REVIEW: Sticks and Stones – Steve Burford

Sticks and Stones - Steve Burford

Genre: Mystery

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

“He’s a thug… a really nasty piece of work.”

When young Clayton Kerry, member of a notorious Worcester family, is found dead on an abandoned factory site, it looks like an accident. Some even say it was what he deserved. But headteacher Alun Blake’s refusal to sugarcoat the truth about the pupil he excluded causes outrage in the local community and sparks a vendetta against him that rapidly spirals out of control threatening both his life and that of his daughter.

When Detective Inspector Summerskill and Detective Sergeant Lyon investigate, they find Clayton’s death was by no means as clear cut as it had seemed and that they are at the start of a trail that will take them into the heart of a school and far beyond the boundaries of their city, to crime on a national scale.

As they uncover what really happened, Summerskill and Lyon are brought face-to-face with uncomfortable truths about their own lives and relationships. Personal loyalties are tested, and before the case is through, at least one more person will die.

The Review

Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill and Sergeant Dave Lyon are caught up in an accident at the deteriorating site of William Fitzmaurice brewery. A student of Monastery Grove High, Clayton Kerry, was killed by a crumbling wall.

Claire and Dave will find themselves spending many hours at the Monastery Grove High, interviewing a number of individuals. Claire will have to take care and listen to her son Tony, as he’s a student at Monastery Grove High and will shed a lot of light on the investigation at hand. The investigation gets more complex when Summerskill and Lyon discover a conflict between Headteacher Alun Blake, his daughter Anne and Callum and Caleb Kerry. Then another body is found on the Fitzmaurice property, and a young female student, Anne, goes missing. 

Even with all the issues of the investigatio, Claire and Dave still have personal matters to deal with. Claire still has her doubts about her husband Ian. Dave has gotten involved with MP Sean Cullen, and it’s a very questionable situation.

Burford is so talented at bringing mystery and intricate investigation techniques to each of his novels. There’s always something new that he brings out in his characters, especially Claire and Dave.

Burford surprised me with “Sticks and Stones.” It’s been several years from “Bodies Beautiful,” the second book in the “Summerskill and Lyon” series. In “Sticks and Stones” Burford again delivers a complex investigation into the world of drug dealing, crossing county lines, young people being recruited, self-harm and dysfunctional family issues.  

One of the other subjects that Burford covers in this series is bigotry. Dave has to deal with it on a daily basis. He’s a good investigator and works hard at his job. He tries to be friendly toward his co-workers, but they don’t always treat him very well because he’s gay. Some think the minute another gay man comes into the picture, Dave is suppose to immediately hook up with them. Some are very prejudiced and make off-color remarks. But Dave knows how to respond, and it’s a miracle that he doesn’t get angry.  

There are also the usual secondary characters, DI Rudge, Jenny Trenton and Terry Cortez, that are somewhat questionable.  I liked the new additions:  Sergeant Chris McNeil, who piqued my interest, and his newbies to the force Baz South and Becky Dennison. And there’s also the intriguing, Joseph “Joe” Jones, who finds himself helping Dave on the investigation.

MP Sean Cullen (Bodies Beautiful) is back, and I just don’t like him. All I know is that Dave deserves better. Cullen is full of himself, condescending, and really abuses Dave with his words.

Dave knows he was never Cullens type, and I hope he does the right thing. Cullen really has nothing to offer Dave except sex, whenever it’s convenient for Cullen. Cullen is also a bit like a stalker to me – he has his ways to find things out about Dave and that crosses the line for me.

I loved the last chapter – it has an itsy-bitsy, delightful surprise, and I didn’t see it coming! 

I highly recommend the “Summerskill and Lyon” series.  “Sticks and Stones” was a page-turner for me, and I can’t wait for Steve Burford to deliver the next book in this series. I hope it’s soon!

The other books in the “Summerskill and Lyon” series are reviewed here:  “It’s A Sin” and “Bodies Beautiful”.   

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams. 


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