Holmes & Moriarity: All She Wrote – Josh Lanyon
Giving screwball mystery a whole deadly new meaning.
A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved American Agatha Christie and Christopher Holmes’s former mentor. Anna’s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit’s sore spots: traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.
For J.X., Kit’s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that s just as well, right? Kit isn’t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.
Faster than you can say Miss Marple wears boxer shorts, Kit is snooping around Anna’s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who’s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot, six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them.
Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone’s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.
Warning: Contains one irascible, forty-year-old mystery writer who desperately needs to get laid, one exasperated thirty-something ex-cop only too happy to oblige, an isolated country manor that needs the thermostat cranked up, various assorted aspiring and perspiring authors, and a merciless killer who may have read one too many mystery novels.
All She Wrote is the second book of the Holmes & Moriarity series. I’m guessing the title is a riff on Murder She Wrote, a whodunit tv series from days of yore a.k.a days when cable didn’t exist and satellite television was cutting edge.
By the end of book 1, Somebody Killed His Editor, I was warming up to Kit and JX. At the beginning of this installment, Kit took a step backwards with his whining, commitment phobia and comments that were less witty, more bitchy than usual. He described himself as a curmudgeon and I do understand that he was burned before. His husband cheated on him with no less than his PA who was younger hence his tendency to blow his super minor 5-year age difference with JX out of proportion and “carry on like a 70-year old”. Meanwhile, JX completely won me over with his understanding of Kit’s issues and his trademark blunt but constructive commentary.
J.X. said calmly, “You know what, Kit? I’m a big boy. I can look after myself. I know that right now the idea of a relationship paralyzes you. But I think you do care for me, or you wouldn’t have had the hospital contact me when you were hurt, and I’m willing to hang in here for a while longer. You’re worth it.”
My heart was hammering as though I was having a panic attack. “What if I hadn’t called you?”
“I don’t know. I can’t do this on my own, obviously. I wanted you to try and
meet me halfway. Or as close to halfway as you could handle. That’s what this feels like.” He shrugged.
There were major character and relationship developments here. Kit didn’t let me down after all. He bucked up and met JX halfway. He even discovered a side to himself he didn’t know exist. Attaboy, Kit!
There is also a running joke in the series where everybody can’t seem to take the Miss Butterwith books seriously, throwing shade now and then. Except JX who believes Kit is talented but is hiding behind his cozy mystery books. I also want Kit to get out of his comfort zone. I hope Josh Lanyon resolves this thread.
There was a going nowhere feel on the mystery part but at the same time, I was riveted to the audiobook because Lanyon knows her business and Kevin R. Free is a great narrator. Kit and JX had no concrete evidence, mostly conjectures by the former. They were running around in circles and hitting brick walls. There were a bunch of supposedly eccentric characters, none of whom were interesting or likable. The deaths were not particularly gory, just emotionally painful. The motive was so goddamn vindictive and, IMO, petty, you will hate the already unlikable villain even more. As usual, I couldn’t guess who the killer was but on hindsight, one of the character’s less than forthcoming attitude should have tipped me off. Damn! I was also bracing myself for a hanging thread because that how she rolls but Lanyon kindly gave her readers closure on a key plot point so the book ended with me feeling contented.
So while the mystery was not as fun as the last, I liked where Kit and JX are heading. Here’s hoping they get there.
Comments on Somebody Killed His Editor here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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