Christopher and J.X. are moving in together. Or more to the point, Christopher has agreed to put his house on the market and move to San Francisco. Moving takes a few more days than anticipated when his moving truck has some unforeseen issues and makes a couple of unscheduled stops, but Christopher finally makes it to 321 Chestnut Lane. Just in time for J.X. to head to a conference in Las Vegas. After J.X. tries to talk him into going as well, Christopher assures J.X. his time will be better served unpacking and setting up the house. Christopher never expected to find a dead body in the crate that should have held his Oma’s china.
As seems to be par for the course these days, Christopher is dragged into a mystery, this one involving a dead art thief who stole a ten million dollar coin collection. In the midst of that, J.X. wants Christopher to spend time with Nina, his ex, and her kid and get to know his family while J.X. is still in Vegas. Then a large, strange man is caught peeking in the windows long after Christopher has gone to bed. To top it all off, Christopher has seemed to pick up a stalker, a reporter is hounding him for the inside scoop, and a nosy neighbor is forever under his feet.
With everything coming down around him at once, things are bound to get out of hand. But when J.X. comes home, the dead man’s brother shows himself in a big way and it’s only the beginning of Christopher and J.X.’s problems. The pressure of moving in together, taking on a new family, and giving up everything he’s ever known gets to Christopher. Second thoughts and things left unsaid could lead to their end, but not before the man stalking Christopher has his chance at them first.
The Boy With The Painful Tattoo is the third book in Josh Lanyon’s Holmes and Moriarity series. I’m going to start with the title because it plays a big part in this book and not the way you’d think. Lanyon is clever. More clever than most of you think. Yes, there is a boy in this book (well, he’s more of a man, I believe) and he does have a painful tattoo. But he is not at all what this book is about. He is merely part of the book. No. A lot of this book is Rachel trying to convince Christopher, who is going through a midlife writing crisis, to write Scandinavian crime fiction, which have titles such as—you guessed it—The Boy With The Painful Tattoo. And to top it off, our resident cozy mystery novelist gives us a cozy Scandinavian crime mystery. Well, without the setting. But yes, it’s otherwise perfect. Clever.
Fast forward from All She Wrote four months, and we find Christopher and J.X. more in love than we may have thought possible. What I love about their relationship in each book is how Lanyon finds a way to progress them just that tad bit further. In book one, it was the reunion after ten years. In book two it was the “taking a break” only to find one another weeks later. And now, it’s moving in together. I love that they’re a real couple in romantic fiction. They fight and it hurts. It hurt me. My heart was so sad that I wanted to cry big fat tears when J.X. closed himself in his office or when they went to bed without working out their problems. But it was real and still beautiful because when they worked it out it was a relief, almost like my heart didn’t know if they would this time—even though I knew they had to. Damn, that Josh for writing so well.
Christopher—I’m shaking my head right now, you just can’t see it—poor, sweet, not so naïve Christopher. The guy just can’t help himself. Always diving head first into a case no matter how hard he tries not to or how much he says otherwise. He always finds himself in the forefront of the action. And J.X., being the honorable boyfriend he is, is right by his side. I find it humorous how each time in this series Christopher finds himself in sticky/dangerous situations of his own makings. But oh, the tension Lanyon creates with those moments. I love it.
The writing as always is immaculate. The storytelling is second to none. Can I just say there are times I almost fear picking up a Lanyon book because I know I’m not going to get any sleep? But then I do it and, no I don’t get any sleep, but I don’t care. It’s totally worth it. This book was totally worth it. The words and air of this book are so light and smooth and fun. I love it all so much. I want to share with you some of the moments I loved so much:
“Our first argument in our new home. I never thought this day would come.” At my mock-mournful tone, J.X. made a snorting sound of his own.
“We’re not arguing. We’re discussing.” His hand stroked the curve of my back.
“Ah. But only because of my sunny good nature that never takes offense.” His hand made another of those slow, seductive passes down my back. I swallowed. “No matter the provocation.”
“Mr. Holmes,” Laura said forbiddingly. She was a tall and chilly blue-eyed blonde. Castilian Spanish, according to J.X. who got his own warm coloring from his “Black Irish” father. If Laura ever got tired of terrorizing in-laws, she could always find work as a butler, scaring tradesman away from the front entrance of Persnickety Manor.
“Mrs. Moriarity. I understand there’s a plumbing emergency.” Now I sounded equally grave. The specialist flown in from Zurich for consultation. Code Blue! Code Blue! Find me a plunger STAT!
“I’ll make it fast. Try and rest, okay?”
“Okay. But if you do love me, hurry the hell back. I am seriously freaked out about this place. Don’t be misled by my brave front.”
Christopher and J.X. have long been a favorite couple of mine, but so much in love, they are one of my all-time faves.
And maybe one of my favorite parts of this book is the smallest of cameos by Adrien English and Jake Riordan. Cue fangurl squees. Yes, ma’am. Jake and Adrian and steak and mushroom pie and even The Cloak and Dagger gets a shout out. I was in Josh Lanyon fangurl heaven for a moment. I wanted to have time to pull out all my Adrien English books and re-read them right this moment. As it is, I’m going to do so very soon.
So why, you ask, did I give this book I seem to love so much an almost, but not quite, perfect rating? Well, my reasoning comes in the form of the killer and the why. I’m not going to tell you who the murderer is, because that would defeat the purpose of you reading this masterpiece, but as to why, we never find out. I mean, it’s speculative at best, but after all the searching and running and hiding and Christopher’s near misses, I felt just a tad cheated to not know why the killer killed the guy in the first place.
Nonetheless, this book is fabulous. Absolutely and completely worthy of your time and lack of sleep. It certainly was worth mine. I’m crossing my fingers in hopes of more Holmes and Moriarity very soon because I love these guys. Will Christopher give up writing altogether? How will Christopher’s family react to J.X.? How will J.X.’s family react to Christopher? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. And wait I shall. I highly, highly recommend The Boy With The Painful Tattoo by Josh Lanyon.