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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars

on 7 June 2010
Amateur sleuth Mitch returns for more erotic adventures as he attempts to solve a murder mystery on the Flying Scotsman. It's impossible to review this novel without comparing it to The Back Passage, as it is a direct sequel, and shares many of the great qualities of it's predecessor. Mitch is an endearing narrator, and the cast of characters are suitably entertaining - and of course, nearly all gay. I have read some reviewers who criticise this as being unrealistic. To them I would say: it's a comic gay erotic fantasy; of course they're all going to be gay and Mitch is going to shag most of them. That's half the fun!

In many ways, though, I think it is the erotic content that lets this second novel down a bit. Mitch doesn't manage to get his end away nearly as often, and when he does he feels somewhat guilty as he is being unfaithful to Vince, left behind in Edinburgh. The sex scenes lack the urgency and passion of Mitch's encounters with Boy Morgan in the first book, although Betrand is a rather dear character and I enjoyed his discovery of the joys of taking it up the rear.

However, the mystery this time around is fascinating - involving a heady mix of murder, diamond smuggling, porn films, drugs, blackmail, film stars, forbidden love, royalty, right wing fascists, corrupt coppers and sex clubs - and the way Lear sows doubt and suspicion of all the main characters is masterful. I think it succeeds far better as a mystery novel than it does as an erotic one. And now I'm going to have to go and buy the next installment of Mitch's adventures: A Sticky End (you've gotta love those titles!)
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on 30 January 2009
Be forwarned I have gone and picked up a racy novel again, so if your faint of heart don't read on. Ha!

James Lear writes erotic fiction mixed with a good slice of crime, well at least for the Mitch Mitchell books, and this is the second. You will also know that bar Anais Nin I have always pooh-poohed erotica as being trash, James Lear proved me wrong and he has succeeded in doing so again.

The Secret Tunnel is set roughly a year or so down the line from The Back Passage. Mitch Mitchell has moved to Edinburgh and is going on the Flying Scotsman to visit his best friend and married `on off' lover Boy Morgan in London. Mitch doesn't enjoy travelling alone finding that he gets bored, however on this journey he won't - and not just from the attractive staff and passengers. Of course not long into the journey someone gets murdered and Mitch sees it as his chance to play at detective again, what he believes is his true vocation.

Naturally with a James Lear novel there is heaps of sex, again following his `an orgasm a chapter minimal' rule of thumb. Again this is part of the story not just an add-on for thrills though some of it is indeed thrilling. The sex takes you along with the plot and becomes and integral part of the whole novel. We also get to meet a whole new host of characters like dizzy starlet Daisy Athenasy and stowaway and Mitch's new sidekick Bertrand from Belgium.

If your thinking all the action takes place on the Flying Scotsman then you would be wrong as we are taken into the decadence of 30's/40's London where the motley crew of investigators get taken on even more thrills and spills through royal connections and the theatre lovelies. The whole novel ends far too quickly in a very climatic twist. I once again really enjoyed this James Lear novel and would recommend it to fans of crime as well as fans of all things fruity.
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on 7 February 2009
If you have read James Lear's previous adventure "The back passage" then you will be slightly disappointed here, this is my no means as clever or as funny. Still it is a good light hearted read from an interesting cross over genre. There are all the suitable sexual foils to Mitch's desires and as ever there are plenty of encounters to be enjoyed. Definately still worth a buy to read one afternoon in the bath with a glass of wine!
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on 26 April 2009
Regular readers of my reviews will probably remember that I absolutely loved James Lear's "The Back Passage" it stands out to me because somehow it manages to have plot, characterisation, tongue in cheek humour, suspense, a credible mystery and yet is as porny as hell and gets away with it.

The Secret Tunnel is almost as good, almost, but not quite. I won't go as far as to say it was disappointing, because it wasn't. Any book that makes me read it in entirety in two sittings and in one day can never be classed as a disappointment, but it did have differences - so if you are expecting "more of the same" you won't exactly get it.

There are some valid reasons for those differences, though. Mitch, our ever-ready, ever-horny hero who boasts of being able to shag five times in 24 hours, has grown up in the intervening years since the conclusion of the events in TBP. He's nearly finished his medical training and he's been living in illegal but blissfully happy coital bliss with Vince in Edinburgh. He's grown up a bit.

