Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: They must work together to stop a psychopath—and save each other.
Two months ago Jackson Rivers got shot while trying to save Ellery Cramer’s life. Not only is Jackson still suffering from his wounds, the triggerman remains at large—and the body count is mounting.
Jackson and Ellery have been trying to track down Tim Owens since Jackson got out of the hospital, but Owens’s time as a member of the department makes the DA reluctant to turn over any stones. When Owens starts going after people Jackson knows, Ellery’s instincts hit red alert. Hurt in a scuffle with drug-dealing squatters and trying damned hard not to grieve for a childhood spent in hell, Jackson is weak and vulnerable when Owens strikes.
Jackson gets away, but the fallout from the encounter might kill him. It’s not doing Ellery any favors either. When a police detective is abducted—and Jackson and Ellery hold the key to finding her—Ellery finds out exactly what he’s made of. He’s not the corporate shark who believes in winning at all costs; he’s the frightened lover trying to keep the man he cares for from self-destructing in his own valor.
Review: Red Fish, Dead Fish is book 2 in the Fish Out of Water series. It does have a self-contained story arc, but overall would probably be confusing if read out of order.
The story continues to follow lawyer Ellery Cramer and the PI at his defence firm (and partner), Jackson Rivers. Jackson’s past, which has not equipped him to recognise love when it slaps him in the face, never mind how to deal with it, catches up with him when one of the victims of a serial killer turns out to be someone he knows all too well. And it appears that this victim was intended to send a very personal message from the killer to Jackson himself.
Jackson has spent the past two months recuperating and is barely recovered from the events of the first book, Fish Out of Water, but when bodies start showing up with alarming frequency, Jackson and Ellery are inevitably drawn into the investigation. As the case gets closer and closer to home, Ellery and Jackson are also navigating their new relationship. Ellery has no doubts about his love for Jackson, but Jackson struggles with how to deal with that and his own strong feelings for Ellery. Most of Jackson’s childhood was spent feeling like he never really fit anywhere. His mother’s all encompassing love of drugs left indelible scars on him that even being virtually adopted into his best friend’s family couldn’t stop from going deep into his soul.
The action and suspense of the police investigation into the serial killer drive the story along, and strongly drawn characters provide interest and relatability. Jackson is a complicated mess of strength and vulnerability. Ellery is understanding and determined and has a core of steel that is not going to allow Jackson to run away from his feelings. It’s fascinating, if sometimes painful, to see Jackson grow into their relationship. It’s not easy for him to understand how Ellery could possibly see anything in him worthy of loving, but events have forced Jackson to look his shattered pieces in the face. He does continue to grow, learning how to love and how to trust – both things he’s had little experience with.
The secondary characters are as complex and believable as the MCs, I especially enjoyed getting to know Taylor (aka Lucy Satan), Ellery’s take-no-crap mother, better. The author does an excellent job of resolving the plot arc of this book’s storyline while setting up possibilities for the next book. I felt satisfied when I finished, but at the same time I can’t wait to see what comes next. Hopefully Jackson won’t get quite so beaten up!