A Skyler Foxe Mystery by Haley Walsh
Review: A weak murder mystery plot and thinly developed characters mar this uneven and ultimately unsatisfactory first book in a trilogy featuring gay high school teacher Skyler Foxe, Foxe Tail by Haley Walsh.
25-year-old Skyler, not all that much older than his students, teaches literature at the same San Bernardino (California) high school he attended. Outside a club one night he discovers a young man, whose throat had been slit, later identified as the son of the high school's principal, Wesley Sherman. The investigating officer, Detective Sydney Feldman, Skyler's best friend, delivers the news to Sherman of his son's death, who later agrees to let Skyler dispose of Wesley Jr.'s possessions. A cell phone — overlooked by the police during their initial search … or mysteriously put there afterwards — leads Skyler into the young man's secret life that ultimately got him killed.
Skyler makes for a reluctant — and not overly credible — amateur sleuth, spending most of his time in reactive rather than proactive mode. The mystery aspect to the story is clearly secondary to details of Skyler's day-to-day romantic life, including the oddly conflicted and unnecessarily drawn out relationship he has with a new teacher at the school; the suspects — and there aren't many — don't present much of a whodunit puzzle for the reader. Skyler himself is something of a contradiction, a gay teacher afraid of being outed, yet one who leads a promiscuous life; there's even an informal "club" named for all his male lovers. Unfortunately, his gay friends, and even Sydney and his co-workers, are depicted as little more than caricatures, without any nuance or detail to give them depth and interest.
In the end, Foxe Tail fails to achieve either of its objectives, by not taking its mystery seriously enough and for being too awkward and unwieldy to be entertaining gay fiction.
Acknowledgment: MLR Press provided a copy of Foxe Tail for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Foxe Tail: Inland Empire, San Bernardino County, California
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Foxe Tail by Haley Walsh — A Skyler Foxe Mystery
Publisher: MLR Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2010
List Price: $14.99