My Rating: 5 stars Read: 4/11/2017
Release Date: 2016
Audiobook narrated by Kale Williams released June 2016
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.
The Huntsman is still out there…and the killing has begun again.
I’ve been reading a lot of mystery/thrillers lately, so I decided to pick up this Josh Lanyon to get my m/m romance fix along with a mystery.
In “The Mermaid Murders”, John Lanyon shows she knows how to write a solid murder mystery and m/m romance, and how to combine them without skimping on either one, which is quite a feat.
The story has Jason, an FBI agent with a specialization in art theft being teamed up with a renown FBI serial killer hunter, Sam Kennedy, to investigate a murder. Jason was assigned to Kennedy because Jason’s boss has a grudge against Kennedy and hoped Jason could get some dirt on him. (I assume the fact that Jason is an art specialist will figure more in future books in the series, though it was used to some effect in this one too.) Instead of being a useful stooge, however, Jason is impressed by the older agent and eventually becomes involved with him. The case revovles around the apparent return of a serial killer called The Huntsman that Kennedy put away years ago. Is it a copycat? A disciple? Or did Kennedy get the wrong guy? Kennedy’s reputation is on the line as well as pressure to catch the killer before more young women die.
The murder mystery/police procedural element of the book is well done. Often the murder mystery elements of romantic suspense stories are a bit lame or at least predictable. But this was a good, solid mystery with some red herrings, mistakes, and good intuition on the part of Jason and Kennedy. I never felt like “a cop would never do that” or that the suspects’ actions didn’t make sense. I didn’t guess the killer before I was supposed to, which is always a good sign. 🙂 The breadcrumb clues were well seeded along the way.
The romance was also well done. It’s an enemies-to-lovers set-up, and when the romance happens it comes as a surprise to Jason and feels organic, like something a guy like Kennedy would do. There are no hearts and flowers here, just realistic needs and drives from two gay men who are usually on the road and have little opportunities to meet potential partners. There are a few on page sex scenes, explicit but not overdone, and some angst. But since the book is mostly focused on the case, the romance angst was never the primary thing going on, which made it more bearable. I felt there was enough of the romance element in the book to satisfy me, certainly more than in Josh Lanyon’s early books. This is a full on romance.
As a side note: I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Kale Williams. I didn’t like the narrator, especially the low rasp he used for Kennedy, which made him sound creepy. But I was able to listen to the audiobook anyway. I’d give the narrator 3 stars, but this review is for the text, which gets 5 stars from me.