Book Reviews

Tony's Dream: A Gay Tale of Desire, Deceit & Death in Montreal by Patrick Doyle

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 14-October-2020

Book Blurb

Tony is an art curator. He's bright, ambitious, and unlucky in love. Wanting to start a new life, he applies for jobs around the world and is hired by a prestigious museum to work on a major exhibition on a legendary artist. He's thrilled until he shows up for work. The place is a landmine of conflicts, personal agendas, and dark insinuations.

But there is a ray of light in Tony's new life. He meets a struggling young artist and they fall in love. Jeff is beautiful, talented, shy — and terrified. When Tony finds out why, he's terrified too. Then staff members begin to die and disappear and, because of his troubled past and suspicious behavior, Jeff is the prime suspect.

Suspecting a setup and determined to protect his lover, Tony starts an investigation of his own. As he stumbles upon one nasty secret after another, he counts on love to pull him through. But not everyone wants him to succeed and, as he searches for the truth behind the deaths and disappearances, he has to learn what's real and what's not. Or Jeff could be lost to him forever.


Book Review

Well, now I’m stuck! How do I review a light/slight mystery book without (a) giving away too much of the plot, or (b) revealing too much of the key characters’ secrets, or (c) pedantically waxing philosophical, but without any particular point? How about I do my best and you let me know what you think: the reviewees criticizing the reviewer?


The blurb, above, provides the necessary bare facts. As is often true in pulp mysteries, the atmosphere strongly affects the reader’s acceptance. Mr. Doyle promptly introduces us to Montreal and Mamma (the Montreal Museum of Modern Art). Both are quite monochromatic. The museum is blindingly white, its facade almost without interesting architectural relief: it is “resolutely anonymous.” Montreal, in winter, is dark - its trees barren and casting “oblique shadows across the dead grass.” The hero, Tony (on our behalf), experiences the unease that is intended to foreshadow the events to come. Author Doyle seems to have plumbed the genre to attain some melange of noir, Agatha Christie (more of that later), and, perhaps, “Waiting for Godot”. The opening is well-tinged with surreality, which will either engage you or make you quickly switch to the Sunday funnies. If you are looking for something with only marginal logic, something otherworldly – welcome home.


Mr. Doyle adeptly strips the museum of any real physical representation, as the characters are merely permitted to exist within. Yet, Montreal in winter, cold, emotionally unrelatable, and difficult in which to move, becomes a perfect paragon for the events into which we are submerged.


Formula still rules. Characters are introduced seriatim, parsed to make them idiosyncratic and (à la Agatha Christie) are often quizzically eliminated. Innocent words bear atmospheric dread: “Take care,’ she said as she walked away. It sounded less like a courteous remark and more like a warning to watch out for blunt instruments.” And, following through with formula, there is almost instant love and some tinges of the inexplicable (such as Tony’s romantic counterpart assuming that particular ice skates will fit him. What marvelous perspicacity!) 


There is sex, so some of you need to keep one hand available – but, in truth, it is either more likely shown by inference or by recollection. 


‘Tony’s Dream’ has some shortcomings. It is a procedural, without enough procedure to engage the picky reader. Towards the denouement, the novel contains the requisite recap, lest you inadvertently skipped a few pages. And, regrettably, Tony may just be wrong, when he says: “I’ve read a lot of crime novels. Don’t laugh! … They can teach you a lot about human behavior.”


It passingly passes the time. 





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 158 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 02-September-2020
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link