Stephanie Gayle's first Thomas Lynch novel, Idyll Threats, is intense and suspenseful, with a brooding, introspective hero. It's set in Idyll, Connecticut, a town whose name is ironic and mocking to Thomas Lynch. It's a police procedural with a troubled police chief. And, in reading it, it's essential to remember that this story is set in 1997, ages ago when it comes to social issues.
Thomas Lynch narrates the story of the first murder to occur in years in the small town of Idyll. He recently fled New York City after the shooting death of his partner, becoming police chief. He faces a department that doesn't trust him, a secretary that disapproves of him, and worst of all, he faces his own self-loathing. When a young woman is found shot on the local golf course, he's capable and fully prepared to handle the investigation. But, once he learns more about the victim, he realizes he has to hide his knowledge from his team. Ironically, Lynch ran into the victim just hours before her death, but he can't reveal he saw her. If he tells his investigative team that he saw her, he'll also reveal his own secret. Thomas Lynch is gay, in a community, a work place, and a time where homophobia is common. He could lose what he loves most, his job.
The investigation proceeds as Lynch carefully watches every step he makes, although he despises himself for his weakness on that fatal night, "Risking my career for a stupid fix." How does a police chief guide an investigation while keeping secrets from his officers? And, the whole time he tries to balance the case, his loneliness and secrets, and his troubled conscience about his partner's death. Lynch is a complex, intriguing man who tells his story in a matter-of-fact, candid tone.
Thomas Lynch and his deceased partner kept secrets, and remained silent when they should have spoken. He said their "partnership wouldn't survive that much truth". Lynch has a fear of exposing himself to an unforgiving world. And, now that fear threatens to ruin the resolution of a case, and destroy his career. It's Lynch that makes this an intense story, even more than the search for the murderer. Gayle's Idyll Threats is fascinating because of Thomas Lynch, a man caught in a time period, location, and, as he sees it, in lies.
Stephanie Gayle's website is www.stephaniegayle.com
Idyll Threats by Stephanie Gayle. Seventh Street Books. 2015. ISBN 9781633880788 (paperback), 279p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.