Six months into a relationship, things have heated up between political blogger Sam Flynn and FBI Special Agent Nathan Walker. Though Sam is happy with Nathan and proud of his own sobriety, he’s anxious about what their future holds. Things are heating up in Stonebridge, Connecticut, as a series of deadly fires puts the community on edge and eventually threatens Sam’s comatose brother. As Halloween approaches, fears rise that the arsonist will strike again.
When Sam encounters the main suspect, seventeen-year-old orphan Damon Blake, he’s not sure what to do. Obstruction might land him in jail, but he is increasingly skeptical of Damon’s guilt. He takes matters into his own hands and investigates, but doing so means keeping Damon’s whereabouts a secret from Nathan and the police. Meanwhile, Nathan wonders what Sam is hiding and grapples with insecurities of his own. Sam wants to confide in Nathan, and Nathan wants to trust Sam, but they discover that negotiating new love can be as dangerous as solving crime.
Maggie knows mystery.
As I wrote in my review of the first book in this series, Double Indemnity, Maggie has a way of writing a mystery that isn’t too far fetched, but isn’t too easy to figure out either. There’s enough suspense and double guessing, but also enough logic and real motivation, to make that aspect of the story intriguing and satisfying. Even if you’re like me and don’t always love a mystery, you’ll love Inner Sanctum.
How could you not love it with a character like Sam Flynn? One of the most well-rounded characters in an m/m novel I’ve ever read, there are so many facets to his story and none of them are boring or trite. He’s still struggling with his drinking problem, with temptation and figuring out how to live sober. Now that his blog is taking off, he’s even more likely to get himself into dangerous situations for the sake of a case. And he’s still figuring out how to make a real, adult relationship work. It’s not easy, and he fucks up A LOT, but his heart is always in the right place.
What I really loved about Inner Sanctum, though, was how relevant it felt to today’s world. In Damon’s story we see how people are so ready to criminalize someone just for the color of their skin. The police force still needs cleaning up, and the media is just as bad. Sam’s determination to go with his gut and not just believe what he’s being told, despite the obvious discrepancies and the friction it causes with Nathan, makes me love him even more.
One of the other causes for tension in Sam and Nathan’s relationship is Sam’s inability to express his desire to be dominated. He’s been fixated on the idea ever since learning of Nathan’s previous undercover work, and despite doing enough solo research to figure out he’s definitely into it, he can’t figure out how to ask for it. Not that their sex life is lacking AT ALL, trust me. It’s still sizzling.
Once again Maggie gives us a layered story that doesn’t get wrapped up neatly at the end. The mystery is solved, and everyone is happy, but it’s a realistic happy ending that is made all the better for the realism. I can’t wait to see where Sam and Nathan’s story goes next.