The Definitive Albert J. Sterne - Julie Bozza Crime stories are not for me, yet this is so perfect that it doesn't matter that it's a crime story, it still gets 5 stars. EVERYTHING about this book is perfect, and reading it made me really, really happy. Now let's see how many times I can use the word "perfect" in the review.

The thing about murders and all that is that it may be OK as a movie or a tv-series or something, 1-2 hours of grim entertainment. But spending days reading about it? I just don't find the idea very appealing; I'd rather read about actual murders in that case. With Bozza, however, the crime story in itself doesn't matter. There's nothing spectacular about it, classic serial killer theme. It's the characters and how they relate to the story that is interesting. No, not interesting; fascinating.

NOTHING about the entire story rubbed me the wrong way. No detail anywhere had me sighing in exasperation, wishing the author just hadn't gone there, and I'm the kind of reader I would hate to bits if I were an author myself. Following the murderer, seeing his perspective? Brilliantly done. I enjoyed reading about him, he's actually credible and not just a one dimensional monster. The change of perspective between Sterne, Ash and Garreth? Perfect. I could identify with all three of them. The amount of grisly details? Perfect. You understand the terror, anxiety and pleasure on behalf of victim/murderer respectively, you get to experience Ash's reluctance with understanding, and Sterne's utter indifference. Some poorly executed books go too far, like Cut & Run, with childish killers that are supposed to shock with their oh-so-clever modus operandi. Some well written books can go too far and beyond and it works, like Waiting in the throes, where you need all the horror to understand the complete and utter breaking of a person. Here? You don't need that much, and that's the point - it's perfectly portioned out. It's just right. Lagom.

I thought I would love Sterne about this book, and that would be that. Obviously, he's my dream come true (I've got the exact same awesome skills as he when it comes to comforting people in distress), but having finished the book, I realize that I love everything about it just as much as I love Sterne. This isn't a cute and sweet MM romance. There isn't even a lot of sex, lots of it is fade to black and what scenes there are aren't that explicit, yet it's perfect. No melodrama, because Albert efficiently nips that crap in the bud every single time. I want him in all books to just shut whiney characters up before they ruin book after book after book!

I'm utterly impressed by Bozza. I previously read her The Apothecary's Garden, and that one just got 3 stars from me. But this? I can't even tell it's written by the same author, and now I'm thrilled about seeing what else she has produced.

I could go on, but at the same time I'm at a loss for words and I can't really explain how awesome this book is. I'm sad it's over. So, time for some funny quotes (I'm not sure they count as spoiler:ish, but still). Because yeah, the book is funny as hell as well.

The shrubs Albert had planted around the three boundaries and the decades-old trees provided some privacy and a far more attractive appearance than the alternative of ugly, minimally-attired humanity.

"Don't give me dialogue from your soft porn romance novels."

"For lovers, we sure as hell bicker a lot. But I can live with it."
"What a pity," Albert commented.

Being undressed by Albert was more like having a personal valet.

"I know I shouldn't be emotional. But at least I try to keep such ridiculous reactions between you and me."
"I'm glad," Albert said very flatly.