The Bridge of Silver Wings & This Other Country (More Heat Than the Sun #3&4) by John Wiltshie (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

The Bridge of Silver Wings and This Other Country may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

The Bridge of Silver Wings

Nikolas and Ben discover that bonds aren’t forged with blood or scars, but in the hearts of men strong enough to love.
Siberia in winter isn’t a place for good men.
There is nothing Nikolas won’t do to keep Ben alive.
Nikolas has exorcised his demons, but when they end up stranded in Russia, the monster inside needs to be let loose. Ben discovers the truth of the adage, ‘be careful what you wish for’!

Nikolas then faces an enemy he can’t defeat: Ben Rider himself. Discovering a new family, Ben realizes he’s been living too long in the shadows cast by Nikolas’s all-consuming love. For the first time, life apart from Nikolas is possible.
Is Nikolas strong enough to let Ben go?

This Other Country

Nikolas is the sanest, straightest person Ben knows, so can anyone tell him why he is on a gay-therapy course?

Nikolas Mikkelsen could make a very long list of unpleasant things he’s endured in his life. Then order it from “nearly killed me” to “extremely horrific and don’t want to do again”. And what does it say about his 45 years, that being hit by a tsunami would be considerably way down on this list? But nothing – not torture, imprisonment, or starvation – has prepared him for what he now has to endure for Ben Rider’s sake – attendance on a residential gay-therapy course.

At least he has a new contender for the top spot on his “my awful life” list.

Rating: Narration – A+; Content – B+

The Bridge of Silver Wings and This Other Country are books three and four in John Wiltshire’s More Heat Than the Sun series of thriller/romantic suspense novels following the exploits of Ben Rider, a former SAS operative, and enigmatic (ex) diplomat Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, two of the most stubborn Alpha Males who ever stubborned. The books are characterised by fast-paced, dramatic plots – there’s no such thing as ‘low-drama’ in Ben and Nik’s world – lots of humour, terrific dialogue and the continually evolving relationship between the two leads, a pair of complex, damaged and compelling individuals who aren’t always likeable but who always manage to be fascinating.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Temporary Partner (Valor & Doyle #1) by Nicky James

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Can two rivals work together to solve a case?

When an infant is taken from his carriage in broad daylight, missing persons detective, Quaid Valor, must race against the clock to find the child and bring him safely home to his family. Unfortunately, Quaid’s partner isn’t available, and his team is spread thin. Begrudgingly, Quaid must accept the help from his rival, homicide detective Aslan Doyle, if he wants to get the job done.

Aslan is Quaid’s opposite in every way. He’s bold, outspoken, arrogant, and the office playboy. And much to Quaid’s chagrin, Aslan seems to have set his sights on Quaid as his next conquest.

Quaid doesn’t have time to deal with Aslan’s flirty behavior when he’s trying to solve a case and juggle his cheating ex’s incessant interruptions.

It doesn’t matter how attractive Aslan is or the undeniable chemistry they seem to have. Getting involved with Aslan would be a huge mistake.

But as tension with the case builds, Quaid keeps forgetting he’s supposed to hate this new partner. Maybe Aslan is exactly the kind of distraction he needs.

Temporarily at least.

Right?

Rating: A-

Temporary Partner, the first book in a new series of romantic mysteries from Nicky James, features two rival detectives who team up to solve a missing persons case.  It’s a thoroughly entertaining read and I raced through it in a couple of sittings; it’s fast-paced, tightly-plotted and the sexual tension between the two leads is off-the-charts.

In the short prequel, Department Rivals (available through the author’s newsletter), we were introduced to detectives Quaid Valor of the Missing Persons Unit and Aslan Doyle (yes, his mother was a Narnia fan!) from Homicide.  There’s a long-standing and not at all friendly rivalry between Homicide and the MPU at the Toronto Police Service, and in that story, the higher-ups arrange a team-building exercise in which a detective from one division partners with a detective from the other in order to solve a case-like puzzle.  Of course, the department playboy – Doyle – is partnered with the standoffish, anally-retentive Valor, and while neither is impressed with the other, they’re rather annoyed to find they work surprisingly well together.  It’s not absolutely necessary to read that first, but it’s a quick read and a fun introduction to the characters.

