The Slow Road to Hell

A Gay Murder Mystery

by Grant Atherton

The Slow Road to Hell - Grant Atherton - Elders Edge
Part of the Elders Edge series:
Editions:Kindle: £ 3.49
Pages: 235
Paperback: £ 6.49
ISBN: 1521475954
Pages: 235

Forensic Psychologist Michael MacGregor returns to his old home town when his estranged father, the local priest, is murdered in the first of a series of killings. Nathan Quarryman, the lover he walked out on years before and now the local Chief of Police, is tasked with investigating the crimes. The two men must find a way to settle their differences, repair their broken relationship, and work together to bring the killer to justice.

This book is on:
  • 1 To Be Read list
  • 1 Read list
Cover Artists:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Bad Breakup, Criminals & Outlaws, Second Chances
Word Count: 70300
Setting: Small Town
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Reviews:Tosha on Gay Book Reviews wrote:

This was a really good book with a lot of drama, mystery, suspense and unfinished business. It was a book that you never knew what was going to happen next and you definitely did not know who the killer was until it was revealed at the end of the book,

Mickey has a lot of unfinished business with his ex Nathan when he returns to the town he grew up in. Leaving Nathan the way Mickey did and never getting in touch with him until his father was murdered was not the brightest thing that Mickey had done. Mickey is a smart man but does a lot of dumb things.

When ift comes to light that Mickey’s father did not die of a heart attack like everyone originally thought but instead was murdered, that is when things start to get dicey and quick like. Someone is trying to cover up what they have been up too and there is no clue to point out who it is. The only clues anyone can find is that whomever the killer is, he seems to be fixated on Mickey.

Nathan wants to forgive Mickey but it is not easy. Regardless of his feelings towards him, Nathan knows he needs to figure out who the killer is before he gets to Mickey and then they may never get the chance to work out if they have a chance to change the past mistakes.

I really enjoyed this read. It was so interesting reading how it was to all unfold. There was the element of surprise and the element of truth and hurt. I really enjoyed watching these these two men Wade their way through all the bad things they went through. It was really overall just a good read and I look forward to continuing their journey to possibly a happily ever after in the next book.

NeRdyWYRM on Gay Book Reviews wrote:

An Evocative Rollercoaster Ride

I am so tied up in knots right now it’s not even funny. The angst and the feels, the angst and the feels, up, down, twist, down, up, and down again. Maybe my whodunit brain cells were broken, but the villain turned out to be at the bottom of my list of three suspects so … for me, the mystery was successful. The relationship … my gods. I felt like I was on an exhilaratingly terrifying rollercoaster the whole time. Take a look at these faces, you’ll see what I mean. Clockwise from top right: relief, anguish, terror, and happiness. Mm-hmm. That about sums it up.

The pacing in this book was great. There weren’t any lags and nothing seemed rushed either. To be honest, Mikey wasn’t a very likable character. Putting aside his failed relationships and history of self-sabotaging those relationships in a most flagrant way, I continually got the feeling that he was weak of character, too. I’m not saying he was a total douche … maybe. I can imagine his upbringing left a lot to be desired, but he seemed too quick to jump to conclusions and otherwise scarper for someone who was a trained forensic psychologist and profiler.

Then again, who knows what that’s like when your emotions are involved in a situation. Perhaps objectivity goes out the window and you truly are blinded enough to ignore what skills that should be muscle memory are telling you. Sigh. I don’t know. Nathan seemed to be similarly handicapped and clueless, I mean, seriously, what was that shit with Brandon? None of that particular situation was explained, at least not to my satisfaction. I realize the romance in this one was slow-going. In fact, there wasn’t much steam at all, but the chemistry was intense and there was so much unresolved hope for more.

Was Nathan—who had thus far been mostly in the right—being a hypocrite and double dipping? If so, that was unforgivably wishy-washy, but I’m only speculating now. Just goes to show you, the whole damn thing was a wicked ride, and at the end … well, I feel nauseous. That doesn’t seem very flattering on its face, but I don’t mean it in a bad way necessarily. I also kind of wanna love-cry at the same time.

As much as I enjoyed it, I feel cheated by the ending. Thus the clenching in my gut. Things are unresolved as far as I’m concerned, and I resent it even though I understand it. I don’t know if the author plans a follow-on or not, but I certainly hope so. This wasn’t necessarily a cliffhanger, but I feel that there are so, so many things left hanging in the relationship that I can’t find my way clear to decide whether this book was so good I was invested to the point of illness when it ended, or if that’s disappointment roiling in my belly. I suppose if nothing else can be said of this book, it definitely made me feel pretty intensely about a great many things along the way.

