to be able to move forward with a life they want. A life not spent hiding.
I like having my preconceived notions challenged. I chose the book Gumption & Gumshoes, by Alex Kidwell, for review thinking it would be a cute little book about a vaguely neurotic chinchilla shifter with a thing for Film Noir. I expected Woody Allen from “Play it again, Sam” except the title character would be fat instead of skinny. And a chinchilla instead of Jewish. In many ways that’s exactly what I got. I also got a book rich with pathos that detailed the steps two men took to enter into a relationship despite their fears, be they realistic or not. I was quietly blown away by humorous internal dialogue rich with pop culture references and devastating personal criticisms. Auggie moved me to tears with his self loathing. That’s not to say I wasn’t affected at all by Sam, but the book was written in first person for Auggie and third for Sam. We were Auggie, terrified he wouldn’t get what he wanted because he was who he was. Regardless of the oddity of writing the characters in first and third, it worked here.
These two guys fell in love pretty fast yet it didn’t trip my insta-love switch. It came across as realistic. As realistic as a book about a chinchilla shifter can come across. They had quietly been scoping each other out for months before they finally acted on their feelings. There were also some other instances in the story that kept in line with my like of challenging my preconceived notions. Auggie and Sam simply were not at all what I expected them to be. And it was wonderful.
Rated 4.5 stars by Faye