While author Rick R. Reed has shifted his focus more to gay romance these days, he is no stranger to horror, thrillers, and the supernatural, with titles like: In the Blood, Bashed: A Love Story, Obsessed, The Blue Moon Café, Deadly Vision, A Demon Inside, High Risk, Mute Witness, and Twisted: Tales of Obsession and Terror. He’d been on my list of gay horror authors to read for some time, so in order to decided which book to read first, I asked Rick directly. He suggested his book IM.
Based on the cover of the book and the blurb on the back, IM sounded like just another mystery novel about a detective chasing after a serial killer of gay men. I was thinking, “Rick, why you steering a horror guy wrong?” Turns out, Rick knew exactly who he was dealing with when he steered me to IM.
I was shocked how fricking gruesome this book is! This killer is sick! There’s genital mutilation, cannibalism, and necrophilia! But don’t get me wrong. This is not an exploitation novel. There’s a real plot here and real characters.
First we have Ed Comparetto, the main detective. Openly gay and facing some homophobia on the force as a result, Ed begins to investigate the heinous murders of men who frequent an online hookup site. When it seems one of Ed’s main witnesses was a fake—or worse, real but deceased, Ed gets booted off the force. But now he wants to clear his name, find his witness, and find the killer. And along the way, he might even find some romance.
IM is also about the killer. We get inside the head of the killer. We learn more about the killer’s past and more about the killer’s motives. And we get to see many of the murders play out in graphic detail with classic horror nuances. However, rather than just a body count, What Rick R. Reed does is introduce us to victims before they die. Within the length of a standard chapter, we meet them, we get to know them, and we get a better understanding of why they are looking for sex online. These aren’t cookie cutter victims. Each man has his own doubts, fears, insecurities, and needs.
And while we might know who the killer is as the story unfolds, there are plenty of surprises and twists on the way to the vicious, tension-filled conclusion. The only disappointment is that it leaves you wanting more! The rather abrupt ending deprives readers of a resolution to the dilemmas the surviving characters were facing! I can’t help but wonder if Rick was (and maybe still is?) planning to write more stories about detective Ed Comparetto….
So, if you don’t mind being terrified of ever hooking up with a stranger on Grindr again. I would definitely follow Rick R. Reed’s suggestion and consider IM as your first of his gay horror/suspense novels to read. And just for the hell of it, here’s a photo of incredibly handsome Rick.