Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"A Few God Fish" by Amy Lane

"A Few Good Fish"
Amy Lane
5 Stars

A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?

PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.

But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.

Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.

It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!

In this, the third book in the Fish Out of Water series, we pick up where book two left off. Jackson Rivers and Ellery Cramer are both recovering from the physical and psychological injuries sustained when they stopped a sadistic serial killer with ties to the police force, the military and...two old friends from another book.

The events of "Red Fish, Dead Fish" have left as many questions unanswered as there are problems resolved. Tim Owens, the former military/cop psychopath, is now dead and both Jackson and Ellery are concerned that the men who created the killer and took advantage of his "talents" may not have stopped with just making just one. As they start to dig into the circumstances behind Owens' time in the military, they uncover a link to Sonny and Ace, the two main characters from "Racing for the Sun" and the death of the man who made Sonny's life hell in the service.

As Jackson and Ellery track down the links between Owens, Sonny and Ace, and US Navy Commander Karl Lacey, the men find themselves in the middle of a far-reaching conspiracy that threatens to take Ellery away from Jackson, something unthinkable and unacceptable. Fighting to uncover the truth, all the players converge in an abandoned military base in the desert and all hell breaks loose. The question is, who will walk away alive?

I went back and re-read the first two books in the series (as well as "Racing for the Sun") before tackling this one, and man-oh-man, was it worth it. It reminded me of why I adore Amy Lane so much, She has this knack for creating the most wonderfully flawed and broken characters who, against all the odds, find the one person who can help them heal and feel whole. That foundation allows her to throw her guys into the deep end of the crazy pool and allow them to sink or swim, but also shows them, and us, how strong even the most broken among us are.

And there's a lot of broken here. Jackson, raised by a tragic drug-addicted mother, but who managed to cobble a family together out of friends and hope. Ellery, whose mother is at once demanding, controlling and shrewish while at the same time so protective. Sonny, who is just all kinds of wrong and twisted, sharing a similar background to Jackson but without being able to find a savior as a child. Ace, who is at best a morally gray character but who will kill to save those he loves. And now we have two new men to add to the mix-Ernie, the psychic former foster kid who is targeted for death and thrown away by everyone at every chance, and Burt(on), the black ops assassin who is really a white knight of sorts. Six men, three pairings, and potentially, one big odd family.

We have the men, we have the romance, and we have the story line. Every action, every character, every line forms a part of the whole and man, what an ass-kicking whole it is. Amy takes all these pieces of yarn and knits them into this vibrant, textured fabric of love, loss, angst, hope, life and death.

But the best thing? While there's a lot of action here, it's ALL about the characters. All about fear of loss, hope of a lasting love, the grace of family, and simple human contact. Yes, a lot happens and it's a roller coaster ride, but at the end of the day, what we care about and what we want to see is that Jackson and Ellery are healing and trusting and moving past the bad things that happened to them and are together.

Just so damned well done. As always. Can't wait for book four and to find out about Burt and Ernie.


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