Hard Fall by James Buchanan

MLR Press

Gay Contemporary

ISBN: 978-1-934531-82-2

Reviewed by Cassie



Deputy Joe Peterson is a lawman, an avid climber, a Mormon, and gay.  He walks a fine line between his religion, which he cares a great deal about, and the other parts of his life.  He’s not pleased when a sexy young parolee, Kabe Varghese, shows up in town.  The boy seems like trouble.  Then he gets a call about a hiker who has fallen down a cliff, and Kabe’s the only other person with the climbing skills to help him retrieve the body.  Joe soon finds himself caught up in a mystery, as well as an attraction that could mean the end of his life as he knows it.

Hard Fall is a fascinating story with a lot of depth.  I learned a lot about the Mormon religion and climbing while reading it, all told in Joe’s (often amusing) first-person narration.  Joe is a very down-home kind of guy, with a simple life and a lot of faith.  He’s conflicted over his sexuality and some aspects of his job, but he’s able to separate everything into compartments in his mind.  Kabe is wild and doesn’t seem to think things through unless climbing is involved.  He balanced Joe out in some ways, and I liked the way they could come together and cooperate when climbing and investigating a possible murder.  The mystery angle isn’t all that mysterious, but the way it plays out is interesting nonetheless.  The most compelling part of Hard Fall involves Joe’s inner turmoil regarding his faith, and the way others perceive him.  While the die-hard romantic in me wanted a more settled ending, Hard Fall is an emotional story with both realism and drama.   


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