Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Murder and Mayhem
SERIES: Murder and Mayhem #1
AUTHOR: Rhys Ford
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 236 pages
Dead women tell no tales.
Former cat burglar Rook Stevens stole many a priceless thing in the past, but he’s never been accused of taking a life—until now. It was one thing to find a former associate inside Potter’s Field, his pop culture memorabilia shop, but quite another to stumble across her dead body.
Detective Dante Montoya thought he’d never see Rook Stevens again—not after his former partner’d falsified evidence to entrap the jewelry thief and Stevens walked off scot-free. So when he tackled a fleeing murder suspect, Dante was shocked to discover the blood-covered man was none other than the thief he’d fought to put in prison and who still made his blood sing.
Rook is determined to shake loose the murder charge against him, even if it means putting distance between him and the rugged Cuban-Mexican detective who brought him down. If one dead con artist wasn’t bad enough, others soon follow, and as the bodies pile up around Rook’s feet, he’s forced to reach out to the last man he’d expect to believe in his innocence—and the only man who’s ever gotten under Rook’s skin.
Oh yes…. a new Rhys Ford series! How excellent.
I have been a big fan of all Rhys Ford books, but particularly fond of both the Sinners Gin series, and the Cole McGinnis series, and it’s hard to know they are wrapping up soon. Accepting the end of those series, and the beginning of a new one is hard! But it is Rhys Ford, so we just have to trust that she’ll give us equally as interesting characters and stories. She does that very well with this new book.
Rook Stevens is just the kind of snarky character I like. He’s smart, quick, and knows what he wants, or doesn’t want. He doesn’t take crap from anyone. He has an unusual history to say the least. His mother left her very rich family to join the circus, made a baby with someone but she’s not sure who, had Rook, barely managed to raise him, between leaving him with carnies to raise, truly abandoned him when she found out he was gay, yet somehow managed to not totally fuck him up. She also got him in touch with his grandfather at a time when he really needed some help. Rook learned early in life to support himself, picking pockets, then stealing bigger items as a successful cat burglar. He got in hot water, nearly went to jail, cleaned up his act and opened a store in Hollywood selling collectible memorabilia. Both low end and high. All is well until he goes in to his store one evening and finds a dead woman on his floor. He takes off running when the bullets start to fly, only stopping when he’s tackled by a big ass cop.
Dante Montoya is a fantastic character as well! The counter to Rooks quick snark, Dante is calm and cool. Cuban-Mexican by birth, kicked out by his asshole family, now living with his fabulous uncle Manny. Another black sheep of the family, also ostracised for his sexuality. The two share a house together, Dante is a cop, Manny does hair, makeup, and waxing for drag queens. The two are deeply bonded, and I loved them together so much! So Dante and his former partner worked on a burglary case a few years ago, for one Rook Stevens, which went very badly, nearly costing Dante his career. Now a few years later he responds to a call and ends up tackling Rook Stevens, his nemesis!
There we go. Two men totally opposite yet perfect together. Dante is convinced Rook murdered the dead woman in his shop, and is pissed off as all hell when grandpa Archie bails him out. Then we get more dead bodies. A shooting, another dead body, a mystery, Rook gets injured, fucked, saved, and maybe a boyfriend. It’s awesome. Exactly what I expect from a Rhys Ford book. A quick plot, fast paced, lots of action, snarky dialogue, humor, movie references, hot sex, and a great ending. I try hard not to anticipate and figure out who did what, so I didn’t see who did it until Rook did. I want to go slow and enjoy the mystery, not looking ahead. So I was surprised at the ending! I loved Rook and Dante together, and apart. Rook is not a trusting person, he’s been dumped by his loved ones and is not interesting in anything more than a fuck. Dante seems to be looking for more, in his heart anyway. But he is certainly not looking for anything with Rook, the man he hates!
I suppose you could say it was a bit predictable, they hate each other at first but are forced to work together, then develop feelings. We’ve seen it before, from lots of authors, not just Rhys, but it was still a great story. It was also typical of a Rhys Ford book to have a more alpha dominant male, big and buff, with a more slender, smaller, less dominant, but quick partner. I can see previous characters traits in these guys. Again, I was ok with that. I’m not tired of this pattern, but I can recognize it now after reading all of her books. Her writing is just so damn good, I am happy to buy whatever story she is selling. This book is set in LA, and you can see her attention to detail in her setting, I believe all of the places exist and the details are accurate. There is action, but just when it gets to be too much she slows it down and we get sweet, quiet moments between Dante and Rook. Then it picks up again. There are lots of characters all interacting, all well done, even as simple side characters. She’s just so good at that.
So I loved it. Can I say I loved it as much as a Cole McGinnis book? Uhhh…. not quite. Not for any reason other than familiarity maybe. I am open to accepting these guys in to my heart, beside Jae and Cole, not in place of them. This is just the start, and I can’t wait to see where Rhys takes us from here!
If you are a Rhys Ford fan, obviously you need to read this one. If you haven’t read any of her other books, this would be a good place to start. Get in on a new series as it begins. If you do like it (why wouldn’t you??) then go try some of her others. You won’t be sorry!