Love, murder and a dog. A review of Calvin’s Head by David Swatling

22818783Title: Calvin’s Head
Author: David Swatling
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Genre: mystery, thriller, romance
Story rating: 4.5 out of 5
Smex-o-meter: 1 out of 5

Blurb: Life in Amsterdam isn’t all windmills and tulips when you’re homeless. Jason Dekker lives in a jeep with his dog, Calvin, on the outskirts of the city.A thesis on Van Gogh brought him to the Netherlands, and the love of Dutch artist Willy Hart convinced him to stay. But Willy is gone and Dekker is on the brink of a total meltdown.
On a summer morning in the park, Calvin sniffs out the victim of a grisly murder. Dekker sees the opportunity for a risky strategy that might solve their problems. Unfortunately, it puts them directly in the sights of the calculating stone-cold killer, Gadget. Their paths are destined to collide, but nothing goes according to plan when they end up together in an attic sex-dungeon. Identities shift and events careen out of control, much to the bewilderment of one ever-watchful canine.
Oscar Wilde wrote that each man kills the thing he loves. He didn’t mean it literally. Or did he?


Review: So far Bold Stroke Books is guaranteed to deliver something different in the way of LGBT books. Calvin’s Head is no different. It’s not much of a romance, but the mystery and the suspense is good.

Calvin’s Head is about down on his luck Jason Dekker with his dog Calvin. He’s in the Netherlands to write a thesis on Van Gogh, but things didn’t quite go so well, especially not with his love Willy Hart. Shaken up and not doing so well, he lives in his car with his dog. Things change when the bodies start piling up. Will Jason and Calvin survive?

Reading this book, I had a few moments of “sheesh can they just get on with it.” It’s a delicate balance between the plot, the characters and the writing, but it was a well written story. As readers you are predominantly in Jason’s head as we learn about him and his story. There’s also the point of view from the serial killer, not surprisingly in murder mysteries. What is surprising is the point of view of the dog. It takes some getting used to, but it adds a unique perspective to the story.

I thought the plot itself was well thought out. I never got the feel of ‘been there done that’ I sometimes get reading serial killer books. The story is bloody though and creepy.

The author writes a good story, stringing words together that makes the world come to live and has you hiding behind the couch with its vividness sometimes. It is a fresh wind though. The plot has a few twists and turns to keep you guessing. Nice to see a thriller that is not overcome with a sappy romance (though those are nice too).

It was also very nice to see a story set in my country!

Why you should read it: Calvin’s Head is not your typical suspenseful thriller; it offers different points of view and a thrilling and refreshing story. It’s not your typical romance thriller, but it has a bit of everything, mystery, murder, romance and a dog!

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