Temporary Partner opens a few months later when Quaid is called in after a five-month-old baby goes missing, snatched from the back-yard of his very well-to-do family home.  Time is of the essence in these cases and Quaid needs to get the ball rolling quickly, but his regular partner is currently on leave dealing with a family situation and all the other detectives in the MPU are on assignment so Quaid’s boss requests help from other departments – which is how come Aslan Doyle ends up working the case. Quaid isn’t best pleased – but it’s Doyle or no-one if he wants to find little Matthieu and return him to his parents safe and sound.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Out of the Ashes (Ashes & Dust #3) by Jenn Burke

out of the ashed

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Some bonds weren’t meant to be broken.

Vampire PI Evan Fournier has dealt with his fair share of danger and heartache, but nothing prepares him for the pain of a broken bond with his mate—especially when his mate is the one who severed it. Bond or no, he still loves Colin—fiercely. Trust, however, is harder to come by. And when a demon starts terrorizing paranormals in Toronto, trust in one another is exactly what they’ll need.

Former firefighter turned crime-fighting phoenix Colin Zhang knows who Evan was—is—to him, but he doesn’t know if he can give him what he wants. He just needs a little time to figure things out. Unfortunately, bringing down a demon bent on mass murder leaves little time for anything else.

The only way they’ll destroy the demon is by teaming up with an unlikely partner to infiltrate a gang of terrorists. But the only way they’ll save themselves is by finding a path back into each other’s arms—and hearts—once again.

Rating: B

Out of the Ashes is the third and final book in Jenn Burke’s Ashes & Dust series of paranormal romances set in and around Toronto, featuring vampire investigator Evan Fournier, his lover Colin Zhang – a phoenix – and their extended family of werewolves, vampires, witches – and a god.  The author does include information about the previous instalments for readers new to the series, but I’d advise reading the books in order so as to fully understand the character backstories and the emotional impact of past events.

Please note that there are spoilers in this review.

At the end of House on Fire, Colin made the decision to break the bond that had accidentally formed between himself and Evan (in All Fired Up).  It was risky, but he’s come through it okay – mostly; while he’s retained his memories and knows who Evan is, he has no emotional attachment to those memories, and Evan can tell that every time Colin looks at him, he sees a virtual stranger.  Understanding why Colin did what he did makes it no less devastating, and Evan is trying desperately to cling to the hope given him by Colin’s confession of love and exhortation to fight for them in the letter he left before he underwent the spell.  But weeks later, and with no indication that anything is changing,  a heartbroken Evan is struggling to keep his depression at bay, wondering how long he’ll be able to keep alive the hope that Colin will come back to him.

At the same time as Evan is trying to come to terms with the fact that the man he loves may never again love him back, the Westerson-Rojas household is reeling from the murder of Hudson’s brother by a demon, and the disappearance of Hudson’s niece Priya, who fears she will be accused of the crime.  And they’re still no nearer to discovering who is responsible for the spate of attacks on members of the paranormal community over the past few months.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Not What It Seems by Nicky James (audiobook) – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

not what it seems

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

They say I killed them. They say I’m sick. They’re wrong. Nothing is as it seems.

Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Cyrus Irvine takes his job and his life very seriously. He is well-respected in his field and has worked hard to get where he is.

But he’s lonely.

When called in to evaluate a murder suspect, the last person he expects to find is the man he slept with a few months ago. The man who ghosted him and wounded his fragile heart.

Ethically, he should turn around and walk away, but he doesn’t. For as much as Cyrus understands the human brain, he can’t understand the pull he feels toward the patient.

One session with River Jenkins and Cyrus is sure of three things: River and everything about his preliminary diagnosis is a lie, his feelings toward River haven’t gone away, and despite his professional code, he isn’t going anywhere.

Someone needs to get to the bottom of this.

Cyrus’ world is turned upside down as he and River team up to find the truth.

