Title: Tramps and Thieves (Murder and Mayhem #2)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 18, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Contemporary
Page Count: 231 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it.
Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife.
For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in.
When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.
The second book in the series of Murder and Mayhem provides an eventful murder mystery. The story begins shortly after the ending of the last book, but commences with an act that is central to the plot but is out of character. This raises doubt in the mind of the reader over the intentions of the lead player. As the story progresses the reader is fed similar red herrings so that it is never obvious who are the villains. Of course some characters are either unrelated or are above reproach, but that leaves quite a few central and secondary characters who might have done the deed. As the story unwinds potential villains become actual victims, thereby narrowing the search but never quite revealing who did what or why.
In the period between the two books there seems to have been further consolidation of the characters, where frictions had existed they are now more banter and where there was the potential for warmth there is now genuine regard. The only relationship that doesn’t seem to have grown is between the two central characters. Here they seem to have a reached a plateau of mutual attraction that satisfies both. The problem is that there is no real personal growth, they bring their pasts with them but choose each other over what they were. That this leads to prickly situations between them is no great surprise.
There is a strong sense of family throughout the book and if there is a moral to the story it is that we are all a product of our pasts and as Shakespeare put it ‘that the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children’.
As noted, the story has twists and turns that provide enough excitement to drive the tale forward. There are sufficient moments of calm however that allows the reader to catch their breath before the next revelation.
By the end of the book there is a clear sense of resolution where all becomes clear and there is a sense of stability that suggests that all will be well from that point on. The characters and their environment are sufficiently rich to allow for another book to the series but it could just as easily end at this point as there are no loose ends or apparent feeders to a new story.
As a pair of stories they work well together and they are a good read that provides interest through strong characterisation and storytelling.