Primal Red by Nicole Kimberling

Primal Red by Nicole Kimberling


Peter Fontaine is a reporter writing for a free weekly newspaper in the quirky little town of Bellingham. Nick Olson is a reclusive painter with questionable past and a studio in the Vitamilk Building. Peter has a knack for choosing to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case that place is the Vitamilk Building and the time is the moment that Shelley Vine, local art professor and rising star of the art world, is stabbed to death.

Determined to understand why Vine was killed, and convinced that breaking the story could jumpstart his career as an investigative journalist, Peter begins his own investigation into her death. As Peter uncovers more information about Vine, Olson, and the interconnected lives of the rest of the artists at the Vitamilk Building, he finds himself falling in love with Nick.

Peter wants a story but he also wants Nick, and it looks like he’s going to have to make a choice before the two can paint the town Primal Red.

[Originally for Rainbow Reviews HERE!


Peter Fontaine is a newspaper reporter for the local free weekly The Hampster. He dreams of making a big splash in the journalistic world and thus finds himself hiding behind a dumpster outside a Russian teashop at 4am waiting for something sinister to happen. Peter finally gives up and wanders to the building of artists next door with the vague idea of seeing his artist roommate. Unfortunately for Peter, he stumbles across a dying woman and a mixture of artists all somehow involved the woman’s life or death. Thinking to make his big break, Peter decides to investigate the woman’s murder with the hopes of solving it before the police can.

Peter is a quirky but funny character with unexpected moments of charm and warmth. Thankfully not resembling the Clark Kent-esque figure of reporter mysteries, Peter offers a confidence and ambition that are surprising and interesting. His fantasies and erotic daydreams of Nick and firefighters are humorous and charming, as is his fumbling but forward pursuit of the object of his fantasies. Peter has his moments of awkwardness and bumbling but overall, he is unequivocally the star of this short piece. Here is an example of his quirky favor:

“’Why do you have that?’ Peter eyed Nick quizzically. Was he supplementing his income by stealing car stereos? He really needed to put his crushes through a better vetting process before he started dating them.”

Nick on the other hand is kept a mystery. Beyond being a reclusive painter with a checkered past and sexy body, his motivations and past are largely unexplored or shared and often doled out in small bites or off hand comments. Each comment of Nick’s past seems to contradict previous comments leaving Nick unexplained and somewhat one dimensional, which is unfortunate as he adds interest to the story. The additional supporting characters are only given a cursory glance by the author and thus mostly forgettable.

As this is marketed as a mystery, the actual mystery of who killed the artist Shelley Vine was rather weak. It failed to draw a lot of interest at its conception and seemed to slide along without direction for the most part other than the vague idea of the artists having some connection. The conclusion was resolved within a matter of connect the dot clues with sadly the most obvious explanation that only the plucky newspaper reporter and sidekick figure out. The resolution scene was over the top with a physical altercation that made little sense but was rather humorous to read.

The humorous but lost mystery seems to typify this story. Overall, this is a quick, fun read without much depth or weight. The author offers an easy read that has a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance and not enough of each to make the story well rounded or crafted. However, it garners a few laughs and a few smiles within the detailed scenery of the town.

Get it HERE!

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