To imply Special Agent Jason West is a bit of a basket case means you must know him intimately—much like Chief Sam Kennedy does. He knows that the stalker who has been threatening Jason is still out there and the fact that he can’t always be with Sam is frustrating them both. As diligent as Jason may be, too much casual drinking and late nights that are interrupted by recurring nightmares have begun to wear him down. His latest case is only adding to his already overtaxed mind. There has been a discovery of a hidden cache of World War II treasure that includes a rare Vermeer.
This isn’t necessarily a new thing as Jason has seen various stolen antiquities surface before. This case, however, is complicated by two things. First, the deceased man in question has left the trove of priceless works of art to his family who swears they don’t have them. Secondly, the guy who “liberated” the treasure was under the authority of Lieutenant Commander Emerson Harley, Jason’s beloved grandfather. Since both the thief and his grandfather are deceased, it’s imperative that Jason do everything to clear his grandfather’s name of any hint of wrongdoing. The problem is it goes directly against FBI rules for Jason to head up an investigation where he obviously may have a compromised view of who the criminals really are. So now Jason is hiding from his stalker, from his boss, and even from Sam, the man he loves. He must see this case through, but that could mean the end of his FBI career and of his relationship with Sam.
West and Kennedy are back in the fourth installment of Josh Lanyon’s Art of Murder series. Before I proceed, I must caution you these are not standalone novels; they should be read in order to not only understand the line of work Jason is in, but also his tumultuous relationship with Sam Kennedy. For those who have read the first three books, you are aware that Sam and Jason have finally admitted they love each other and are trying their best to keep a long-distance relationship alive. While this book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per se, if you know Sam and Jason’s history, it won’t surprise you to know that all is not wine and roses for these guys despite their attempts to stay together. If the stalker isn’t trying to kill poor Jason, then the FBI handbook and Sam’s rather rigid view of how others, except himself, should follow the rules laid out in it to the last detail is sparking some friction between he and Jason.
This time Jason has a vested interest in the case he is working on and has pretty much crossed a line he knows might get him into some pretty big trouble. Between the interesting twists and turns this mystery takes, Sam’s minor sexual fling showing up and trying to wrangle a way onto his team, and Jason’s fears of discovering the grandfather he respected and worshipped may have looked the other way and okayed some war time looting, this novel kept me riveted. Once again, this author uses murder, a bit of mayhem, and fiery sexual tension to craft a story that I wanted to start rereading as soon as I got to the end.
Josh Lanyon is the queen of nuance and a master at building a story to an often shocking climactic ending. When you couple that with this rather tortured love affair between Sam and Jason, you have a recipe for a fantastic murder mystery romance that definitely satisfies. Honestly, waiting several more months to a year for the next installment is kind of killing me already. This was a good, good read—the classic Lanyon I have grown to love.
If you haven’t yet picked up this series, I encourage you to do so. If you’re ready for this latest book, I will say that I highly recommend this one—it was entertaining from beginning to end.