Foreword Reviews

The Merchant of Death

This genre-bending thriller and love story boasts complex, lovable characters that add drama and humor.

The Merchant of Death, by Lisa Henry and J. A. Rock, is the second in an easily addictive series of action-packed, rambunctiously humorous, and sweetly romantic crime dramedies that will satisfy adult readers of all kinds.

The enigmatic con artist Henry Page is not one to follow orders. Yet FBI agent Ryan “Mac” McGuiness holds out hope that this mysteriously troubled and undeniably magnetic bad boy will embrace the opportunity to enforce the law rather than break it by serving as a witness in Mac’s key case. Henry has less honest plans of his own when his twin sister, Viola, is afraid to go back to St. Albinus—the care facility where she lives—after her friend suspiciously dies. In a half-baked attempt to protect his childlike sister, Henry disguises himself as his twin to investigate the “bad angel” of St. Albinus.

The authors’ concise style keeps the plot fast paced, while the startling and smart imagery will capture the attention of readers who wouldn’t normally pick up an action novel. The beautiful and unromanticized melancholy in lines like those describing Mrs. Hanes napping on the couch—“slack mouth, a bubbly snore. A limp, skinny arm. A stained blanket piled on her like a dollop of garnish, rather than wrapped around her”—adds literary depth.

The plot is quirky, with a fantastically ridiculous yet nail-biting primary conflict between Henry and the oddly menacing forces of evil plaguing St. Albinus. The brief novel also successfully balances several subplots involving Mac’s jeopardized career, Henry’s unstable criminal friends, and the intersection of these two, so there is never a dull moment. The multiple plot lines promise there will be no shortage of material for several more books in the series. The authors don’t shy away from the refreshingly unconventional sexual tension between Henry and Mac, and this truly gives heart to the genre-bending novel.

The Merchant of Death has something for every reader, and its lovable characters, smart sense of humor, and layered plot make it an enticing start to a promising series.

Reviewed by Paige Van De Winkle

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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