Friday, January 8, 2016

Icarus Ascending by Lee James + Interview


Icarus Ascending by Lee James

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from publisher; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Kirk MacGregor loves to win—whether through his critically-acclaimed oil paintings or on the job as the resident detective of his father's prestigious law firm.

In the most perplexing investigation of his career, MacGregor searches for the truth behind the death of rock star Brent Hunter. But a phone call convinces Austin Hunter that his brother is alive and safe in a wilderness hideout. Or is it all an elaborate, deadly confidence game?

MacGregor's investigation takes him down a twisting trail of dead-end leads, lethal lies, and a string of homicides. Sparks crackle as Kirk and Austin take a wild ride into the underbelly of the City of Angels, where nothing ever seems too strange or horrendous. As the death count rises, MacGregor is running out of time in finding a cunning contract killer and the person who hired him.

Kirk MacGregor seldom loses. But there are dangers—and costs—in flying too close to the sun.

Review: I was excited to read James' novel, Icarus Ascending, because I really like a good mystery, and one that mixes in some romance as well is extra nice! This book definitely had me questioning characters and wondering about people's motives. Rock Star Brent Hunter supposedly died on an airplane, but his brother Austin is certain he's alive...as he's heard from Brent over the phone. The Hunter family bring the case to Kirk MacGregor, who soon finds himself wrapped up in the lives of the Hunter clan - one where secrets really do reign.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. I wouldn't say it kept me glued to the pages, but I never figured out the whole web of mysteries and lies that surrounds this book. As its the first in a new series, I'm certainly curious to see how things progress and where MacGregor goes from here. Icarus Ascending could have easily been a stand-alone novel, but you do grow invested in the characters and the ones that make it out alive (not entirely over-the-top) are sure to leave you curious about their future plans.

There was enough romance for those that like the addition to a good mystery, but it's definitely more of a suspenseful book than one full of love and lust, which works for me! I think the mix worked fairly well, though I am sad about some of the turns the book took. I won't go into detail - you'll have to read to find out!

Interview with Lee James:
LA Detective Series - learn more

1. Icarus Ascending was originally published as Errors and Omissions. What prompted the title change, and how do you feel the new one fits better?


First, permit me to say I enjoy reading Shooting Stars' reviews, and I pounced on your offer for an interview, thank you. I remember my first trip to London, seeing road signs such as, "Give Way," as opposed to the United States' brusque, "YIELD," notices in busses reading, "Mind Your Head," in contrast to our "Watch Your Head, and store clerks calling me, "Lovy."  I appreciate British civility, which is standard in your reviews.

Now, to your question. There are several reasons why I wanted a second edition of  Errors and Omissions. First, after E&O was published, several readers and friends asked me if I planned to write a series of private detective novels. Such was not my plan. By the time I had my next crime noir novel in about its umpteenth draft, I saw the potential for a Los Angeles private detectives series. Along came Icarus Ascending, with revisions facilitating a series. In addition, the second edition is approximately 8k words lighter than E&O; although the characters , plot, and story lines remain the same; in addition, there are new scenes and a drastically different ending in Icarus Ascending.

Readers may notice a Greek-Roman mythology undertone in Icarus Ascending. For anyone unfamiliar with the Icarus myth, here's a synopsis. Icarus' craftsman father builds wings of wax and feathers for he and his son to escape war-torn Crete. The father warns Icarus not to fly too high, for the sun will melt the wax. This myth teaches the dangers of complacency and hubris. Icarus flys too high, the wax melts, and he drops into the sea. End of story.

2. The book states that this is the first in the LA Detectives series. Will the second book follow Kirk MacGregor or focus on new characters?



 The second novel, Threads, has new characters with an MC private dick named Mike Hauser. As in Icarus Ascending, Threads is a crime noir mystery-thriller with M/M and M/F relationships in the background. In Threads, the son of a Hollywood legend disappears, and Hauser is hired to find him. Threads continues with Greek-Roman mythology undertones set in modern-day Los Angeles. Threads' epigraph is, "Sic volvere Parcas," (So spin the Fates.)  Book Three, titled The Furies, will have Kirk MacGregor and Mike Hauser working together after Kirk's ex-wife is accused of murder.

3. What inspired you to write a mystery/suspense novel?



 I enjoy reading mysteries, true crime, and crime noir. I do not write romance tales; never have, never will. Here's the kicker: As a male writer, I write M/M crime noir mystery-thrillers that do not include slowly developing romances and all that annoying angst. My main characters are in an established relationship from the start.

It must be mentioned that an overwhelming majority of M/M writers are women, and around ninety percent of the M/M audience is female. (Boys, get away from your cell phones and idiot boxes and expand your horizons -- start reading!) Mind you, I'm not suggesting those data are somehow negative. I've over 600 M/M novels in my iPod, and it's not escaped my attention that many, maybe most, female M/M writers tell their stories from women's standpoints, too often making the gay-male main characters a bit effeminate. (Women are indeed from Venus, and men are assuredly from Mars.) As a male M/M author, I write from a man's perspective.  As a result, some may think that men are my targeted audience. Such is not the case-- as with mainstream authors, I make every effort to write novels that will appeal to both men and women. It must be mentioned that my novels do not have happy or happy-for-now endings -- they have hopeful endings. And yes, I'm truly a male M/M writer -- no "boy pen name, girl writer" gender games here.

4. Do you have the entire mystery figured out before you start writing, or do you write and then see where the story leads?
 


Every novel starts with a problem that must be solved, and the story is built around your characters. I know some authors who write detailed outlines of their entire novels. Such isn't my approach to fiction writing. I briefly outline my novel's opening chapters, and know what the new project's beginning, middle, and ending will be before I begin writing. This may be difficult for those who don't write to grasp:  by chapter five or six, the manuscript has a life of its own. Once the first draft is completed, I allow the manuscript to "gel" for several months. Then I begin paring away the manuscript -- again, and again, and again. Think you want to write fiction? Be advised that it's the most difficult and frustrating job you'll ever have. You must love fiction writing to death to do it.

9 comments:

Diva Booknerd said...

I absolutely adore the cover Lauren and partial to a good suspense every ow and then. I think the lack of romance is a big plus here, otherwise the storyline might have gotten a little too dramatic, and it sounds like there's already more than enough to keep me turning the pages. Thanks for the awesome review and interview, really enjoyed it <3

Jasprit said...

I do like a book that keeps me guessing until the very last page, and I'm glad that you were able to enjoy that aspect of it. I've not heard of this book before, but thanks for putting it on my radar! :)

Melliane said...

LOl I don't know why I expected some mythology with such a title but that's nice too there, an interesting story and who doesn't like a good mystery and romance!

Tracy Terry said...

Loving the cover and like you the suspense would work better for me than the love and lust.

Claudia Arroyo said...

I really enjoyed the backstory surrounding the book's title - I love Greek-Roman mythology :)

Kindlemom said...

I really liked the backstory as well to the whole title change and update. Interesting interview, thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Jennifer Humphries said...

The cover on this book is really neat! Thanks for sharing about it here. You know I find so many great books from you :)

Melanie said...

Ooh what a pretty cover!! I adore it :) I lvoe a good mystery that keeps me on my feet to the very end so I shall keep this book under my radar.

Lovely review, hun <33

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I love a good mystery!