The Next by Rafe Haze - My Thoughts

The Next - Rafe Haze

Oh, dear Lord.  I don't even know where to begin with this.  Let me start off by saying that the premise is terrific.  Rear Window-esque gay suspense.  Instead of the broken leg that kept Jimmy Stewart apartment-bound in the movie, what keeps our nameless (at least I can't remember if the guy has a name) songwriter protagonist apartment-bound is crippling agoraphobia.  That's why it gets a star and a half.  The ideas.  


What he sees through his window... when he's brave enough to open the curtains is a mixture of sadness, heartache, pathos, voyeuristic sex, and murder?   Enter the hot, sexy, beautiful, god-like detective with the dimples and sweet smile - I think it was sweet, but the author is trying so hard to write Like A Guy that words like sweet aren't used unless we're talking about sugar in coffee.  See... it occurs to me that the author seems like he's trying hard to show that without a doubt, he's a Guy.  


This was one of the few times I felt compelled to take notes as I read because I just couldn't contain my WTFery.  And here are some of those notes...


I suspect that the author thinks he's being edgy, but the language is close on purple prose at times.  It's flowery and overblown and diminishes whatever story he's trying to tell by swamping the actual narrative.  


Everything is stated in 3's... adjectives... descriptive clauses... portions of sentences.  Yeah, just like what I just did there.  All the freaking time!  Does the protagonist have a deep thought or a sudden insight?  Let's make sure we repeat it at least 3 times in different fashions to make certain the readers get it.  


By the halfway point, I don't know if this is a story about the songwriter and the detective, the disappearance of the songwriter's neighbours, the songwriter's past with his brother, parents, grandfather, the songwriter going slowly insane, what's going on in the Perfect Family's apartment...  I just have NO idea.  


And how the guy can see SO clearly into the apartment across the courtyard is beyond me!  The details of what he sees... incredible.  The guy should be an elite sniper instead of a failed songwriter.


The author is very, very enamoured of metaphors to get his point across - there are a MILLION of them.   Everything is like something else.  


Then there's this gem of a paragraph: 


"In lust-driven swiftness, Mr. Perfect bent over the bed, his stomach on the shiny quilt, his arms in front of him, stretched out to the pillows, burying his nose and forehead into the quilt, with his legs bent at perfect right angles down to the floor, his muscular hairy globes thrust into the air.  With one hand strangling the pillow in front of him, he reached with his other to pull Ruben's dick between his bulging lobes.


The Peasant was crowning the King." 


I can't count the times I was treated to globes, lobes and other non-sexy euphamisms.  Which, you know, okay fine, this isn't marketed as erotica, but if you're writing a sex scene don't you want it to be sexy?  Your mileage may vary, I guess.


Another goodie... 


"The knob at the end of his thick, fleshy rope swung like Tarzan down to his knee and picked up Jane at the bottom."


Well, that certainly sounds appetizing.  *eyeroll*


Dear Lord, we've gone from countless 'members' and 'poles' to now... 'hot rod'.   And I've not mentioned all the various usages of 'meat'.   


"I found his puckered asshole shining as smooth and pink as a raw breast of chicken."


Hot and sexy isn't it?  *more eye rolling*


I mean, SERIOUSLY!  The guy has just acknowledged that he might like guys 'in that way' and has given his first blow job (deepthroating too) and now ... now... he's RIMMING THE GUY???


And of course, all the bouldery muscles, hot and heavy meat, globes and lobes... all this manages to give our protag an insta-cure for his agoraphobia AND a very high level of gay sex proficiency.   


You know... this could have been a terrific novel - had it been written by someone else.  I kept thinking that through the last half of the book.  The idea is great, the backstory of the protag is fascinating, the mystery (although I thought it needed more focus) was kinda cool... it just...  well, the whole book felt like Authorial Masturbation to me.  So much of it read like bad porn and I was so disappointed.   This could have been a terrific livre noir in another author's hands.   I'll not be checking out anything by this author again.