During their quest for answers, Cyrus discovers the hardest part of his decision isn’t the risk to his career, but the risk to his heart.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B

Not What It Seems is a standalone romantic suspense story from Nicky James with a premise that drew me in from the moment I read the synopsis. The two protagonists are River Jenkins, a man in his late twenties accused of the murder of three women and Dr. Cyrus Irvine, a renowned psychiatrist in his mid-forties who is called in to assess River’s mental state after his arrest. It’s a difficult book to review – not just because it’s a mystery and I don’t want to give too much away, but also because it took quite a while for me to warm to the characters or invest in their relationship – although many of the reasons for that make perfect sense in the context of who these people are and the situations they find themselves in. I’m sure it takes considerable skill on the part of an author to be able to write hard-to-like characters and make their flaws feel realistic and well-founded, and then to pull them back from being completely unlikeable without giving them a personality transplant. Nicky James manages it here, although it was a close-run thing for a time!

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Father Complex (Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand #4) by Gregory Ashe

father complex

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Having a father can be hard. Being a good one might be even harder.

The call-out for the double homicide, when it comes, is a strange one: two men gunned down in a motel room, no witnesses, no real clues. Even stranger, the men were enemies, and no one seems to know why they were in that motel room together. And stranger still, people won’t stop calling John-Henry Somerset, telling him he needs to find some answers—preferably nice, easy ones—fast.

Hazard and Somers set out to learn what happened, but they quickly find themselves mired in shifting factions: the ultraconservative political machine of the Ozark Volunteers; a liberal activist group protesting the local gun show; a reclusive fundamentalist church; even a hint of Mexican drug cartels. The further they press their investigation, the clearer it becomes that the killer—or killers—wants something, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.

As Hazard and Somers struggle to find the truth, they face trouble at home as well. Their foster-son, Colt, has received a letter from his estranged father, the same man who attacked Colt and Somers in their home. Worse, Colt seems open to more communication, which leaves Hazard grappling with his fears for Colt and his helplessness against a world that seems to be conspiring to take his foster-son away.

But when a pair of gunmen come after Hazard at home, two things are crystal clear: he’s going to get to the bottom of these murders, and he’ll do anything to keep his family together.

Rating: A

Note:  This book is part of a long-running series which really needs to be read in order; there are spoilers for earlier books in this review.

With Father Complex, we’re heading into the home straight of this third Hazard and Somerset series, Hazard and Somerset: Arrows in the Hand.  The guys have been through a significant number of major life changes since we first met them; the original series saw them uneasily reconnecting after more than a decade, starting to work through the various issues between them and – eventually – falling in love.  In A Union of Swords, they’re adjusting to life as a couple with all its ups and downs,  learning how to be in a relationship and then getting married; and in Arrows in the Hand they return from their honeymoon to find themselves becoming ‘insta-parents’ to a troubled teen and working – not always successfully – to redefine and remake their family unit.  There are never any easy answers – these are complex, flawed, very human characters with individual baggage that often has a very real impact on their relationship and family dynamics, from Somers’ need to be liked and his desire to prove himself to his father (regardless of the fact that Glennworth Somerset is an arsehole), to Hazard’s PTSD and the anger issues that have been surfacing more and more frequently in his relationship with their foster son Colt, many of them arising as the result of his complicated relationship with his own – now deceased – father.

But through it all, there’s never been any doubt that these two love each other deeply; they get each other like nobody else ever has (or will) and best of all, they Put In The Work; it’s not easy and often it’s not pretty (they really do know how to push each other’s buttons) but every victory is all the sweeter for being hard won, and one of the many highlights of the series is the way Hazard and Somers are continuing to change and grow while remaining recognisably the same guys we met in Pretty Pretty Boys.

The mystery in Father Complex kicks off when Somers receives the news of a double homicide at a run-down motel, two men shot and killed, no witnesses and no real clues.  After the events of the previous book, Somers is taking on board the fact that his role as Chief of Police means trusting his team to do what they’re supposed to and that he can’t become personally involved in every investigation, so when Dulac asks him to come to the motel to take a look around, Somers initially refuses.  However, learning that one of the victims was engaged to Naomi Malsho – Somers’ former sister-in-law and one of the leaders of the ultra-right wing Ozark Volunteers (and a perennial thorn in his and Hazard’s sides) – and that the other was a liberal activist and son of a family deeply involved in local politics starts the alarm bells ringing.  Sure enough, it’s not long before his father is on the phone demanding he ‘handle’ it, and fast.

