Leland and Jackson are married and settled into a happy, albeit somewhat crazy, life together. Unsurprisingly, Leland once again finds himself amidst chaos when he is threatened into taking a missing person’s case. A woman named Charlotte wants Leland to track down her daughter, who disappeared two years ago. As it turns out, Leland knows Charlotte from way back when during his assassin days, so something is definitely off about the job. But Leland and Jackson also can’t help but want to find the missing girl, so they agree to dig into the case. Unfortunately, things take more twists and turns than they anticipate and it is never quite clear who is on their side and who wants to kill them.
The situation gets even more complicated when Leland’s old handler, Lucas, gets involved. There is nothing Leland wants less than to have to deal with Lucas, but somehow, even in prison, the man has information that may relate to the case. Leland has changed so much since his days with Lucas, but something about him just brings out all Leland’s old insecurities. But Leland is not the man he once was, alone and believing he had nothing to offer. Now, he is surrounded by Jackson and friends who love him. And even as the case gets increasingly complicated, the one thing Leland knows is that he will do anything to protect the ones he loves.
The Hitman’s Guide to Righting Wrongs and Causing Mayhem is the fourth book in Alice Winters’ excellent Hitman’s Guide series (fifth if you count the connected side story, The Former Assassin’s Guide to Snagging a Reluctant Boyfriend). In this story, we pick things up around Christmastime after Leland and Jackson have gotten married. The case involves tracking down a missing girl, but it is much more complex as it is never quite clear who to trust and the investigation twists and turns. I always enjoy seeing how Leland’s mind works and how the men put the pieces together, particularly when they are joined by Henry and Cassel. And this case has Winters’ signature combination of thrills, excitement, and humor that really is the hallmark of this series. I will admit to finding the mystery a little confusing, however. Keeping track of who everyone was, plus their various motives, just got a little away from me, so while I enjoyed the mystery, I am not sure I totally followed it all. Also, full disclosure, I was sick with Covid as I read the book and it is possible I was just being a little foggy headed.
The standout for me here is the focus on the relationships and that comes through so nicely in this story on many levels. As always, we see how much Leland and Jackson just adore one another, and they are so sweet together. I mean, they are both kind of insane, but they also are so totally devoted to one another that they just take everything pretty much as it comes. They are joined by Henry, Cassel, and Jeremy, and we see what a close knit group these men have become. There is a lovely scene where the men open their Christmas gifts and we see just how much these guys care about each other, even as they often drive one another crazy. Winters sets things up nicely here by showing us this found family Leland now has and juxtaposing this with his scenes with Lucas. Lucas thinks Leland is weak because he now has vulnerabilities in the form of these people he cares about, and Leland worries he isn’t strong enough. Yet we see when it comes down to it, these bonds only make Leland stronger. There are some really nice moments here, both between Jackson and Leland, as well as among all the men, that really highlight how far Leland has come and how much these people mean to one another.
This is such a fun series and I just love the whole cast of characters. Winters is such a master of mixing humor and suspense, and of making the absurd somehow sweet at the same time. It was great to catch up with Leland and Jackson once again and I really enjoyed this story.