Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Review: "Swipe Right for Murder" by Derek Milman

Swipe Right for Murder is utterly preposterous, possibly more prescient than I'd like to acknowledge, and immensely sensitive. It's an homage to classic films where the mostly innocent man finds himself caught in a web of suspicion and trouble, yet at the same time it reads more like a movie with someone like Shia LaBeouf.

Seventeen-year-old Aidan is a high school senior, desperate to find someone to love. His parents have kept their emotional distance since he came out of the closet, allowing him to go to boarding school. He has good friends, yet he always feels that they treat him like a kid and don't take him seriously.

With a free night at a posh hotel in New York City, Aidan does what any horny teenager might—looks for a hookup on a "dating" app. After a disastrous encounter with a closeted classmate, he finds an older man. And when Aidan wakes up in the man's hotel room in the middle of night, everything has gone awry—the man is dead, Aidan gets a mysterious phone call from a man addressing him as someone else, and he threatens Aidan and his family if he doesn't "give it" to him. But as menacing as the call is, the man also seems to know more about the issues that Aidan struggles with emotionally, and taps into his greatest regrets and fears.

The phone call catapults Aidan into a severe case of mistaken identity, putting him on the run from the authorities (who may or may not be the good guys), his family, and a shadowy terrorist group with an interesting set of priorities. Along the way, he meets a handsome stranger whose loyalties are confusing, he struggles with his own fears and issues, and he has to tap into his inner action hero more than a time or two. Will he help save the day? Does he want to stop the terrorists from their mission—which at its core isn't wrong, even if their methods are?

Swipe Right for Murder is full of twists and turns, double crosses, and lots of jarring action. But at the same time, there is a lot of raw emotion in this book, too, as Aidan is forced to confront some of his greatest anxieties, fears, and regrets. Many of the feelings Aidan has are familiar to those whom have come to terms with their sexuality and/or struggled with self-esteem and the desire to be loved. There are some tremendously powerful scenes interspersed with the craziness.

"I hate this thing inside myself, this need to become attached to people, this brutal loneliness that drives me, drives all my mistakes."

This book really reads like a movie, but it was very uneven for me. At times it was just so utterly ludicrous and complicated that I considered stopping but then there would be a powerfully poignant scene and I just kept on with it. I think if you can completely suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride, it may be a fun book for you. There's no disputing Derek Milman's ability to tell a good story; there was just far too much going on for me here.

NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

This book will be published August 6, 2019.

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