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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)