Title: All She Wrote (Holmes & Moriarity #2)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Characters: Christopher Holmes, J.X. Moriarity
POV: 1st person
Sub-Genre: Murder Mystery
A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly the death of Anna Hitchcock, the much-beloved “American Agatha Christie” and Christopher Holmes’s former mentor. Anna’s plea for him to host her annual winter writing retreat touches all Kit’s sore spots—traveling, teaching writing classes, and separation from his new lover, J.X. Moriarity.
For J.X., Kit’s cancellation of yet another romantic weekend is the death knell of a relationship that has been limping along for months. But that’s just as well, right? Kit isn’t ready for anything serious and besides, Kit owes Anna far too much to refuse.
Faster than you can say “Miss Marple wears boxer shorts”, Kit is snooping around Anna’s elegant, snowbound mansion in the Berkshires for clues as to who’s trying to kill her. A tough task with six amateur sleuths underfoot. Six budding writers with a tangled web of dark undercurrents running among them.
Slowly, Kit gets the uneasy feeling that the secret may lie between the pages of someone’s fictional past. Unfortunately, a clever killer is one step ahead. And it may be too late for J.X. to ride to the rescue.
Yes, I know. This book was published nearly a year ago. Yes, I know. I’m probably the last person on the planet to have read it. But hey, better late than never, right?
Written in the vein of the Golden Age of British detective fiction, mystery writer Christopher Holmes is drawn into a murder mystery of his own when he’s invited to the posh country manor of his former teacher/mentor Anna Hitchcock to do some of his own amateur sleuthing, though he’s initially lured there under false pretenses. Christopher believes he’s been summoned to Anna’s estate to lead a gathering of the Asquith Circle in Anna’s stead, after she’s taken a dreadful spill down the icy steps in her garden. A series of random, seemingly unrelated accidents leads Anna to deduce she’s become the target of a killer, and she’s enlisted Christopher to help find the clues to stop the unknown assailant before it’s too late. Is she truly marked for death? Or is she merely the victim of a series of unfortunate events? Well, that’s half the fun of the Holmes & Moriarity series, isn’t it? The mysteries. The other half is the relationship between Christopher and J.X. Moriarity, and the “are they/ aren’t they, will they/won’t they” question that left us all hanging at the end of Book One.
Several months have passed since Somebody Killed His Editor at a author’s retreat in Northern California, where J.X.—the ex-cop, über-successful author, wanna-be love interest to Christopher’s oh-so-tentative, I’m no good at relationships, I’m so old and curmudgeonly self—found himself helping Christopher sleuth out the clues to a murder. How’s that for a mouthful? The bottom line is that J.X. is ready to throw all his chips into the pot and gamble on a future with Christopher. Christopher, on the other hand, has some hang-ups. Big hang-ups, like the fact that his long time partner has recently left him for a younger man, and not just any younger man, but Christopher’s own personal assistant. Like the fact that while J.X. is wildly successful, Christopher’s Miss Butterwith and her loyal cat, Mr. Pinkerton, are merely limping along in their dotage. Like the fact that Christopher’s five whole years older than J.X. Like the fact that he feels much older than those mere five years. Christopher would rather cut his losses and let J.X. go than take the chance that his heart and fragile ego will get trampled on again.
Just when we think it’s all over for the two men, just when we think the impasse can’t be overcome, the plot thickens. Christopher is settled in at Anna’s estate, doing what he’s meant to do—fostering the novice writers, poking around for clues as to who might be trying to off Anna, coming up with lots of viable suspects but no real clues; then the unthinkable happens and Christopher comes face-to-face with death, or darn close to it. Maybe they just rubbed elbows. At any rate, it’s that near-death experience that becomes the catalyst for a turning point in Christopher’s life and in his need for J.X. to be in it. Oh, it’s not all sunshine and roses yet, but it’s partly sunny with carnations and a little baby’s breath thrown in, for sure.
Plenty of motive, means, and opportunity provide Christopher and J.X. with a lengthy list of suspects to weed through and eliminate, though that list begins shrinking as the body count rises, aiding in the process of elimination the hard way. Or the easy way; whichever way you want to look at it, it’s an immensely good time, to be sure.
Josh Lanyon does a fabulous job of keeping the reader guessing until nearly the very end, as Christopher and J.X. lead us along on a fast paced, funny, sexy, twisting and turning mystery within a mystery tour that just keeps twisting until the very end, leaving the reader hanging, yes, hanging by the tips of our fingers on a cliffhanger that promises there’s much, much more to look forward to from these two engaging and loveable heroes.
Reviewed By: Lisa