Rating: 4.5 🌈
Maniac brings Onley James’ Necessary Evils to a close as you’d expect from a series about a family of psychopaths and their partners. It’s ends on an assassin’s revenge, death, and a bang on conclusion that brings the entire Mulvaney clan, extended family and friends together for one last murderous investigation and romance.
The Mulvaney storyline and romantic drama features the head of the family, Thomas Mulvaney with an emphasis on his past, and the odd adopted “child” of the Mulvaney brood. That’s Aiden, who came into the family as a young teenager from a well connected family who pressured Thomas to take him.
Here we learn the details of Aiden’s adolescent, the events that led him to Thomas and the Mulvaney family. And what’s been behind the bitterness and sadness that’s kept Aiden and Thomas apart for years.
Unsurprisingly, we’re dealing with a tragic and traumatic childhood. One rife with parental abuse , intentional cruelty, and malicious neglect. All of which have had consequences in the past as well as present a variety of ways.
James brings in several new characters like Lola who works with Aiden as well as familiar ones like Calliope, her son and his partner, Atticus and Jericho’s adopted “kids”, who soon will get their own series.
If there’s one issue, and it can’t be helped, it’s a surfeit of characters. You have all the original Mulvaney children, and now their partners/ fiancées/husbands, plus children/grandchildren, the nanny/baby mother, computer genius Calliope, her son and his lover, and any extra cast we’ve had thrown in along the way. It’s a lot to ask of the reader to remember each couple’s relationship dynamics, their stories, and even how the unique personalities and special groups play out within the family structure.
All that on top of a messy emotional connection that’s in need of resolution and balance between Aiden and Thomas.
I haven’t even begun to touch on the blackmail that the launching point for all the events and emotions (from those that are capable of them) within the family business and structure.
Basically a family of psychopaths go to war! It’s that simple and it’s extremely complicated.
Did I enjoy it and appreciate the nuances that James brought to Thomas and the various perspectives on his upbringing? Absolutely. From Thomas’ viewpoint of himself as the one responsible for certain events, to , even though he was a child without support, his own family’s clear vision of Thomas and his role within the past.
Reminder that this is dark fiction and it’s subject matter, although not necessarily with elements that “happen on page” are full of issues that might be considered triggers for some people. Rape, torture, manipulation, child abuse and neglect are key topics. So be aware.
So as a finale , things are pretty well sorted and done for each couple by book’s end. We know where each couple is as a family and within the Mulvaney’s as a whole unit. It feels complete.
And James assures us that we haven’t seen the last of them as they will continue their secret life as assassins. It won’t surprise anyone to see them appear in the upcoming spinoff series that starts with Jericho’s Boys. They are a group already adopted into the inner circle of The Mulvaney family.
For more information, see below. Until then, for lovers of dark contemporary fiction, I’m recommending this. Read the series in the order that it is written.
Necessary Evils series:
✓ Unhinged #1
✓ Psycho #2
✓ Moonstruck #3
✓ Headcase #4
✓ Mad Man #5
✓ Lunatic #6
✓ Maniac #7 – finale
Two upcoming spinoff series, The Watch and Jericho’s Boys, the first of which Paladin #1, is coming April 30, 2023
Maniac (Necessary Evils Book 7)
Thomas Mulvaney was just a child when an error in judgment cost him everything. He vowed then that he would do anything to atone for his mistake. And he did. He never strayed from the right path. Until Aiden.
Aiden Mulvaney doesn’t exist. He’s a lie created by the father who disowned him and by Thomas Mulvaney, the only man Aiden had ever begged to love him. But that was years ago, when he’d still believed in fairytales. Before Thomas rejected him.
Thomas has spent years trying to have Aiden in his life while keeping him at arm’s length, but Aiden’s done with half-measures. He’s done with Thomas the martyr. He’s just done. So, he’s kept his distance. Trouble is, now, someone is threatening to expose a secret that affects them all.
No, not that one. A secret so shameful, Thomas won’t even utter it out loud. Can he and Aiden revisit the past and keep the family name intact, or will they both be buried beneath the weight of their memories as their old feelings resurface?