The Back Passage by James Lear

The Back Passage, James Lear, 2006

My favorite quote: “Youth and athleticism are a wonderful combination: not even a sudden murder can quell the storm in a young man’s flannels.”

Most interesting characters: Mitch Mitchell, a well-hung insatiable stud who collects clues at almost the same rate he collects steamy sexual encounters with other well-hung insatiable studs 

Opening scene: It’s a hot day in 1925 and Mitch Mitchell and his fellow guests (many of them also well-hung insatiable studs) are on a country house weekend preparing to play a game of “Sardines” with their hosts, Sir James Eagle and his wife, Lady Caroline. Not thrilled with the idea of playing “Sardines,” Mitch and his friend, the not-so-impenetrable-after-all Harry “Boy” Morgan, are squeezed into a broom closet under the stairs where they soon find themselves not-so-accidentally in flagrante delicto. And then, right at a peak moment, a murder is announced! Right away, James Lear sets the tone for the rest of the book — and so begins the steamy descent into … THE BACK PASSAGE … 

The gist: The studly Mitch Mitchell and his studly Watson-like sidekick, Boy Morgan, are banging their heads — and other body parts — trying to figure out who the murderer is. The Back Passage is a campy hilarious spoof on traditional murder mysteries that reads a little like an X-rated Downton Abbey. Think Agatha Christie meets Fifty Shades of Grey — but really graphic. Oh, and gay. In the Back Passage, James Lear, ahem, inserts more man-action than you can shake a sticky marital aid at. I mean, seriously. Who knew gay guys got so much ass (literally)? Maybe they’re onto something after all …  

Greatest strengths: Despite the non-stop sex that takes place in The Back Passage (I’ll do anything to say ‘The Back Passage’) James Lear manages to write a pretty coherent — and hilarious — murder mystery that works — as long as you’re able to let logic fly out the window, anyway. Long story short, there’s a pretty decent whodunit under all that whodunwho 

Standout achievements: I’ve always said I’ll read pretty much anything, and it’s true. But gay porn? — *shrugs* — Why not? James Lear’s The Back Passage is the first book of its kind that I’ve read (it’s also the last but that’s no fault of the author or the book itself) and I found it to be fun, entertaining, and … actually kinda cute in its way. As for a standout achievement, however, I’d have to go with its clever prose. Let it never be said that James Lear doesn’t know how to turn a phrase — usually in some unexpected pervy direction. But still. Seriously, The Back Passage is full of witty quips and powerful (albeit scandalous) imagery. Not surprising when you learn that James Lear is actually a journalist (‘James Lear’ is a pseudonym for Rupert Smith)    

Fun Facts: The Back Passage is book one in James Lear’s Mitch Mitchell Mysteries. The series continues with the (equally audacious) titles, The Secret Tunnel, A Sticky End, and The Sun Goes Down. I haven’t read any of the others, but after writing this review and remembering how much fun it was, I probably should …  

Other media: Although society has come a long way, there’s just no way The Back Passage could be a movie. Or a video game. A porno flick, sure, but a mainstream movie? We haven’t come that far, folks

Additional thoughts: One day, as I was innocently strolling through a bookstore somewhere, I found myself scandalized to see a naked man on the cover of a book. Not just naked, but almost showing his peen. Gasping, I clutched my pearls and stormed right over to read the title — and quickly found myself further aghast. ‘The Back Passage,’ it said. ‘The BACK PASSAGE?’ Very clever, thought I, and of course, I had no choice but to pick it up and thumb its pages. What I found was one filthy scene after another after another. After another. Murder mystery meets gay porn? How unseemly! How utterly shameless!’ Naturally, I bought it and pretty much read it one sitting. And once I was able to let go of my (mostly feigned) mortification, I have to say, I rather enjoyed it. Once the shock wore off, I did eventually become a little bored with all the sex scenes but even so, I kept reading … and much chuckling ensued 

Hit or Miss: Hit

Haunt me:

Plumb the Depths of The Back Passage

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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