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Exotic locales and Neil Plakcy go hand in hand. From his Mahu
series, featuring gay homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, to the Tunisian
setting of his Have Body Will Guard series, Plakcy loves sunny climates.
And along with the exotica comes romantic erotica. Would his work be quite as
hot if it were set in, say Cleveland? In the winter? We’ll probably never know.
Dancing With the Tide, the second of his bodyguard
series, sees former SEAL Liam McCullough and his partner in business and love,
Aidan Greene, guarding the body of one Karif al-Fulan, a young Arabian pop star
whose recent coming out has prompted a fatwah to be issued against him,
calling for his death. But Liam and Aidan also find their relationship tested
by Karif’s attentions to both of them. And what of Karif’s previous dealings
with a Palestinian politician? Is he as innocent as he seems? Only Liam and
Aidan can find out.
Dancing With the Tide is of a piece with Plakcy’s
previous outing with his two bodyguards, Three Wrong Turns in the Desert.
The relationship between Liam and Aidan is deepened here, taking on a tentative
aspect. They disagree, they quibble over procedural matters on the job, they
get jealous and sulk, they bait each other—but in the end, they always kiss and
make up. Still, there’s a delicious tension between them that always keeps the
Karif is also well-drawn, coming off as a spoiled child one
minute and a serious artist the next. Come to think of it, that could be the
portrait of almost any celebrity. Liam and Aidan aside, Karif does have
one weak spot, and that’s Gavin—an expat Brit boy who blows him in an alleyway.
Gavin is also an interesting minor character, coming from the mean streets of
London, willing to stay with Karif and his bodyguards in the gated compound his
record company is paying for to keep him safe.
I do wish, however, that Dancing With the Tide had a
bit more local flavor. We get some cultural references, but I never really feel
like I’m there. And going along with that, Karif’s credibility as an artist
might have benefited with some nuts-and-bolts detailing of his creative
process. We get a bit of it—the title of the book is also the title of a song
Karif writes—but not enough to think of him as an artist instead of a shallow
But beyond those minor points, Plakcy has served up a great
second helping with this mystery. It’s a quick, engaging read that will have
you anticipating a third volume. Maybe set in Cleveland.
Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler