Book 3 in the Delingpole Mysteries Series
There’s a murderer stalking the gay bars of Berlin.
It’s September, the time of Folsom Europe, the city’s annual festival for gay men in leather.
And Berlin’s become a dangerous place for them.
British lawyer, and part-time sleuth, Dominic Delingpole is in town. He’s come to Berlin to visit Matty, the teenage son he first met only a year ago.
When Matty is arrested for the attacks, Dominic teams up with German lawyer Johann Hartmann, a good-looking man with a seductive charm.
As they battle to prove Matty’s innocence, Dominic and Johann discover the attacks are linked to a sinister, Russian-backed experiment.
But whose side is Hartmann really on?
Becca on Love Bytes wrote:
The Foreign Affair is set in Berlin during Folsum Europe (Europe's biggest fetish event, modeled after the Folsum Street Fair in San Francisco). Dawson does an exceptional job with the setting, giving us the flavor of Berlin's cafes and coffee shops, its architecture and parks, as well as a concert event - "Classic Meets Fetish - in a church with leather-clad classical musicians.
Dominick is visiting his 19-year-old son Matty who is attending the Technische Universitat. Matty's boyfriend, Professor Alex Krovopuskov, is a visiting professor of biomechatronics from Russia. Dominick has his doubts about Alex, mostly because of his age (40), but before he really gets to know him, there is a horrific chemical gas attack on a popular gay bar, and Alex is the prime suspect.
The intrigue begins, with Alex's disapperance, a mysterious death seen only by a homeless immigrant in an industrial park, and strange messages from a dating app. My chief niggle about the first two books in this series was the plots were overly complex with far too many characters and moving parts, but this book was just right - a tight, well written plot featuring a small cast of well-developed characters and some skillful misdirection.
Jay on Joyfully Jay wrote:
I have long awaited this story, but I have to say, Mr. David hit me with a big blow right off the bat. I didn’t know if I was going to recover from this one. But somehow Dominic, again, is caught up in the middle of something, and this time it’s his son that he’s having to save.
Dominic decided to come to Berlin this year for several different reasons. He needed a break from something that happened to him, and it was the time of year to visit his first male love at the cemetery. It was also where he was going to meet his son, whom he just met a year ago, and they were working on getting to know each other better. Matty, Dominic’s son, has let on that he’s seeing someone but when it’s time to really meet the man, Dominic is in shock. His 19 year old son is in love with someone older than he is. But it’s more than that. All of a sudden, gay bars are being targeted and Alex is the prime suspect. Matty knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alex is innocent, but the cops won’t listen and have even arrested him. Dominic hires Johann, who he’s having a hard time with, and wonders as things progress, if he can really trust the man.. Because the more Matty and Dominic dig, the more that things aren’t adding up. And who to trust is very unclear right now.
I can’t go into detail. But if you’ve read this series, up to now, get ready for the blow coming. If you haven’t, you need to read the first two or you are going to be lost. Seriously. I understood what Dominic had to come to Berlin. Even if it was only to see his son, but he had other memories to exorcise and things to deal with. And memories were killing him. Especially when a look a like is in his face. But I had to find it funny, in a sense, because it’s like Dominic is a trouble magnet and now it seems his son is just like him. And everyone that knows him seems to think the same, much to Dominic’s chagrin. It was a hard story, though, in a way. The tenuous relationship between he and his son is just getting going, and now all this trouble is dropped at their feet. And for Dominic, he has a hard time trusting anyone after all that he’s been through. And for Matty, it makes him feel like that Dominic doesn’t believe in him or Alex and what they have is true. So, I honestly felt for Dominic from the get go. He’s got so much on his plate. And more just keeps coming. Especially the surprise at the end. I never saw that one coming. At all. I was as shocked as the characters were.
But I have to tell you. This series has just been the best of mysteries. It’s intriguing, hard to put down, the characters are fantastic. And the way he’s written them, you never quite know who is up to what and where their loyalties lie. It’s a twist and a half when all is revealed. And I love how it’s turned out. Because I honestly never saw it coming. And that’s when you know you’ve read a good one. The surprise comes from out of nowhere and leaves you with a book hangover like you can’t believe. I love this series and I hope to see more of it in the future.
In order to commemorate two lives cut short and to spend some time with the son he didn’t know he had until recently, English lawyer Dominic Delingpole decides to venture to Berlin, Germany. Bittersweet memories abound in the city, from the graveyard where a former lover is buried, to the streets flush with revelers enjoying Berlin’s Folsom Festival, an annual event for gay men interested in leather and rubber. However, Dominic gets distracted from his own concerns when his son, Matty, drops a hefty bomb on his father: Matty is dating a man named Alex Korovpuskov, who is not only twice Matty’s age, but also a professor at the university where Matty studies. Dominic barely manages to refrain from making any snap judgements and when he briefly gets to meet Alex, Dominic clearly sees that his son is smitten with the older man. Their meeting is cut short, however, by a domestic terrorist attack. The attack happens not far from where Dominic and Matty are waiting until they can join Alex. The attack has also targeted a gay bar that is at the epicenter of the Folsom Festival revelries. Further complicating matters is the video footage showing someone who is the spitting image of Alex engaging in what the authorities believe is illicit behavior. And, of course, as the boyfriend of a suspected terrorist, Matty soon finds himself in hot water with the German police.
Now, Dominic is in need of legal council in Germany if he is to have any hope of getting his son back. A friend of his recommends a human rights lawyer named Johann Hartmann…and the German does not disappoint. As a professional, Johann seems beyond reproach—getting an emergency hearing scheduled in order to get Matty released from police custody. But as a man, Dominic notices that Johann has a lot to offer, as well. Johann is easy on the eyes, well-connected to powerful people, and a not-so-secret fan of leather. All of which make for an enticing prospective partner. The only problem is that Dominic’s had his heart broken before and he’s not entirely sure it has healed enough to try again.
The Foreign Affair is the third book in David C. Dawson’s The Delingpole Mysteries series. First, I must state that I have not read the first two books. Second, I will opine that while I think this book COULD absolutely be read as a standalone, there are certainly events from the prior books that come into play in this book. One of them is an extremely (and I suppose unavoidably) HUGE spoiler for earlier in the series and, personally, I probably would not have read book three without reading the first two if I had an inkling of what I was getting into so I could properly enjoy how the spoiler event came to be and how it had and continues to affect Dominic. If you’re like me and may feel a bit cheated out of some reading pleasure by a built-in (and, in context, completely unavoidable) spoiler, I strongly encourage you to read the first two books before this one. For less…particular readers, I do think this story does work just fine as a standalone.
Why does this book work so well as a standalone despite being clearly part of a series? I think the characters and their life situations help tremendously. It features Dominic Delingpole, a solicitor in England who seems to be bisexual (he definitely had a romantic relationship with the woman who gave birth to Matty and says in the book he would probably have married her if things had gone differently), but most/all of his romantic and sexual relationships as an adult have been with men. There is a brief nod towards him perhaps being willing to participate in BDSM or a Dom/sub type of relationship as well. He seems to find himself in wild situations, despite not planning to put himself there. In this book, for example, he gets entangled with German law enforcement and has a scare about causing Russian authorities to take an interest in him as well. Nevertheless, he’s got a sharp mind and reasoning skills that help him cope with the fact that his son has been, for all intents and purposes, wrongfully detained. Furthermore, I think the fact that Matty is characterized as the long-lost adult son (well, he’s 19) helps this story work as a standalone. I liked that Dominic clearly has parental feelings towards his son, but has not had much practice acting on them and both he and Matty seem to be aware (to varying degrees at varying times) how much parental say-so Dominic gets. Note: Matty’s mother is a German national and it seems that Matty has been raised in Germany as a German.
Of course, the interplay between Dominic and Johann is excellent as well. Again, Dominic has had his heart absolutely broken and has half-convinced himself the experience has ruined him for any future relationships. Thus, the immediate chemistry between Johann and Dominic gives Dominic a lot to consider: if he’s ready to jump back in the saddle, if he wants to jump back in the saddle, and why he had to find such a great saddle in Germany instead of his own country of England. I thought Johann was an absolutely charming character. He’s a human rights lawyer, but has a keen interest in at least some types of fetish subcultures and seems completely at ease being out. I wasn’t sure what to make of how forward he is in demonstrating his physical attraction to Dominic (there are a few unsolicited kisses, but Dominic doesn’t seem put off by being kissed, so…). The more I encountered Johann on-page, the more I liked him. And when the plot lines surrounding Alex and the terrorist group come crashing together, I thought the author did an extremely excellent job of masking who’s actually “good” and who’s actually “bad.”
Overall, I think The Foreign Affair is an excellent read. I thought the mystery elements were fantastic and had me second guessing myself about who was really behind the gay bar attacks. Dominic’s past gets incorporated into many aspects of the book and with the one spoiler I discussed above, I thought all prior events were recapped in a way that made him more compelling as a character. The restraint Dominic shows Johann and Johann’s answering interest also made for a satisfying, slow-burn, will-they/won’t-they dynamic.