So, I might have become slightly obsessed with Josh Lanyon’s mystery/suspense novels…
I’ve been listening my way through the four installments of her The Art of Murder series and since the fifth one won’t be released until next year, I’ve continued on with The Adrien English Mysteries series. To say that I’m completely captivated is an understatement.
The Art of Murder books are – so far – The Mermaid Murders, The Monet Murders, The Magician Murders and The Monuments Men Murders. The main character is Jason West, a Special Agent at the Arts Crime Team of the FBI. And despite the arts-y focus of his work, Jason keeps stumbling into murder investigations.
In The Mermaid Murders, Jason is temporarily paired with the legendary Special Agent Sam Kennedy in an investigation that seems eerily similar to one of Kennedy’s previous cases, the capture of a serial-killer called The Huntsman. Even as Jason and Sam butt heads on the job, that animosity translates to another kind of passion when they fall into bed.
In The Monet Murders, Jason’s and Sam’s respective cases converge. Sam’s investigating the murder of an art dealer. An art dealer who also appears to be connected to the art gallery Jason’s currently investigating for fraud.
In The Magician Murders, Jason and Sam are visiting Sam’s mother in Wyoming while Jason is recuperating from being hit by a car. Despite Jason’s injuries, he’s pulled into the investigation of the theft of a huge art collection from a local magician. The same magician who’s soon found hanging upside down from a tree. Murdered.
In The Monuments Men Murders, Jason is following a lead on a veritable trove of stolen art from WWII. He’s heading the investigating despite his grandfather being implicated as a possible complicit to the thefts. Jason is determined to prove his grandfather innocent, at the same time the stress of having acquired a dangerous stalker is taking its toll.
What I find so utterly engaging with this series (and, to be honest, Lanyon’s writing in general) is the delicious and perfect combination of classic detective mystery with compelling, in-depth, character development and the complicated relationship between the two love interests. Each book covers a new and intriguing case while there’s still an underlying long-term plot continuing throughout the series. Add to that the ups and downs of a romantic entanglement between two colleagues and it’s pretty much perfection.
These stories are exclusively told from Jason’s viewpoint which makes the portrayal of his and Sam’s relationship all the more frustrating. Sam’s gruff as hell, and often appears to be a complete ass. Yet he always manages to redeem himself. It’s an emotional roller-coaster of the very best kind and Lanyon made me feel it all together with Jason. Throughout this series I’ve been mad, sad, joyous and horny. All depending on Jason’s mindset – and Sam’s level of ass-holery. It was awesome.
I can’t recommend this series enough. Just read (or listen) to it. Now.