I would read another title by this author tomorrow. I guess time will tell whether or not we get more of Mikey and Nathan or if Mr. Atherton will move on to other things. I would have given this book 4 stars, but I just can’t get past the ending, so it gets 3.5 instead.

on Joyfully Jay:

Michael MacGregor is a forensic psychologist who has made a career out of helping the police solve crimes. He also has a popular show on the BBC and therefore, he’s pretty high profile. While going through his second divorce, Michael gets a call from an old friend telling him his father, the town vicar, hasn’t been seen in several days. Even though he and his father had a contentious relationship leading Michael to leave the town (and his first lover) behind, he decides to return to see what is going on.
When Michael and a police officer break down the door of the vicarage, they discover his father dead in his favorite chair and assume he’s had a heart attack. When Michael returns the next day, the house is cordoned off and he’s informed it is now a homicide investigation. Turns out, Michael’s father has been strangled, and Michael may be the main suspect.
The situation is already bizarre, but it becomes more interesting when Michael discovers the chief of police, Nathan Quarryman, is the lover he left behind, and let’s just say Nathan isn’t thrilled to see Michael.
I’m going to begin this review by telling you The Slow Road to Hell is, first and foremost, a murder mystery. Yes, the main characters are gay, and they have a history (and hopefully a future), but the romance most definitely takes a back seat to the whodunit. That’s not terribly clear in the blurb, but I suspected it. I like mysteries and cop stories, so I took it anyway, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The book had a bit of a difficult start. It took awhile for Michael to grow on me. In fact, he was a right jerk. Once the story got going, I was a fan all the way. The same goes for Nathan. He still resented Michael, and didn’t seem to eager to accept the olive branch. Both men were broken, and it was obvious they needed to have it out before they could repair themselves and each other.
I loved the mystery. It was well written and very well plotted out. I was impressed with it from beginning to end. In fact, I pride myself on being able to figure out who’s the bad guy, but this time, it came out of left field. Just as I was piecing everything together, an entirely different motive came out of nowhere, and I was blown away. However, I don’t want to be held responsible for ruining this for anyone, so you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
As I mentioned, the romance takes a backseat to the mystery, but make no mistake, there is a romance. Michael and Nathan were in love when they were young. Nathan was heartbroken when Michael left, but Michael did have his reasons. All of the pain and heartache could have been avoided with one simple conversation, but of course, there wouldn’t have been much of a story then, right? Michael and Nathan’s pathway back to each other was long and it was slow. I’m so happy the author decided to write it this way. It would have felt unnatural if they’d have just hugged it out and picked up where they left off. Instead, they danced around each other. Also, seeing how Michael’s father was murdered, it would have been unseemly if the police chief was cavorting with the victim’s son.
The ending tied up nicely, and was perfectly explained. As I said, I was hit upside my head with the motive, but I was satisfied with everything. There were just enough red herrings, and even a tiny subplot to make The Slow Road to Hell a hell of a ride. I highly recommend this one.

on The Novel Approach:

Mikey MacGregor couldn’t deal with being judged by his staunchly religious father anymore, so he left Elders Edge, and in doing so, left behind his best friends, Karen and Nathan, without an explanation. As time passed, Mikey became well known for not only his radio show but his expertise in forensic psychology as well. But even with his popularity, Mikey has made some questionable choices and has never truly been himself.

Mikey has kept in touch with Karen, and he’s lucky to still have her as a best friend. She’s kept tabs on Owen MacGregor, Mikey’s father, but some time has passed since Karen has seen Owen, so she calls Mikey to let him know. Mikey reluctantly returns to his childhood home only to discover that his father has passed away. But what appears to be a death from natural causes turns out to be murder, and Mikey becomes a suspect.

Nathan Quarryman is now the Detective Chief Inspector in Charwell. As the murder becomes his priority, he comes face-to-face with Mikey, and although Nathan says he’s moved on, he still has never forgiven Mikey for leaving. Nathan is cold, hostile and treats Mikey like a stranger. Between the press and harsh words from Nathan, Mikey decides to take a stand and out himself. As Nathan and Mikey gradually start to make somewhat of an amends, murders continue to occur, and Nathan feels it has something to do with Mikey.

The Slow Road to Hell is an excellent murder mystery with a variety of suspects which makes it difficult to even guess the reasoning behind the murders, let alone who the guilty party is. In the midst of the murders and the drama, there’s also a love affair between Karen and Sergeant Richard Lowe that offers a bright side to contrast the seriousness of the storyline. The plot is well constructed with twists and turns, and it never takes a back seat to the drama of Mikey and Nathan’s estrangement and reconciliation. I’ve read this book twice now, and the drama and emotion of Mikey’s upbringing and the destruction of his relationship with Nathan still pack a punch. It becomes even more heartbreaking when Mikey tries to right his wrongs and finds that Nathan hasn’t been truthful with him as they’ve worked to repair their relationship.

Grant Atherton is an author I’m going to watch out for. He is an amazing writer, and I hope there is a sequel to The Slow Road to Hell coming soon, as this was a real page turner for me. We aren’t left with a solid HEA, and I’m not sure there will be one, but I want to see what happens with Mikey and Nathan.

About the Author

Grant lives with his partner in a small seaside town on the east coast of England not unlike the Elders Edge he writes about. The major difference between the two being that Elders Edge has a higher murder count.

When he's not dreaming up new ways to kill people, he relaxes by stargazing in the early hours.

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