Three months after the disaster of a writer’s retreat that brought Christopher Holmes to J.X. Moriarity, Christopher is falling victim to his normal insecurities. It doesn’t help that he’s found an excuse to bow out of almost every chance to spend time with J.X. over the past three months, only seeing him three times. But now he’s cancelling again to fly across the country to aid his mentor who took a nasty fall down some icy stairs. Of course J.X. takes it as Christopher’s unwillingness to commit, effectively ending their relationship and telling Christopher to call when he’s ready for a man in his life.
When Christopher arrives, Anna outlines her plans to have him lead her writing group for the weekend, but she also confesses another motive for inviting him up. Someone is trying to kill her. And as she is a big name in town, she doesn’t want to go to the police for fear that they’d see it as a publicity stunt, so she enlists Christopher’s help.
While getting to know the inhabitants of the mansion and the writing group, Christopher follows the stories—the literal stories of the writing group—and finds some of them may be more truth that fiction. But just as he feels he’s nearing a lead, disaster strikes, landing him in the hospital and leaving a beloved of the group dead. And in his hour of need, Christopher asks for J.X, who comes running.
Now with a broken clavicle and J.X. by his side, Christopher steps up his amateur investigation, all the more certain someone is out to get Anna, but the killer is closer than they think. And when the killer attacks again, this time poisoning an entire household, killing another of the group and nearly taking J.X. with them, Christopher wants nothing more than to find whoever is threatening the people he cares for. More than that, he realizes than even at his most selfish, he would do anything to keep J.X. safe. Even if that means walking away from the investigation as long as the killer doesn’t get to him first.
All She Wrote is the second book in Josh Lanyon’s Holmes & Moriarity series. I absolutely love these books. Lanyon has me by a string and refuses to let me go, but I’m totally okay with it. Once again, Christopher falls into a mystery by happenstance and drags J.X. kicking and screaming along with him. I love this story, and the series, for the simple fact that Lanyon keeps me guessing the entire time. “I never saw that coming” is a common phrase heard round the world when reading Lanyon stories and this one is no different. I totally did not see it coming. Would have never guessed. And that’s what makes me love it that much more.
Christopher takes a new leap in this book… well, several actually. But I think this book is where he sort of figures himself out. He has issue with the fact that he’s five years older than J.X. He is still wallowing in the fact that his long-time lover left him for his younger PA. And his career is still struggling, though admittedly not as much. This all sound familiar? Yes? That’s because Christopher complained about it all in the first book, but he never really dealt with it. In this book, he’s forced to deal with is fear of commitment and intimacy issues, with the small and very minor age difference that he’s blown out of proportion, and with his writing (although, facing his writing struggles takes a backseat to the rest.) And I think he finally learns his lesson, grows from it. And all of that has to do with J.X. and, in a strange way, Anna for guilting him into traveling across the country to play amateur sleuth.
Ah, J.X. There’s so much to say about the man. The one thing I love about J.X.—the one thing I’ve always loved about him—is his willingness to listen to Christopher. Yes, I get that sometimes he’s only humoring him or patronizing him, but for the most part, even if he doesn’t agree, J.X. gives Christopher the benefit of the doubt and compromises what he knows and has learned as a former cop, to play sleuth with Christopher. To make him happy. Though I’m not sure Christopher has seen that yet. J.X. is quite possibly the most patient man on the planet, to the point of sainthood. Really.
The many different theories that interweave throughout this story are so very engrossing and delightfully distracting, which is something I find so fabulous about this and many of Lanyon’s books. Lanyon uses the cozy mystery as a platform to build suspense while building relationships and storylines and theories and creating doubt and suspicion in the minds of characters and readers. It’s exciting and thrilling and frustrating all at the same time and I loved every second of it.
My only complaint with this story comes with the mechanics of Christopher’s broken clavicle. For those of you that don’t know, that’s the collarbone. So Christopher is in a wreck, breaks his collarbone to the point of needing surgery, and is released the next day? First, that is unlikely. But the things he does after he’s released from the hospital are what threw me for a loop. He hikes across a snow covered field—Anna’s land was vast. When he stumbles, J.X. catches him by his bicep and it doesn’t even phase Christopher, no pain or grunt or tears or anything. He has sex. He lays on his side (spoons). He catches/supports Rudolph when he almost collapses. Okay, as I’ve had experience with a broken clavicle that required surgical intervention and have worked in orthopedics, I found absolutely not one of these things doable. Even lying on one’s side hurts so bad, puts so much pressure on that one area, it had me in tears. So for the sake of the mystery, I see why Christopher had to be up and about and had so much to do, but for the sake of fact, I wish the author would have chosen another injury.
Regardless, I loved this story. When I looked past the bending of facts for the sake of the story, I was captivated by this mystery and each and every one of these characters. I continue to adore Christopher and J.X. so much and I’m thrilled about the newest release. I definitely recommend All She Wrote by Josh Lanyon.