Title: The Next
Author: Rafe Haze
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Released: 23rd April 2014
Genre: M/M (contemporary / crime)
He never thought he’d become one of the agoraphobic sludges of New York City—trapped with one view of a courtyard and a head full of wrenching memories. Dumped, disconnected, and depressed, he surrenders to spying on the neighbors as his only entertainment.
Until one day, without warning, the lascivious and suspicious behavior of the closeted lawyer in the huge apartment across the courtyard leads him to a spine-tingling conclusion… his neighbor is a murderer.
Perhaps collaborating with the beautiful and fierce Detective Marzoli to catch the killer can finally breathe life back into a man suffocated by the stranglehold of a tragic past. Unless the killer across the way decides to make him… The Next.
Video Guest Post
Rafe talks about the book and reads an excerpt of The Next for us.
New York City with all it’s life, characters and secrets all observed through an apartment window. Well, I guess that’s the problem with living in large cities in close proximity to each other, but this provides an excellent back drop for a crime scene and a great M/M psychological thriller.
As already mentioned in the synopsis it is like reading a version of Hitchcock’s film The Rear Window and comparisons can certainly be drawn. But for me The Next is much more than this, it is almost a character study of various people, with various lives and backgrounds, all living next to or on top of each other in their NYC apartments, all individual but also all connected by the City that is New York. They all have their story to tell and Rafe does this excellently through the eyes of an agoraphobic, failing songwriter whose name we never learn, but experience everything in first person through his eyes. Again another nice plot device to keep things mysterious, but also gives the reader the chance to really experience things through the eyes of this character.
Banged up in his flat in NYC with the curtains mostly drawn the only contact he has with the outside world are the few people that call on him and the people he observes through his window on the other side of the courtyard. He is a failing songwriter who hasn’t produced anything for a while now, dejected and dumped by his girlfriend, agoraphobic and depressed, this guy is in a seriously sorry mess. He is obviously a big time curtain twitcher, but through this develops an insight into the comings a goings of his neighbours. I loved the way that you share in the lives of these characters, but through the eyes of the person observing them. A kind of voyeurism where you can intrude but keep your distance at the same time, like being a fly on the wall.
A new neighbour moves in to the flat immediately above after the previous tenant leaves, or so it is thought until Detective Marzoli turns up one day and he is informed that the previous tenant has been found murdered…oooopss! As is the case with any detective everyone is a suspect until proven innocent and I loved the psychological cat and mouse game the two MCs enter into, pussy footing around each other, but trying to catch each other out and looking for the chinks that could open up more information.
We all revert to our fourteen-year-old instincts when it comes to love. We learn to subvert them and modify our behaviour, but the instincts remain pubescent in their raw state no matter how old we get. If I wasn’t feeling love, then why did I feel capricious, kind of bitchy and totally hormonal?
Well, the new neighbour also seems to disappear without a word, but only after he sees the shenanigans of the new neighbour with one of the existing ones across the courtyard take place in front of his eyes through his apartment window. This window almost becomes like a TV screen and you are involved in watching a reality show. When the new neighbour doesn’t appear after several days then suspicions are raised and after some more observation he’s sure that foul play is taking place right under his nose. Not only does Detective Marzoli become more involved in the investigation, but also proves to be good for his condition. He finds a connection to this detective on a whole different level to anything he has ever experienced before. The sexual tension and games of avoidance they play at the beginning are palpable, again another typical case of not wanting to accept what is right in fron of their noses. It takes an outspoken neighbour to do that for them. Detective Marzoli typifies perfection, physically and intellectually, but as we find out later no one is ever that perfect and this makes for a very moving first love scene between the two of them. Yes, I had tears in my eyes too, it wasn’t only Marzoli. I didn’t really find it a GFY novel either, yes the relationship with the girlfriend Joahnna is over, but then I reckon it really never got started.