Somers brings Hazard in to help with the investigation, and they’ve really got their work cut out trying to figure out why two men with such strongly opposed views were even in the same room to begin with, and then following a winding trail down some dangerous paths and into confrontations with participants at the local gun show, the members of a fundamentalist church/cult and the Ozark Volunteers (Gregory Ashe is a master at writing seriously fucked-up and creepy characters who really make your skin crawl!),  as connections slowly begin to emerge and weave themselves together into an ever expanding web of lies and deceit – with Naomi somehow in the middle of it. It’s an incredibly complex but incredibly well-executed plot as the significance of each seemingly unconnected and confusing clue is revealed and the full picture slowly comes into view.  Watching Hazard and Somers work together so intuitively and seamlessly is always a delight, and I thoroughly appreciate the way they can do that even when they’re at odds off the job.

Tensions are running high at home, especially after Colt receives a letter from his deadbeat dad that pushes Hazard’s curiosity and protective instincts through the roof, and the pair are butting heads even more than usual. I’m sure anyone who has parented a teen will recognise many of the arguments and thought-processes at work here, and it’s tough to watch these two people who so badly want to love and be loved continually hurt each other.  Colt’s a teenager doing what teenagers do, but also, he’s a kid who has never been able to rely on anyone but himself, and who is, deep down, terrified that eventually Hazard will leave him, just as every other adult in his life has done – so he keeps on challenging him and pushing boundaries, which is his mixed-up way of checking that Hazard cares enough about him to keep loving him regardless.  And Hazard, well, sometimes he behaves every bit as badly as Colt does, rising to the bait every time even as he tells himself to be the adult, doing or saying exactly the wrong thing even though he knows it – and doing it anyway.  Unfortunately, this tendency is spilling over into his relationship with Somers, too – especially professionally, where he screws up the investigation or endangers them on several occasions because he can’t keep his mouth shut or his temper under control.  (I really hope he’s going to get some help with his anger issues soon!  If he carries on like this he’s heading for a meltdown of epic proportions.)

After the heartache of watching Somers floundering so badly in the previous book, I was delighted to see him finally starting to get to grips with his new role and moving towards finding a proper work/life balance in this one.  I don’t envy his role as referee in the ongoing Emery-Colt battles, but he’s on much more of an even keel here and is on hand to provide support and a badly needed voice of reason.

The cast of regulars is augmented by North and Shaw, who show up as the unlikeliest cavalry ever – and who inject some quite ridiculous (but needed) light-heartedness into the story.  All is clearly not well with Dulac and Darnell, despite their outward show of having patched things up, and I’m still worried about Nico, who seems to be swinging from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.  With only one more book in the series to go, it might be a bit much to hope there’s room for those issues to be resolved alongside what (from the preview chapter I read) looks set to be an explosive finale… but if anyone can do it, Gregory Ashe can.

Father Complex is another gripping and unputdownable read from a writer at the top of his game, a tough, complex mystery with a rollercoaster ride of breathless emotion on the side.

Criminal Intentions S1E1: The Cardigans by Cole McCade (audiobook) – Narrated by Curt Bonnem

Criminal Intentions S1E1

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When a string of young queer men turn up dead in grisly murders, all signs point to the ex-boyfriend – but what should be an open-and-shut case is fraught with tension when BPD homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji joins up with a partner he never wanted. Rigid, ice-cold, and a stickler for the rules, Seong-Jae Yoon is a watchful presence whose obstinacy and unpredictability constantly remind Malcolm why he prefers to work alone. Seong-Jae may be stunningly attractive, a man who moves like a graceful, lethal bird of prey…but he’s as impossible to decipher as this case.

And if Malcolm doesn’t find the key to unravel both in time, another vulnerable young victim may end up dead.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B+

For those unfamiliar with Cole McCade’s long-running Criminal Intentions series (and to explain the long-winded title!) the series was conceived as kind of a TV show in book format, with one book the equivalent of one episode in a twelve-thirteen episode season. There are currently two complete seasons and season three – the final one, I believe – is underway. The same two protagonists feature throughout; each book boasts a self-contained mystery, there are overarching elements that run through each season, and the central relationship evolves as the seasons progress. CI:The Cardigans, then, introduces those protagonists – homicide detectives Malcolm Khalaji and Seong-jae Yoon – and marks the start of their working relationship as they investigate the murder of a number of young gay men. This is very much a setting-the-stage book in terms of the characters – they’re very intriguing and I’m eager to find out more – and while there’s little more than a whiff of a potential romance (and it’s barely even that), I do know that it happens eventually and I enjoyed this book enough to be prepared to wait and see how it pans out.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Froomkin

proper scoundrelsThis title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Their scandalous pasts have left them wounded and unworthy – and hopelessly perfect together.

