Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: The Mystery of the Curiosities
SERIES: Snow & Winter #2
AUTHOR: C.S. Poe
PUBLISHER: DSP Publications
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2017
Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.
Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.
It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.
You’d think one serial killer in a lifetime would be enough, but most people aren’t as lucky as Sebastian Snow. If luck is defined as being taunted by a brick-wielding maniac who has serious issues with invading someone’s personal space, anyways. And sure, playing along with the mysterious killer isn’t the smartest idea, but Snow can’t seem to let a mystery pass him by–no matter how much his (beleaguered) boyfriend might wish otherwise. Not that the killer is just gonna let Snow walk away whatever the man wishes he might have (or hadn’t) done in the end. No, his only option is to play the killer’s game and hope that he doesn’t go so far as to get himself, Calvin, or anymore innocent bystanders killed before he can unmask the person who is always two steps in front of him.
I really enjoyed book one in this series, The Mystery of Nevermore, and have been eagerly waiting for the sequel to come out. I found Snow and Winter to be great characters and I am always up for a good mystery. I also really like how Snow’s inability to see color plays out in the story. I thought it was a great addition to the character when I first read it, and I like how easily it blends into the background, adding a layer to the story, but also making Snow really stand out. Plus I just find the whole concept of not being able to see in color rather fascinating.
The mystery in this book is probably a bit more mysterious in this one than in the previous book, which I appreciated. I just had to know how the killer was getting away with everything, so that made it hard for me to put the book down. I do wish there had been a few more hints towards the end as to who the killer was–it felt a bit rushed when it all came out–but I did like that I had myself second-guessing everything for a majority of the book. Even had a few–it can’t possibly be Calvin, right??–moments.
I will say that I had harder time with Snow’s insistence in investigating everything, than I did in book one. To be honest I am surprised that Calvin hadn’t just duct-tapped his boyfriend to a chair by the end of the book. Though, knowing Sebastian, he’d probably have just hopped down the street with a chair taped to his ass, off to investigate another clue. And I know, a book where Sebastian doesn’t investigate anything would be a pretty lame mystery story, but man did I want to shove him in a closet until he realized that he should be leaving the whole thing to the cops. Especially when we see how badly all this running around is messing with Calvin.
Though on that note, I really liked how the whole PTSD thing was worked into the story. Maybe I’m the kind of guy who like my characters to see the characters suffer a bit, but watching Calvin start to really come apart just worked for me. Like, it wasn’t completely in your face about it, but you could really see how badly he needed to do something but he just kept refusing. I also think it was a great way to add tension to their relationship without having to go thru the whole “cop in the closet” thing again. Don’t get me wrong, it worked real well in Nevermore, but if that had been the “thing” between them in this book it would have felt too much like rehashing old ground. The PTSD angle helps build Calvin’s character, as well as adding a needed relationship struggle for Snow and Winter to work thru.
I wasn’t as sold on this book as I was the first one, but I still really enjoyed it. I think my overall frustration with Sebastian and his sluething ways might have made it a bit harder for me to dig into this book. It is still well worth the read though, and I look forward to the next book the series.