Title: The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing
Release Date: May 25th 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Murder/Mystery, Thriller/Suspense
Page Count: 311 pages
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.
Well, here they were.
The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.
And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.
But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.
The relationship that sort of started between Jason and Sam in book one takes a step backwards here and spends much of the story trying to return to where they were or just a little further ahead. I struggled to understand Sam’s motivation for spurning Jason at the beginning. He obviously likes Jason—he’d spent hours on the phone talking to him over the eight months they’d been apart. So why did Sam do that knowing he wasn’t going to pursue their relationship as such? To remain friends? We do find out the reason, but I’m still not entirely convinced. Fortunately over the course of the story he changes his mind and by the end at least Sam is willing to show his affection in public. It seems this is now the start of their relationship proper. Having said all this, I liked Jason’s inner conflict, doubts, and thoughts about their ‘break-up’ for much of the story as it showed how much he loves Sam and misses him. And Sam continues to show he cares for Jason through his actions, although he keeps his professional game face on. I also liked the little physical responses that show Sam is jealous of the reporter who follows Jason.
Unfortunately due to the nature of the various investigations they spend much of the story apart, with Sam being involved in the serial killer case mentioned in Winter Kill. Sam’s also investigating another serial killer who leaves poorly painted Monet copies as his calling card and Jason’s investigation involves fraud within an art gallery. The cases overlap and the two men sort of work together. It’s not until about 80% that they have a chance to be intimate, but it’s well worth the wait.
The murder mystery investigation isn’t particularly complex, and as always there are a few red herrings and suspects along the way to distract the reader. The resolution when it comes is rather swift, especially after the drawn out investigation. I particularly liked the suspense and the exciting events on the island throughout the story.
For me, my main interest in Josh Lanyon’s stories is the romance first and foremost. I see the mystery as more of a device to drive the romance and provide additional action and suspense. If the plot is well-constructed then so much the better. I like Josh’s writing style and the various characters constructed here. The story is enjoyable to read with some lovely descriptive phrases, although I didn’t think it came across as polished as her earlier stories. Not my favourite mystery, but still worth reading.