London, 1925

Sebastian de Leon is adjusting to life after three years spent enthralled by blood magic. The atrocities he committed under its control still weigh heavily on his conscience, but when he’s asked to investigate a series of mysterious murders, it feels like an opportunity to make amends. Until he realizes the killer’s next likely target is a man who witnessed Sebastian at his worst – the Viscount Fine.

Lord Fine – known as Wesley to his friends, if he had any – is haunted by ghosts of his own after serving as a British army captain during the Great War. Jaded and untrusting, he’s tempted to turn Sebastian in, but there’s something undeniably captivating about the reformed paranormal, and after Sebastian risks his own life to save Wesley’s, they find common ground.

Seeking sanctuary together at Wesley’s country estate in Yorkshire, the unlikely pair begins to unravel a mystery steeped in legend and folklore, the close quarters emboldening them to see past the other’s trauma to the person worth loving beneath. But with growing targets on their backs, they’ll have to move quickly if they want to catch a killer – and discover whether two wounded souls can help each other heal.

Rating:  Narration – A-; Content – A-

Note: Although this is a standalone novel, it is linked to the Magic in Manhattan series; and as there are references to events that occurred in those books, there are likely to be spoilers for the series in this review.

When Allie Therin’s Magic in Manhattan series came to an end last year, I was pleased to learn that she would be writing a spin-off novel that would follow two different protagonists who had previously appeared as secondary characters in the main series. Proper Scoundrels is that spin-off, and I have to admit that much as I came to enjoy the series that spawned it, it is – so far – my favourite of the author’s novels. Plus – and this is a BIG plus – this book benefits enormously in audio from having the always excellent Joel Froomkin as narrator; the earlier series was (unfortunately) performed by a relatively inexperienced narrator who didn’t do it justice.

The action in Proper Scoundrels shifts from New York in 1925 to England later the same year, where we catch up with Wesley Collins, Viscount Fine, who is as prickly, cynical and irritable as ever. Even though he had a fairly large role to play in the events of Wonderstruck, Arthur, Rory and the gang were able to keep him in ignorance of the existence of magic – although unbeknownst to him, his Kensington home is now protected by a magical painting by the paranormal artist Isabella de Leon, which prevents other paranormals from properly seeing the house. As an extra precaution, her brother Sebastian – who has hidden himself away in London to lick his wounds after having been magically enslaved by the evil Baron Keppler – wanders past the place every so often, just to keep an eye out and make sure that Lord Fine is in no danger as a result of his connection to Arthur Kenzie and Rory Brodigan.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Life Lessons (Life Lessons #1) by Kaje Harper (audiobook) – Narrated by J.F. Harding

life lessons

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Tony Hart loves teaching, even though he’s not much older than his high school students. Between his profession, a few good friends, and plenty of books, he’s content with his quiet life. Then, the murdered body of another teacher falls into the elevator at his feet, and Tony’s life becomes all too exciting.

Jared MacLean is a homicide detective, widowed father to a young daughter, and deeply in the closet. But, from the moment he meets Tony’s blue eyes in that high school hallway, Mac can’t help wanting this man in his life. Mac’s not out and can’t afford to be out, but Tony makes him want the impossible.

Mac isn’t the only one with his eyes on Tony, though. As the murderer tries to cover their tracks, Mac has to work fast or lose Tony, permanently.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A-

Kaje Harper’s Life Lessons (first published in print in 2011) is the first in a series of four books that follows high school English teacher Tony Hart and widower and deeply closeted homicide detective Jared Maclean from their very first meeting as part of a murder investigation, through the ups and downs of their relationship to their eventual HEA in book four. I enjoyed the story, the characters, the burgeoning romance and the narration very much indeed (it’s J.F. Harding – duh!) and am very much looking forward to listening to the other books in the series when they’re released.

