Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Still dealing with the fallout from their recent investigation and murder, mystery author Christopher “Kit” Holmes decided to overcome his misgivings and move in with his lover and fellow mystery writer, Julian Xavier “JX” Moriarity, a decision that has precipitated a move to San Francisco and a new house. What could go wrong?
Well, almost everything. With boxes still piled all around them, JX heads off to the Murder at Midtown conference, leaving Kit to ponder on the wisdom of this latest move…relationship and house. Still, nothing prepares Kit for the dead body under the Styrofoam beads in the crate that should have contained his old and treasured china.
Packing will have to wait while more mysteries pop up to solve along with dead bodies. Who is the dead man? Why is he in Kit and JX’s crate? And importantly, what happened to Kit’s china?
I have been waiting for another book in the Holmes & Moriarity series since December 2010 when I finished the marvelous story, All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity #2). The aftermath of the murders and events of that novel were nothing short of earthshattering. And that story left me wonderfing what would happen next…to both our main characters as well as their relationship. Now, four years later I finally have my answer with The Boy With The Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity #3). Well, sort of, and I couldn’t be happier.
I said “sort of” because as any fan of Josh Lanyon’s and his stories know, nothing is ever a sure thing, including an absolutely happy resolution with his characters or their relationships. Whether it is Adrien English and his lover, the tormented, closeted Jake Riordan (who make guest appearances here), or Kit Holmes and JX Moriarity, the foundation on which their lives and relationships is built lies on shaky ground, a terrain where you almost expect to see the fissures and cracks that habitually appear to threaten their relationship, sanity, and in some cases, their lives. Also well known to us fans is that the source for some of these ruptures and interruptions spring from and are self inflicted by the complex, introspective and wounded men that Josh Lanyon writes so well.
We live in the mind of Kit Holmes in this series and what a mind that is! Highly intelligent, questioning, somewhat quarrelsome, and introspective, Kit’s emotionally and mentally scattered when we jump into their new life and home on Chestnut Lane. His decision, prompted by the awful events in the last book, to move in with JX has seen him give up his home in Southern California to move with all his treasured belongings to San Francisco where JX can be close to his ex wife and nephew (long story, read the books). And at every step and moment we know (as we are listening into his internal monologue) that Kit constantly questions whether he has done the right thing, if their relationship will work out, and how will they juggle the changing dynamics that the reversal in their career fortunes is introducing into their partnership. There is so much stuff crammed into that brilliant skull that it would be exhausting for all trying to untangle it if it wasn’t also so marvelously entertaining. And wouldn’t Kit just hate that!
I adore Kit in all his difficult, brooding glory but I have also fallen in love with JX, a man with his own “quieter” set of issues and problems. JX is an author whose career is on the rise just as Kit’s popularity as an author and mystery genre is falling out of favor. But whereas Kit’s wears his foibles and somewhat contentious nature like a well fitted suit, JX’s flaws and complexities are far more subtle, needing a major crash, explosion or even murder to bring them out into the open. The juxtaposition of these two strong personalities as they struggle to maintain a relationship or investigation makes this series and this book always absorbing and highly addictive.
How can you not love a man whose just had the best, most explosive sex of his life,, and then spends the next moments pondering (internally of course) what’s wrong with it, them and himself? All while still in bed, naked and sweaty? If, as Socrates says “an unexamined life is not worth living”, then Kit Holmes is living life to the fullest!
And there are more joys to be found with this latest installment of Holmes & Moriarity. Their move onto Chestnut Lane has brought them a curious neighbor with the wonderful name of Emmaline Bloodworth. Any one with a familiarity of British cozies should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation. Here is our (and Kit’s) first introduction to her:
I saw a small person of indeterminate sex, dressed in baggy clothes. At first glance it appeared that one of the garden gnomes from next door had come to life. And had something to say about it.
“Good morning!” the gnome greeted me. She had one of those fluting, high voices that brought to mind Sunday school teachers and curators at the most macabre exhibits at the Tower of London. A voice like an ice pick through your left eye socket. “Welcome to the neighborhood. So sorry to disturb you on your first morning, but the movers must have broken one of the sprinkler heads along your front walk.”
As I seemed to be missing the point, she said kindly, “Water is shooting up like a geyser out there. There’s a drought going on, you know.”
She was probably in her sixties, but unlike my former mentor Anna Hitchcock, no effort here had been made to stave off the ravages of time. Not that she looked ravaged. Beneath the wide brim of her hat I could just make out twinkling blue eyes in a round and rosy face.
And yes, she has a cat which just happens to resemble in name and appearance the feline that figures so largely in Kit’s mystery novels. Another mystery to solve? I hope so.
And then there is Inspector Ishwar “Izzie” Jones, SFPD and JX’s former partner, Rachel Ving or Ving the Merciless as Kit’s agent is known who wants Kit to write Swedish type mysteries, JX’s ex wife and former sister in law Nina and Gage, her son and his nephew (really, you must read the first two stories). The Boy with the Painful Tattoo is chock full of the most wonderful characters and intriguing situations you could hope for, especially in ones that act as secondary storylines along side the primary ones of murder most foul and a relationship still looking to find solid ground, albeit temporarily.
Yes, I loved this book, yes, I adore this series and I think any lover of mysteries (M/M or otherwise) will as well. Combine a terrific mystery with two believable and charismatic men trying to balance lives, love, and careers and you have author whose series and main characters should be on everyone’s Must Have, Must Read lists. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the lives of Holmes & Moriarity but if you are new to this couple, start with the first mystery where they are reunited in Somebody Killed His Editor (Holmes & Moriarity #1). Continue onto All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity, #2), before arriving here at The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity, #3). If you’ve been good or perhaps very, very naughty and good, you might find them in your eReader stocking!
I love Josh Lanyon and this story is just another reason why he should be on everyone’s top list of authors whose stories you must have. Consider The Boy With The Painful Tattoo one of my Highly Recommneded Reads!
Cover art by L.C. Chase. Love the cover. It has that sort of Noir feel to it of the older mystery novel covers. Great job.
ebook, 228 pages
Published October 5th 2014 by Just Joshin (first published October 3rd 2014)
original titleThe Boy with the Painful Tattoo
seriesHolmes & Moriarity #3
Books in the Holmes & Moriarity series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the timeline of events and relationship history:
Somebody Killed His Editor (Holmes & Moriarity #1)
All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity, #2)
The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (Holmes & Moriarity, #3)