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REVIEW: Aces Up, by C.J. Baty

Title: Aces Up

Series: Pinkerton Man Book Three

Author: C.J. Baty

Genre: Mystery

LGBTQ+ Category: MM/Gay

Publisher: Self

Pages: 312

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Stiles Long emphatically did not want his lover, Michael O’Leary to go on the assignment he had been given. He didn’t care that Michael was an amazing poker player or that his commander thought Michael was the perfect man for the job. He almost lost Michael once. He couldn’t go through that again. 

Michael needed this. He needed to prove that he was able to take care of himself. He didn’t need Stiles to take care of him. He needed to be Stiles’ equal. The poker game in Durango, Colorado was his chance to prove that. The fact that Stiles didn’t want him to go didn’t matter. Michael had to do this.

Lizzie Ferguson was Stiles partner in the Pinkerton Agency. She was a good agent. That didn’t mean, she had to like being dressed in satin and lace, showing way too much of her body to total strangers. Lizzie knew there was more going on at Maverick’s Saloon, and it might just cost her life.

None of them suspected that a simple poker game would turn into a deadly nightmare. If the three of them weren’t careful, one of them might just end up the next victim. 

The Review

Pinkerton agents, Stiles Long and Lizzie Ferguson are taking on a high stakes poker game at the Maverick Saloon in Colorado. Stiles is ready to tackle the case but isn’t too crazy about his new found love, Michael O’Leary, coming on board. Michael’s expertise in poker has made him a participant in the poker game.

As Lizzie is already at the saloon working as a server, Stiles is on his way to Durango.   The trouble starts, with Michael’s long train ride to Durango. Already one participant has been murdered on the train and bodies continue to fall at the Maverick Saloon event. The situation becomes ever more chaotic when the saloon hall girls become murder victims too.

Michael’s reputation has already made enemies among some of the participants because of his fathers connection to a crime family in Dublin.  Besides the murders and all the suspicious characters, Michael and Stiles have a hard time hiding their own secret.  Someone is slipping notes under their doors, threatening to reveal their secret that could lead to their own ruin and possible death.

“The Pinkerton Man” series just keeps getting more entertaining with intriguing murder mysteries that keep the Pinkerton partners busy.  C.J. Baty takes us to England, the old west and the big cities of St. Louis and NYC, in the late 1800’s and to the early 1900’s.   I enjoy Stiles, Michael and Lizzie’s characters. 

With each novel C.J. Baty reveals more interesting facts about these characters that gives an in-depth look at their friendship. At first I thought “Aces Up” was going to end the series but the “Epilogue” brings another story in the makings.  The only issue I had with editing was the “Epilogue”.  The last name of O’Brien is used for Michael instead of O’Leary, but it still didn’t effect the outcome of the story.  All in all, “Aces Up ” boiled down too a twisted murder mystery with more to come!

The first book titled “The Pinkerton Man Series” consists of two stories. “The Pinkerton Man” introduces Stiles Langberry working as a constable for Scotland Yard and finds himself in a precarious situation which forces him to move to America.  In St. Louis he finds employment as a Pinkerton Man.  He meets a young lady by the name of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ferguson who eventually becomes his best friend.  His first case is a possible serial murder and brings him in touch with two young men, Paul and Michael O’Leary.   “Home on the Range” is the second story, where Stiles and Lizzie find themselves in Wyoming on a cattle ranch where the poisoning of cattle is the case.  Stiles finds no one can be trusted, not even Savage Beare, the foreman who catches Stiles eye.

“Murder in New York”, book two,  is the break out story for Lizzie Ferguson.  It takes Lizzie home to New York where an overbearing father tries to control Lizzie’s life and makes her a suspect in a murder.  While in New York, Stiles get’s caught up in a serial murder case, similar to what took place in St. Louis, and he comes face to face with someone from his past.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights.  

Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.  I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors. 

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me.  But if a blurb peaks my interest I will read the book. 

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading. I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  

One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre.   

Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.  But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.


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