It’s Friday night and Tony Hart is working late, pretty much the only teacher still in the building at Rooseman High. He’s on his way out when he realises he’s left something up in his third-floor classroom; tired and limping because of a sprained ankle, he decides to take the creaky elevator rather than the stairs. When the doors open at his floor, a man stumbles backward into the car, pushing Tony against the wall. Annoyed, Tony pushes back, wondering if the man – a fellow teacher – is drunk – but then he sees the knife sticking out of his chest. Momentarily paralysed with shock, Tony realises that the pounding he can hear isn’t just the beating of his heart – it’s the sound of someone running away. He hears the door at the end of the hallway swing shut, but by the time he sticks his head out the elevator door, whoever it was is gone.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding #1) by Freya Marske (audiobook) – Narrated by David Thorpe

a marvellous light

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he’s actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. If it weren’t for this administrative error, he’d never have discovered the incredible magic underlying his world.

Cursed by mysterious attackers and plagued by visions, Robin becomes determined to drag answers from his missing predecessor – but he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his hostile magical-society counterpart. Unwillingly thrown together, Robin and Edwin will discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B+

Freya Marske’s debut novel A Marvellous Light is the first in a new historical/fantasy romance series set in Edwardian England. I read it back in December 2021 and enjoyed the clever blend of magic, humour, mystery and antagonists-to-lovers romance, so I decided I’d give it a go in audio as well.

Although he inherited his baronetcy upon the recent death of his father, Sir Robert (Robin) Blyth needs to continue to work in order to support himself and his younger sister; thanks to the excessive spending habits of their parents, their meagre inheritance isn’t enough for them to live on. Robin arrives at the Home Office to take up his new position of Assistant in the Office of Special Domestic Affairs and Complaints without a very clear idea of what the position actually entails; all he knows is that the previous incumbent – Reggie Gatling – disappeared suddenly a couple of weeks earlier, and he honestly suspects his appointment was a mistake. He’s barely taken his seat when a man enters his office and abruptly demands to know where Reggie is. When the man, who introduces himself as Edwin Courcey, liaison to the Chief Minister of the Magical Assembly, starts talking about magic and spells and imbuement, Robin is further baffled and even more convinced that someone is having a joke at his expense. Edwin, exasperated at having to work with someone so obviously clueless, insists it’s no joke, and proves to him that magic really does exist.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Madison Square Murders (Momento Mori #1) by C.S. Poe (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

Madison Square Murders audio

Everett Larkin works for the Cold Case Squad: an elite – if understaffed and overworked – group of detectives who solve the forgotten deaths of New York City. Larkin is different from others, but his deduction skills are unmatched and his memory for minute details is unparalleled.

So when a spring thunderstorm uproots a tree in Madison Square Park, unearthing a crate with human remains inside, the best Cold Case detective is assigned the job. And when a death mask, like those prominent during the Victorian era, is found with the body, Larkin requests assistance from the Forensic Artists Unit and receives it in the form of Detective Ira Doyle, his polar opposite in every way.

Factual reasoning and facial reconstruction put Larkin and Doyle on a trail of old homicide cases and a murderer obsessed with casting his victims’ likeness in death. Include some unapologetic flirting from Doyle, and this case just may end up killing Everett Larkin.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A

C.S. Poe kicks off her latest series of m/m mysteries in grand style with Madison Square Murders, book one in her New York-set Momento Mori series. It’s a clever, tightly plotted mystery featuring one of the most unusual protagonists I’ve ever come across; I loved the story when I read it a few months back and enjoyed it all over again in audio – where there’s the added goodness of a wonderfully intelligent and switched-on performance from Kale Williams.

Detective Everett Larkin of the Cold Case Squad is called to Madison Square Park, where a storm has uprooted an old tree – beneath which lies a wooden crate containing human remains. These are obviously not new, and initial observations by the CSI on scene suggest the body is that of a male in his twenties; most unusual, however, is what has also been found in the crate – a bronze casting of a face. A death mask. There’s no way of telling, at this stage, if the face the mask was made from belongs to the same set of remains or if it’s completely unrelated – and the CSI suggests Larkin should contact Ira Doyle, a detective with the police department’s small Forensic Artist Unit, for some expert advice.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.