Hawes Madigan is the Prince of Killers. Though he hates the nickname, it denotes his status as the heir to his family enterprise — both the legal cold storage company and the illegal group of assassins. With his beloved grandfather in hospice, Hawes knows the reins are going to pass to him sooner than he hoped. Fortunately, Hawes has his twin brother, Holt, and their younger sister, Helena, for support.
When he meets Dante Perry, Hawes finds the private investigator immediately attractive and can’t find himself too worried when Dante warns him that someone in his organization is out to get him. Leading a group of assassins is dangerous work and threats come with the territory. But when someone actually carries out an attack, it becomes clear that there is a real traitor in their midst. While the siblings work to figure out who is behind the treachery, Dante is there offering his help and support. Hawes isn’t sure he can really trust Dante, especially when it becomes clear he has an ulterior motive for helping Hawes, but he also finds Dante has a presence that is comforting in these stressful circumstances. However, Hawes has a dark secret, one that he fears will drive Dante away if he ever learns the truth.
As they dig into who is out to get Hawes, even more threats are made to Hawes, the family, and the company. Hawes is determined to figure out who is behind it all, especially as he will do anything to protect his family. As Dante and Hawes grow closer, Hawes must work to figure out who is threatening all he holds dear, and hope that when the truth comes out about his past, Dante will still be there with him.
Prince of Killers is the first book in Layla Reyne’s new Fog City series and it is off to a fabulous start. I am a big fan of Layne’s writing and so I was excited to see her take on another suspense series set outside her Agents Irish and Whiskey universe. This one had me from the very first pages and I found I just couldn’t put it down. The thriller part of the book is exciting and incredibly well done, the developing relationship between Dante and Hawes is engaging, and I loved the interaction among the Madigan siblings.
This book kept me totally engrossed as it is fast paced and full of twists and turns. The hits keep coming for Hawes and his family with threats constantly appearing and it kept me eagerly turning pages. Layne manages to keep so many moving pieces all working together and the plot is clever and twisty without feeling out of control. All of these folks are hard, brave, and dangerous and so there is also a bit of fun watching them outmaneuver the various threats. It is all just incredibly exciting and well done. As this is the first book in the trilogy, we do get some resolution as to who is behind the initial threat, but there are a lot of plot threads that don’t play out fully here, leaving us plenty of room for things to develop in the next two books. I”ll also note that there is a big cliffhanger here, so be prepared to be impatiently waiting for the next book after you finish this one!
The relationship between Hawes and Dante is also nicely done. There is a connection and great chemistry between them from the start. Hawes just feels a sense of peace with Dante that takes some of the enormous weight off his shoulders. Dante is a man who is strong in his own right, and with Hawes always looking out for others, it is a relief to have Dante in his corner. However, Hawes has a secret involving the death of an innocent, a death he took so hard that he changed the entire operating procedure of his business to help ensure no innocents are accidentally harmed again. But with Dante having an unexplained connection to the victim, Hawes knows there is a potential wedge between them once Dante learns the truth. So Reyne gives us a nice balance here with both the romantic side of things and the lingering fears and doubts between them.
One of my favorite parts of this story is the relationship among the siblings and the focus on the family. Hawes is incredibly close with his brother and sister, and while he is the official head of the company, he runs it with both Holt and Helena. Holt is also married with a baby and Holt’s wife, Amelia, is also part of their crew. I enjoyed the family moments here as this group of hardened killers sits around playing cards or doing everyday family things. It is a nice juxtaposition to see the softer side of the characters and watch them interact on a personal level. Also, they are all kinds of adorable together for fierce assassins. Hawes is older, but the much physically smaller twin, and I got a giggle that they call Hawes “Big H” and the hulking Holt “Little H” because of their birth order. Regardless of how much Hawes cares about Dante, it is clear that this family is incredibly important to him and he is willing to give up his own happiness to see them safe and cared for. It just added a really nice element to the story to see the family aspect integrated so well.
So I absolutely loved Prince of Killers and I am so excited for this trilogy. Although it is a cliffhanger ending, never fear as the books are written and release is scheduled for August and November. So I’ll be impatiently waiting as I am so eager to see where the story goes from here!