Desert Isle Keeper
Josh Lanyon makes a successful return to the world of the Sculptor murders and established partners, Elliot Mills and Tucker Lance in this third book in the All’s Fair series, Fair Chance. I love romantic suspense/mystery stories and in this novel, Josh Lanyon once again shows herself to be a master of this sub-genre.
To fully enjoy the mystery, interplay, tension and references in this novel, I would suggest reading the whole series in order; and what a treat you have in store. In the first book, Fair Game, the pair reconnects in order to capture a serial killer called the Sculptor, and we learn that they have a romantic history together which resulted in a bad break-up following the the disabling injury that forced Elliot’s retirement from the FBI.
In Fair Chance, Elliot is still a history Professor at PSU (his post FBI career), and love of his life, partner Tucker Lance, is still a special agent for the FBI. The Sculptor is imprisoned and awaiting trial, but for some unknown reason he has become obsessed with Elliot and will reveal certain facts to him only. When Elliot finally agrees to the meeting it consists of little but unhelpful verbal sparring until, as Elliot leaves, the killer suggests he may not have been acting alone . It seems his accomplice is keen to finish the Sculptor’s mission, meaning none of them is safe. Of course not everyone believes the accomplice theory and certain events occur before everyone is on board.
A task force is eventually formed in which all the characters are relevant and never just extraneous scene filling. They all provide a hint to the next piece of the puzzle or a lead, while the twists are believable, intriguing and not obvious. The task force actually works as a team, and although our heroes obviously have the lion’s share of page time and eureka moments, these are aided by actual police work and FBI procedure. Although the mere fact of having a civilian, Elliot, working the case is probably not particularly realistic, some suspension of disbelief is always necessary for entertainment’s sake.
We see things from Elliot’s point of view but in the third person, which works well in these novels as the reader always feels at the heart of the action. Additionally, Elliot and Tucker are both fully fleshed out, three-dimensional characters but as Elliot is the more talkative and intuitive of the two, seeing things from his perspective maintains the brisk narrative pace. There are some lovely shiver inducing moments from the meeting with the Sculptor –
“I don’t need to read a psychology book to understand you, Mills. There’s nothing complicated about your psyche.”
“But enough about me,’ Elliot said. ‘Let’s talk about your favorite subject. You. Or more exactly, why you wanted to see me.”…
“…I didn’t want to see you. I gave you permission to visit. That’s all.”
I simply can’t quote the best bits or even relate a lot of the story as the three books are interlinked and surprise is the heart of crime mysteries. But I can discuss the romance between Elliot and Tucker, which begins in book one. Both alpha males, Tucker is laconic, a big, well-muscled, handsome, archetypal ‘GMan’. He is also vulnerable, especially where families and relationships are concerned, as he is a child of the foster system. Elliot is also an alpha male except in the bedroom, which provides a very sexy dynamic we see developing through the series.
Elliot is the son of a sixties, hippy revolutionary Roland Mills, who became a well-known Professor, teaching civil rights and anarchic history at the University where Elliot is now the Professor Mills. The relationship between Roland and Elliot is a sub-plot that provides comedy, pathos and an intriguing look at the changing dynamics between father and son. Roland’s strong beliefs regarding the establishment and passivism present an interesting counterpoint to the contemporary treatment of crime and punishment.
The very last passage in this book provides an inspired quiet ending – it’s almost an anti-climax, but it does feel right and complete. It also leaves the story at the perfect point should the author ever wish to re-visit this couple.
All in all, Fair Chance is a wonderful example of a romantic, crime novel and the All’s Fair trilogy makes an entertaining, seamless, epic story.