Kevin J. Porter
Created by John F. Parker

When Mounties go off the track, they go really off the track...

KEVIN J. PORTER was a middle-aged family man with a wife and kids, a well-respected Chief Inspector for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a real law-and-order type, about as straight as you could get.

And then, thanks to one jaw-dropping act of poor judgement while on the job he threw it all away, in the process discovering that he was gay -- something he'd apparently had no inkling of previously.

Yeah, I had the same reaction.

Now he's a few years older, troubled by gout and living with his lover, the much younger Brent Barnes, an Asian man, in trendy Vancouver, cooking for "his man" as he's fond of saying, wearing kimonos and attending masquerade parties with Brent dressed as Batman and Robin. He's even on surprisingly very good terms with his ex-wife, who's apparently also involved with a younger man.

That's the rather far-fetched set-up for Come Clean (2005), Kevin's first -- and so far only -- novel, a flawed but promising debut in which Kevin is forced to team up with his former co-workers to catch a predictably twisted (ho-hum) serial killer who stalks lonely women and dispatches of them with predictably nasty techniques the author is only too happy (surprise, surprise) to share with readers in lovingly rendered detail.

Silence of the Lambs this is not, and the book is further marred by some awkward prose, a few plot twists that seem more than a little contrived (Hey! He's a serial killer! He doesn't have to have a "real" motive), some relationships that could only exist in fiction and too many outdated and redundant references to various films and television shows being filmed in the "Hollywood of the North." Sure, they filmed (and film) a lot of film and TV stuff there, but Parker's tendency to name-drop anything that isn't tied down while acting like a one-man booster for Vancouver's Chamber of Commerce makes his reluctance in actually naming cast members of The X-Files seem rather coy and silly. A good story editor might have helped this one immensely -- especially since, at the heart of the story, the too-sketchily rendered relationship between Brent and Kevin seems like it might be worthy of further exploration. Or at least a bit more explanation and nuance to close up the plausability gaps. As it stands, the relationship itself can be rather grating in its cuteness -- as when Brent refers to Kevin several times as Ms. RCI (for "Retired Chief Inspector").

According to a biography supplied by his publisher, Parker obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees, specializing in Drama and English, and has taught elementary, secondary, and college in Canada, the United States, and England. He has also been an artistic director, directing over 80 plays and musicals. He is already working on the second Kevin J. Porter mystery novel, Here Came the Grooms. What isn't mentioned is that Come Clean was originally released, under a different title and pen name and presumably by a different publisher back in 2001.

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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