So when he has to travel alone to London on the Flying Scotsman to visit his old University chum "Boy" Morgan - his partner in TBP - Vince cancels at the last minute and Mitch considers himself a free man for the duration.

One thing with Lear's books that is essential for the new reader to do before you start: You must suspend your disbelief. Coming from me, who nitpicks about wallpaper historicals, this probably sounds like hypocrisy, but let me explain: Lear doesn't write wallpaper historicals. His facts are solid, and he clearly researches his work meticulously. But in the same way that there's ALWAYS a murder wherever Hercule Poirot or Jessica Fletcher goes, be it a country house or a fashion show (one wonders why anyone would invite them anywhere) whenever Mitch goes, every single man he encounters is either gay, bi-curious, bi-sexual or gay-for-you. Once you get over this, you can settle down and watch the smut with a smug smile, and really, all Lear does is twist a well-worn tradition to his own ends, and it works.

What didn't work for me in The Secret Tunnel was that I was expecting Mitch to pursue the mystery in the same way he did in TBP, sleeping his way through the train to uncover one fact at a time, but it didn't work like that. He was constantly frustrated (in more ways than one) in his pursuit of the facts and the cock which led to me feeling frustrated (for exactly the same reasons he was!) and becoming more and more confused by the ever increasingly serpentine mystery. In fact, I found myself laughing at my own expectations when I reached chapter three and Mitch had only had sex with his boyfriend. "You're slipping, Mitch," I said, out loud.

I think perhaps the plot was rather too serpentine, the cast list rather too large, the scope too ambitious. TBP was shorter, slicker and yes, full of sex, but each scene was particularly relevant to whatever Mitch was trying to find out--such as seducing an honest British Bobby in some toilets. What Lear did in TBP too was to escalate the level of sex, from frottage in a broomcloset, to voyeuristic threesome wanking over the length of the book. What I found with TST was that many sex scenes were interrupted, or simply seeming gratuitous (as strange as that sounds) characters were introduced who didn't add anything to the plot (such as the Belgium Bottom and the same policeman from TBP) and I was often confused as to what was going on. By the time Mitch did his Poirot impression and Explained It All, I had lost interest in who dunnit.

I've seen reviews here and there wondering if Lear had been listening to his critics and had done too much erotica in TBP, and decided to tone it down. I'm not sure. I don't think Lear would care tuppence for that, because TBP was such a runaway success, garnering acclaim from both sides of the Atlantic.

All that being said, if you like Lear's work, then you will very probably like this. Mitch is still a great character, Boy is still a hot horny cuddlesome bundle if married, (although if infidelity bothers you, then you shouldn't read Lear at all, but I'm sure I've made that clear already.) The ending - I think - makes it clear that Mitch will be back again, and I hope so.
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on 13 December 2012
Unlike some reviews here, I personally found this book to be a better read than the first in the series. However, I think I may have missed the point somewhere. The Back Passage was my first foray into gay erotica and I devoured it in one sitting; but, having now read the sequel, I wonder if it was the sex that had me reading so quickly or the murder mystery.
The Secret Tunnel is set two years after The Back Passage and, once again, Mitch Mitchell is faced with another murder mystery; but this time around there is less sex - that's not to say there isn't a lot of sex in this book; there is, and in some ways it's more graphic and extreme than the first book.
The only criticism I could level at the first book was that some of the sex encounters felt forced and almost got in the way of the plot (the journalist in the garage for one); but, in this book, all the sex seemed to occur at the right time; and Mitch's bouts of guilt definitely made him a more sympathetic characters - and less of a cliché. After all, do we really want readers to think all gay men bend over at the first hint of sex with a complete stranger? Mitch's attachment to Vince at least gives him some basis in reality. Then again, why do people read gay erotica? It's probably not for reality and therefore who really wants to read about how guilty Mitch is feeling for cheating on his boyfriend?
Anyway, for me, it was the mystery at the heart of this book that had me reading it so quickly (received yesterday, finished today). This time around the larger pool of suspects and the convoluted plot really had me gripped. I wanted mystery. I wanted to have to engage my brain. This book achieved this. A great mystery with some very horny sex scenes. Well worth the read.
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on 28 November 2010
The clue is in the title. Filth. All very funny and tongue in cheek, if that was the aim. Best read over a glass or three of wine.
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on 15 August 2015
superb construction and content
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on 20 July 2015
Ok but not his v best
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on 30 June 2015
Ok read.
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