Author: C.S. Poe
Publisher: DSP Publications
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Narrator: Derrick McClain
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.
A terrific mystery told by a terrific narrator. What more could I want in an audiobook? This series is wonderful. Totally different from the Adrien English series, and yet it’s strongly reminiscent of it. The main characters, Sebastian Snow and Calvin Winter, are strong, independent men, and yet each has his weaknesses and soft side. The writing is excellent; the mystery difficult to solve and always tied into a famous book, character, or event; and the characters endearing and compelling. This is a must read series for those who enjoy MM romance!
Looking back over my notes for book one, I see that there was a note from the author in the first e-book version that stated this series is in tribute to the Adrien English series so obviously the author did a good job in complimenting those beloved characters, because as I stated above, it’s quite evident. I also noted the outstanding job Derrick McClain did on that audiobook, including as he did here, a totally geeky voice for Sebastian. The voice and the personality totally match. And the voice for Calvin, who’s a strong and masculine detective with a very soft spot in his heart for Sebastian is also perfect. There’s a host of secondary characters, and as I moved through the book, I actually forgot that a single person was narrating the story to me. And that’s the hallmark of a wonderful voice actor. His role is to bring the book to life, not take center stage for himself, and Derrick infuses that life in to these characters as they work to solve the mystery before Sebastian ends up as dead as the victims he’s trying to help.
His former boyfriend, Neil, is back, as is Max, Seb’s faithful (and goofy) sidekick, and Seb’s father, the voice of reason in a sometimes tumultuous world. The dynamic between Sebastian and Neil is still strained, with Neil wanting him back. But the love developing between Calvin and Sebastian can’t be denied, and Seb’s concern for Cal’s PTSD and the repercussions from his disease send him to researching therapy dogs on Cal’s behalf—in between solving the mystery, of course. At the same time, Cal’s concerns for Seb’s visual disorder that only allows him to see shades of gray and distorts his vision in bright light is quite evident as well. It’s sweet to see how very well the two help each other cope with their everyday life situations.
I’m starting to develop a very sweet spot in my heart for these two, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future. I definitely recommend this book, which can be read as a standalone—though it would be good to have the background on how the couple met, so I recommend reading book one, The Mystery of Nevermore. Lovers of mystery will definitely appreciate the complexity of this plot, and I’m happy to say that I was stumped—it’s not a simple solution. And, of course, if you love MM romance in all shapes and sizes, this will be a great story to read. I certainly recommend the audiobook version since having Derrick McClain perform it for you will make it so much better.
Marked up from 4.5 stars due to the narration, so 5 stars total on this one!