Lovers and Other Strangers by Josh Lanyon
Finn is an artist; he is born in a family of artists and everyone expect from him to be the good twin, since his brother Fitch is the bad boy. While Finn has a strong bond with Seal Island, the place were he was raised, and he wouldn't want anything else if not living there and paint, Fitch has the wandering feet, always in search of something or someone new. And then a summer, Finn fell in love with Con, a neighbor he has known for all his life, but that summer was different. The relationship started as a summer fling, but for Finn was something more. And so when he discovered Con in an passionate embrace with Fitch, Finn had not the force to face it and ran away from them and the island. Now three years later, convalescent from a very bad car accident, Finn comes back home to find the peace that Seal Island always gave him. It doesn't matter if he has to face Fitch and Con, if they are living together, they have already stolen him his happiness, they can't steal him also his home. But when he arrives to Seal Island, he finds out that Fitch is disappeared three years before, the same day Finn left the island... No one knew what happened to him and the last person that probably saw him alive was Con, the same Con that now is telling Finn that he misses him and that also for Con was love, and not only a summer fling.
The plot turns mainly around the two twins, Finn and Fitch, and their story. There is a romance, but it's only a subplot, and it remains always in second line. Con is a nice man, but I have the feeling that he is more a dream, an unattainable man for Finn, and that if he suddenly becomes true, Finn maybe would be not more so interest in him. I have the feeling that Finn is more in love of the idea to be in love than of the man. On the other hand the mystery is really good, and since the community is so small, everyone has a reason to want Fitch dead, and everyone could be the guilty man. No one has a real alibi for that day and so it's nearly impossible to find out the culprit before the end of the story. The strange thing is that the only one who seems to mourn the loss of Fitch is his twin Finn, the one who probably has more reason than one to hate him. But as it is said in the book, and how you can understand from what I said, Finn is a good and nice guy, with not real bad feeling in him. And so, since Fitch wasn't loved so much, the reader is not in an hurry to find out who killed him.
Body Art by Jordan Castillo Price
The second story is maybe a little more strange, but basically with the same turning point. Ray arrives in a gated community on an island, Red Wing Island. He will be the new driver for a old and wealthy couple, the Whites. It's not clear how it happened, I summarized that his former lover probably has some responsibility, but Ray lost his business, a tattoo parlor, and now he is full of debt. A live in work is exactly what he needs, even if the arrangement is not exactly top of the notch. The house where he goes to live is isolated, Ray has no his own car, and in the house there are an old man with Alzheimer and three women... and being Ray gay, well, it means that he will be pretty lonely. Then in the wood near the house he meets Anton, the crazy artist who lives in a nearby cottage. And when I say crazy, I don't mean that he does strange sculpture, I mean that he is really crazy. Anton is a bipolar case, he tried to kill himself in the past, and he has moody up and down. But he is also really beautiful, and gay, and maybe since he is lonely, or maybe since, in the crazy situation he is in, Anton doesn't seem so crazy after all, Ray falls soon and hard for him. In two day they are lovers, and in one day more, a dead man is found in the wood: he is Stanley, the former driver, and apparently Anton's previous friend. Again everyone in the small community have reason to hate Stanley, and everyone could be the guilty.
This time the romance is a little more center stage, on the contrary of the previous story, the murder is not so important, maybe since the murdered is not someone so much involved with the hero. Ray has no real reason to find out who killed Stanley, he is more interested in find out that it wasn't Anton who did it. The nice thing is that, in a way or the other, Anton is really a unsteady man, someone that probably will be never able to live alone on his own. If Ray decides to bring on their relationship, he will be always the rock, with time he will become the caretaker... but he sees Anton with a lover eyes, and he is willing to do so.
Amazon: The Art of Dying: Partners in Crime #4
Cover Art by Anne Cain