Murder in Pastel by Josh Lanyon

Murder in PastelGenre: Contemporary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publication day: September 11, 2015 (First published April 1, 2000)
Length: 198 pages
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.

“Ten years ago Cosmo Bari vanished, and with him, his legendary masterpiece, Virgin in Pastel. Since that day no one in the seaside art colony of Steeple Hill has heard from the eccentric painter.

Surrounded by an extended family of Cosmo’s colorful compatriots, mystery writer Kyle Bari believes he has come to terms with being abandoned by his famous father, until the day Adam MacKinnon arrives with his new lover, the beautiful but poisonous, Brett.
Brett has an unerring instinct for other people’s weak spots; soon the quiet colony is seething with hostility and suspicion as Brett hints he knows something about the missing artist.”

Rate: 3.75 out of 5

My View: Technically, this is my first Josh Lanyon’s story. I read Mexican Heat back in 2013, but it was co-authored with Laura Baumbach.

At first, I was not sure what to expect. The book blurb seemed interesting even when the cover doesn’t make sense until you read the story, and it’s not the most appealing. The initial setup, leading to the main events, took almost thirty percent of the story, and it’s not until the forty plus percentage that the book gets interesting. Until that moment, I think the book was no more than a three star.

There’s potential behind the characters’ backstories, but since we spent most of the time in Kyle’s head, we don’t get to see much of it. I had to double check Kyle’s age because he felt as immature as Brett’s twenty-one. He didn’t read as a twenty-seven-year-old single man, independently of his illness.

The book felt like a game of Clue, which the author referenced. At least, that was one of my favorite board games when I was growing up. It’s a lot of twists and turns, but the events lacked excitement. Even so, I wanted to read more, to see how the author dealt with everything in the end.

Overall, it was a good mystery– simple and easy to resolve.

What I liked the most: Honestly, the lack of an HEA appealed to me the most. The book has a strong HFN, which works well with the overall story.

I wanted more of: Probably Cosmo. Seeing him through Kyle’s eyes got me more interested in his life before the disappearance– his relationships and what his view’s on Kyle as an adult would have been.

Who should read it: If you’re looking for a romance, this isn’t your book. It’s a good story for those in search of something more than an MM relationship.

 ARC received via Netgalley, courtesy of, for an honest review. 

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