cover image Two Man Station

Two Man Station

Lisa Henry. Riptide, $17.99 trade paper (273p) ISBN 978-1-62649-711-5

Henry (Dark Space) attempts to balance the aesthetic of gruff masculine intimacy avoidance with sensitive good-guy backstories, and a sense of small-town behavioral morals with an utter lack of homophobia. The result, despite some touching moments, is an emotionally ambivalent and implausible story. Impulsive Australian police officer Giovanni Valeri, having ruined the career of a colleague and former lover in the big-city force by formally calling him on his lack of ethics, takes his punishment in the form of reassignment to a tiny outpost in Richmond, Queensland, where Sgt. Jason Quinn, living alone with his 10-year-old son, is the only other officer. The development of coworkers-with-benefits intimacy feels jagged, Gio’s adjustment to rural life is inauthentic, and the sex scenes are unevenly paced. But Henry does a good job of depicting small-town policing, and the scenes between Jason and his child have real warmth. Her willingness to seriously tackle the issue of domestic violence in contexts both straight (a family in the town) and queer (Gio and his ex) is admirable, but readers sensitive to the topic may not find the romantic payoff here worth wading through the somber depictions of abuse. (Jan.)