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    The Art of Murder: The Mermaid Murders – Josh Lanyon

    Special Agent Jason West is seconded from the FBI Art Crime Team to temporarily partner with disgraced, legendary “manhunter” Sam Kennedy when it appears that Kennedy’s most famous case, the capture and conviction of a serial killer known as The Huntsman, may actually have been a disastrous failure.

    For The Huntsman is still out there… and the killing has begun again.

    Let it be known that the cover bears no relation to the story other than at some point Special Agent Jason West got wet. Also, not to spoil the story but I felt sorry for the perp. His life was ruined because of some mouthy spoiled rich brat. It could have gone another way for him.

    People have complained about the lack of romance but I like the fact that it’s not romance-heavy given that these agents have known each other for less than a week and didn’t even like each other at the start. I would even go so far as to say the romance was unnecessary but since this is MM, romance and sex are almost always a given. If this was a murder mystery story with FBI agents who happened to be gay and do not necessarily fall in love with each other, it would still be as enjoyable. 

    I am not much a fan of the partners-to-lovers trope because the agents tend to bungle up because of some stupid emotion towards their partner (see Agents Irish and Whiskey) but here, both agents kept their heads and most of their professionalism intact. And unlike Agents Irish and Whiskey, this series needs no suspension of disbelief. Both agents were competent and solved the mystery in a timely manner.

    As with the other Josh Lanyon story I have read, The Mermaid Murders focused mostly on the mystery. West and Special Agent Sam Kennedy are tasked to solve the supposed copycat killings in rural Kingsfield. Kennedy had captured the Huntsman ten years ago and now there was a possibility that he either got the wrong man or the serial killer had a disciple. 

    Kennedy, whom almost nobody liked, was good at hunting killers. At first, he and West didn’t get along so well. Kennedy was being an asshole but West proved himself despite serial killings not being his specialty and Kennedy couldn’t help but like him. True to form, he tried to push West away. All West is asking is a date, stupid Kennedy!

    I like West’s specialization. He has a Masters  in Art History which he used in the Art Crime Team. I liked how he compares the things he sees to paintings. Kennedy has a past (of course he has) which he didn’t want to talk about but we’ll see on the succeeding books.

    At the start, I was listening with only half my brain engaged but the story drew me in. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint which part started getting my full attention but halfway through, I was fully invested in the story. It was a good mystery. I was in the dark with who was the real killer until the last part. Then there was the creepy but intriguing doctor who hightailed it when he was being questioned. I had a feeling we will see him in the succeeding books. And the suspense! I almost couldn’t bear the tension when West was down there at the basement. I was anticipating all sorts of bad things happening to him. All I can say is, you got me there, Lanyon!

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Kinder Murder
    Artist: Elvis Costello
    Album: Brutal Youth

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/series/169224-the-art-of-murder)

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    Agents Irish and Whiskey: Blended Whiskey – Layla Reyne

    You’re Invited

    Aidan “Irish” Talley
    Jameson “Whiskey” Walker
    together with their family and friends
    request the honor of your presence
    at their wedding
    Saturday, the Seventeenth of March
    Two Thousand and Eighteen
    at High Noon
    Half Moon Bay, California


    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it

    Soundtrack: This is the Life
    Artist: Two Door Cinema Club
    Album: Tourist History

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39308726-blended-whiskey)

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    Agents Irish and Whiskey: Barrel Proof – Layla Reyne

    FBI agents Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker can’t get a moment’s peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie’s life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

    Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie’s been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan’s late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

    But the explosions are far from over. Aidan’s cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist’s conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

    After meh ratings on Single Malt and Cask Strength, Barrel Proof, managed to  rack up three stars. This is mostly thanks to the narrator Tristan James, who did a superb job wringing out the emotions in that dramatic scene after Cuba. He’s also awesome with accents, doing everything from Bostonian, Irish, Southern and Czech.

    Barrel Proof is all about the end game. Here, we finally meet the notorious and mysterious Renaud who was out for revenge against Silicon Valley execs and financial bigwigs. This is also where we get the most action, starting with that explosive Cuban confrontation and ending with a suspenseful kidnapping situation where everybody had to pray for Mel. Because the book was case-focused, there were less annoying moments where Aidan and Jamie acted ridiculously emotional and more of them doing their jobs. 

    Mel, Danny and Jamie’s bestfriend, Cam were all in on the action. Lauren, with her hacking skills and quirks, was a great addition to the team. Nick the prosecutor also had major pagetime/airtime here and he was not the asshole they made him out to be in the second book. In fact, he turned out to be a really good ally and an interesting character too so maybe a Nick book please? We could all do with more of Nick’s sartorial polish.

    Overall, this series garnered high reviews from fans but for me, there were a lot of unnecessary angst and drama, mediocre storytelling and long drawn out cases that could have been solve faster had everybody been as smart as they purport to be.

    3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it 

    Soundtrack: Bonfire Heart
    Artist: James Blunt
    Album: Moon Landing

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34473508-barrel-proof)