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    The Art of Murder: The Magician Murders – Josh Lanyon

    Nothing up his sleeves. Nothing but murder…

    Jason West, hot shot special agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team, is recuperating from a recent hit-and-run accident at the Wyoming home of BAU Chief Sam Kennedy when he’s asked to aid in the investigation of a suspicious death in a National Forest.

    When the dead man is found to be the Kosher Conjuror, a much-hated part-time magician accused of revealing the highly guarded secrets of professional illusionists, it seems clear this must be a simple revenge killing—until Jason realizes an earlier suspicious death at the trendy magic club Top Hat White Rabbit might be part of the same, much larger and more sinister, pattern. 

    Who knew Kennedy could be a caring and patient nurse and is capable of shedding tears?! Must be the Jason West effect This is the book where Sam Kennedy melted, not completely but just enough to show he got blood and not ice running in his veins. 

    However, how long is that specter of Ethan going to be a third wheel in their relationship. That question regarding Ethan’s effect on your relationship has been hashed and rehashed already so let it go, Jason. It’s natural you are curious, so go ahead and ask but nobody’s going to like it.

    Special Agent Abigail Dreyfus was the rookie agent partnered with West and whom he hilariously mistaken as a serial killer. I use the word hilarious here but actually I was gullible as fuck and believed it for a second. Anyway, I think Dreyfus is a great addition to Lanyon’s collection of FBI agents. It’s not everyday we get somebody still green enough to bungle up the basics but gets to fight another day. Plus she “had guts and grit”.

    This is the best book of The Art of Murder series so far. Extra points for focusing on magicians and for that trivia on Val Valentine. Now I know who the Masked Magician is. I think Lanyon was dangling some teasers on how magic tricks works, I wished she went ahead and revealed some secrets.  

    The Magician Murders is well-written as usual but one major reason I enjoyed the book and the series as a whole is narrator, Kale Williams. I don’t know how to describe his style exactly but he could read his grocery list and I would still be listening. 

    Holy hell…THAT.CLIFF.HANGER. People are going to lose sleep over that.

    Actually, I was vaguely entertaining an FBI agent slash psycho psychiatrist angle since The Mermaid Murders but the author already gave Jeremy Kyser unattractive features and that usually means a no-go on the romance department. Too bad. It seemed more interesting really.


    Both Adam Darling’s former partners, JJ Russell and Jonnie were present here. I hope we get an update on Adam and Rob soon.


    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: In the Morning of the Magicians
    Artist: Flaming Lips
    Album: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36546086-the-magician-murders)

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    The Art of Murder: The Monet Murders by Josh Lanyon

    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.

    Wow, this… is complicated…

    How awkward and cringe-worthy would it be to see your friend slash almost boyfriend after eight months of flirty, confessional phone calls only to pretend like there’s nothing going on between you? But while I am very tempted to smack stupid Kennedy on the head, I very much approve of their professionalism and competence on the job in spite of so many personal things left unsaid. Despite working together, West and Kennedy might have been oceans apart. I would have happily sailed along with the West + Shipka ship had Shipka not had too many death flags all over him to be a viable love interest for our main guy. I felt sorry for West pining for Kennedy, although at some points it got rather tiresome. It was satisfying to see lone wolf Kennedy struggle to let West into his life, satisfying because he could be cold, aloof and off putting majority of the time. I think Kennedy is an acquired taste, something that I am still trying to get used to.

    This time around, West and Kennedy are working on separate cases. West was investigating a high and mighty art dealer allegedly involved in forgery and larceny while Kennedy was investigating murders where the killer is leaving bad imitation Monet paintings on the crime scene. They found that these two cases might be related so their paths crossed again. As with the first book, The Mermaid Murders, the mystery here was well-written but the suspense was not as tight as that of the first book. As I have the audiobook, I enjoyed listening to West going about his investigation and I felt like I was there, tagging along with him, looking over his shoulder as he conducts his daily business. I like the sense of realism, like the parts where Jason occasionally compares Hollywood FBI to ‘real-life’ FBI, or where cases don’t get wrapped up neatly  and loose ends are sometimes left hanging. And from what I have read of Lanyon so far, the author likes to leave some things hanging. Also something that takes getting used to.

    I’m bumping this series up from 3.5 stars to 4 stars. It is an achievement to keep the reader riveted to the story despite this not having the requisite lovey-dovey romance typical of MM. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, the romance might even be superfluous as the mystery is well-developed and well-executed enough to carry the story on its own. Although, I must admit, that ending was pretty sweet! Happy Birthday indeed!

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits 

    Soundtrack: What the Water Gave Me
    Artist: Florence + the Machine
    Album: Ceremonials

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30245414-the-monet-murders)

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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)