As much as chicks like to look at men’s butts, many never really know what to do with them once they’ve got them. Thus, Johanna approached my bare ass with as much enthusiasm as she would a toilet plunger or an electric lawnmower. Marzoli, on the other hand, pried his hand between my cheeks and pressed upwards on my hole through my underwear and pants. Holy shit!
I felt such agony for the MC, agoraphobic, girlfriend had left him, broke, destitute, depressed and almost on the edge of suicidal; it must really be a shitty existence to say the least. But Detective Marzoli appears to be the cure / medicine that is needed and he starts to look for, if not find more, excuses to get the detective to come and visit. ooohhh, the sexual tension between these two is brilliant. Loved it! Both avoiding each other, dancing around the real issue, but you know exactly what they both wish for. It takes a turn in the investigation to get these two together, but it was well worth the build up and wait. Also the murder-mystery is well thought out and keeps you interested and guessing all the way. Considering the whole action until the very end is based on observations taking place through a window it is incredibly well done to say the least.
You are taken back to the not so savoury childhood past of the MC and his experiences as a child with his brother Paul. This was handled extremely nicely, no jolting flashbacks that wrench you from one point in time to the next, but rather through the thought processes and episodes this guy would have during his current situation. Past and present is threaded and woven into each other so perfectly you really are not aware of the time shift. So well done to Rafe on this one. Rarely have I read such smooth transitions. So we get two stories in one as this guys childhood had been horrific to say the least and uncovering the mental block that he has kept around a number of his very traumatic childhood experiences become key in his recovery process as well as Marzoli. The past also neatly ties up with the events in present when the book comes to it’s heart stopping conclusion, and shedding these mental blocks and enables him quite literally to save Marzoli’s life.
As the depression cloud starts to lift and he finds hope and love in Marzoli, so does his view on the neighbours. Rather than seeing their more negative aspects he starts to see them through different eyes and in a more positive and sympathetic way. Again I really liked this shift, for me personally a perfect symbolisation of the cloud-lifting of his own personal situation.
Two days ago, I couldn’t have given two flying shits about the neighbours. Who would have guessed how transformative meeting Marzoli would turn out to be?
This is seriously one humdinger of a debut novel. Rafe has a very distinctive writing style that for me personally took a bit of getting used to at the beginning. To be very honest I found the first six to seven chapters a little difficult and somewhat confusing to read and digest. Rafe possesses an extensive vocabulary that stretches the reader. Therefore, the sentence construction and vocabulary felt to be a little reiterative and tautological for my own personal tastes. However, after about chapter seven things settled down nicely and I was in the book’s grip and oh boy did things really take off! So I can imagine some people maybe not wishing to continue after the first couple of chapters, but all good things take time and all I’m going to say is, please don’t do this!!!! You will truly miss out on something truly wonderful and will kick yourselves later for it.
This book for me is a psychological thriller at its’ best within the M/M genre, it lets you get into the mind of the MC and how he perceives things and others through his window. I just loved the whole thing.
So………. review is finished, time for me to do a bit of curtain twitching to see what my neighbours are up to ~ as you may never know!
About the Author
Rafe Haze was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives on the west side of New York City. Having worked for the legal compliance industry, fashion industry, music industry, art industry, and flesh industry (the most interesting people on earth have), his most life-changing employment was teaching Meisner Technique of Acting. He wrote himself out of one whopping funk with his debut novel The Next, and is ecstatically thankful for the entire, messy, beautiful cadence.
Rafe refuses to be handcuffed to one discipline only: he writes classical music for orchestra and small ensemble, country music songs, musical theater, plays, screenplays, and digs two-stepping, line dancing, and West Coast Swinging. Be it words, notes, or movement, the emotional origin, schlep, and endpoints are equally compelling and satisfying.
Rafe is grateful to his twin brother (the straight one) who continues to make the slicing through this rambling, thorny life worthwhile.
Contact The Author
Rafe will be giving away a signed paperback copy of The Next. All you have to do is enter the draw below and good luck!!