Sebastian Snow, having survived an attempt on his life, is looking forward to some peace. He’s moving in with the love of his life, Detective Calvin Winter, his antiques emporium is doing well, and he’s sponsoring a large antique convention. Everything is going along swimmingly until a giant box is shipped to his store. It contains an original kinetoscope (where the very first moving image pictures could be seen in a single, one person, viewer) and a few films. There’s no return address or note in the box, and when Sebastian and his employee, Max, decide to check it out, one of the films is actual footage of a 100+ year old murder. Shocked, Sebastian and Max try to decide what to do next. This kicks off a series of violent events that leads to Sebastian doing a little sleuthing on his own.
Detective Calvin Winter is head over heels in love with Sebastian and is so happy they’re taking their relationship to the next level. After almost losing Sebastian, he’s ready to settle in to their new life. He’s also faced some demons of his own, mainly the PTSD he’s suffering from his time in the military. All he wants is to do his job and make sure Sebastian is safe. However, how can he do that when someone is shooting out the windows of Sebastian’s emporium and dead bodies begin to turn up?
Even though Calvin begs Sebastian to leave the crime solving to him and the police, Sebastian can’t resist sleuthing, and soon he’s in trouble up to his ears and then some. Now, the men must figure out who is after the kinetoscope and the films, and why they’re so important. Will they solve the mystery, or will their new life together end before it can get started?
I love the Snow and Winter series! I’ve been happily reading/reviewing the books from the beginning. Sebastian and Calvin are two of the most memorable characters I’ve ever come across. They’re smart, funny, charming, and sexy. They’ve got a fiery chemistry that enhances the well-written and plotted mysteries the men solve (more or less) together. Book three is just as exciting as book one and two. No momentum is lost, and nothing has grown old or stale.
Here in this third installment, Sebastian and Calvin are starting their new life together. They’re more in love than ever, and they’re very happy. Surrounded by family and friends, they feel as if it’s safe to relax after the last case. It had been rough, but it’s calmed down. Calvin has finally accepted he was suffering from PTSD and has started seeing a therapist and gotten a service dog. Sebastian is trying to broaden his business by sponsoring an antiques convention. As I said, their story hasn’t grown boring or repetitive. This is a completely new idea, and it’s just as interesting as the others. Once again, I found myself having learned something completely new. I knew of kinetoscopes from various history books and shows on television. I never really gave them much thought until this book. It’s actually a fascinating machine…a true technological achievement for the time (late 1800s). I really like how the author is able to give detailed descriptions of the machine and the actual film without it becoming tedious or overwhelming. She was also able to make it fit exactly where it should in the story so there’s buildup, but it doesn’t overtake the human characters.
Now, this is a murder mystery, so you know bodies will turn up and clues will come from all sides. It’s all compelling, but not so complicated or overwhelming. I did feel this one was a little more detailed than the first two books in the series. I paid attention, though, and was able to follow along easily. The murders were gruesome, but not obnoxious. There were plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing. I do confess to figuring it out before the big reveal, but it was still satisfying. This author never disappoints. It’s obvious a lot of research was done before the book was written. It was organized, smoothly written, never choppy, and had a nice flow. There was excitement, humor, and charm thrown in with the action and dead folks. It’s all written from Sebastian’s POV and I liked that. He’s intelligent, soaks up information like a sponge, and has an amazing memory. He’s also got a very dry, self depreciating sense of humor that kept me laughing from beginning to end. Even when it seems like his world is crumbling under the pressure of shootings, robberies, bodies in the dumpster, and even an ex lover of Calvin’s, he’s able to see the humor in most everything.
I don’t want to give anything away. This is a well and proper mystery and I believe you should read it yourself to get the full effect and enjoyment of the story. It’s entertaining and interesting. I will tell you, I was impressed. I read it from beginning to end in one sitting. I absolutely had to know what was happening next. I also really enjoyed the romantic aspect of the book. Sebastian and Calvin have a great sexual chemistry with just the right amount of sweet to go with the heat. The sex scenes were nearly perfect. I like some dirty talking to go along with them and Calvin is a master. Sebastian is a little nervous when it comes to it, but his skills are improving and that takes Calvin over the moon. There’s a scene that takes place in the bathroom of Sebastian’s father’s house. I had to fan myself afterward. Seriously.
As usual, there are a few background characters who are important to The Mystery of the Moving Image. One is Sebastian’s faithful employee, Max. He’s the perfect foil for Sebastian. He idolizes his boss and will do almost anything to help him. Max is also a bit of comic relief when things start to get heavy. Quinn is Calvin’s partner, and she’s also a friend. She’s always concerned about him and his PTSD, and she’s got his back through everything. Neil is Sebastian’s ex, and he works CSU with the police department. While he and Sebastian aren’t what I would consider friends, he’s there for Sebastian when he needs someone and he is relatively protective of him as well. Finally, there is Sebastian’s father. He loves his son so deeply. He also loves Calvin and wants nothing but happiness for them. There are a number of other characters in the story that play their roles well (including the bad guy, but I’m not saying who). They all tie in nicely and none of them are overwhelming to the MCs.
The ending is neat and clean. Everything made perfect sense. I was never confused or disappointed. It wasn’t over too quickly. Some mystery stories have the big reveal, and it’s suddenly just…over. I was impressed with how it all came together, and Sebastian and Calvin and I all got what we needed. The great thing about all of this is, as long as the author wants to write these novels, there is plenty of material to draw from, and lots of fun and interesting things Sebastian and Calvin can get themselves into. While you don’t necessarily need to read the first two books of the series, I can’t help but recommend you do simply because they can give you some insight into Sebastian and Calvin and what makes them tick. Also, they’re awesome stories in their own right. I highly recommend you pick this one up, especially if you’re a mystery fan or a lover of history and nifty factoids. I can’t wait to see what else C.S. Poe has in store.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.