…we're keeping our name but expanding our offerings!
For Ira Adler, former rent-boy and present plaything of crime lord Cain Goddard, stealing back the statue from Goddard’s blackmailer should have been a doddle. But inside the statue is evidence that could put Goddard away for a long time under the sodomy laws, and everyone’s after it, including Ira’s bitter ex, Dr. Timothy Lazarus. No sooner does Ira have the porcelain dog in his hot little hands, than he loses it to a nimble-fingered prostitute.
As Ira’s search for the dog drags him back to the mean East End streets where he grew up, he discovers secrets about his own past, and about Goddard’s present business dealings, which make him question everything he thought he knew. An old friend turns up dead, and an old enemy proves himself a friend. Goddard is pressing Ira for a commitment, but every new discovery casts doubt on whether Ira can, in good conscience, remain with him.
In the end, Ira must choose between his hard-won life of luxury and standing against a grievous wrong.
It’s not quite adoration, but I liked it very much!
The twists are not so twisty that you can’t see some of them coming, Lords or Crime and villains are not so credible in their vileness that they truly give you the chills, you may have to suspend disbelief once or twice, but the mystery is tight with a lot of protagonists and not one single loose end, the story is a mix of charm and action that manages to be light, entertaining and sombre (well, sort of) at the same time. The historical setting manages to be richly detailed and authentic without drowning the reader under informations and being weighed down by heavy realism.
Really, the cover sums it up perfectly : foggy atmosphere that is more sepia than dark, a story that rings true on several aspects, yet aims at entertaining more than reflecting reality, “The Affair of the Porcelain Dog” comes right from a long line of dime novels and serials. And entertain, it does.
In this regard, it owes a lot to its main character’s voice. Ira is self-centered and venal like someone who learned the hard way how to survive can be, but honest with himself and funny. His verve is smartly explained by a bit of Pygmalion magic and even though it perhaps requires a bit of faith to believe that he became so deft with language in only 2 years, it is such a pleasure to read him that I didn’t put any resistance. But more than that, beyond the mystery and the funny words, it’s Ira’s journey from survivor to grown man with the luxury of possible choices that is endearing. I really liked how this it isn’t preachy or sanctimonious, how it is as much made of unapologetic opportunism than growing awareness of right and wrong.
It has been said a lot that this story isn’t a romance. Indeed, it is not in the traditional way, but it’s nonetheless about growing feelings, about love, about a relationship that is a central point in a story where every discovery leads to another one. I wish Cain’s potential for being a truly intriguing character had been fully developped, but I guess it’s all about Ira. I enjoyed reading about them anyway.
I spent a really pleasant moment with Ira. Give it a try.