Book Reviews

School of Fish (Fish Out of Water 6) by Amy Lane at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Private Investigator / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 07-April-2021

Book Blurb

Jackson Rivers has been learning how to take care of himself so he can be there for Ellery Cramer, but after eight weeks of healing, body and soul, he’s itching to get back to work. Finally Ellery gives him a simple task: pick up a file on a kid who probably didn’t commit murder but who refuses to participate in his own defense.


Nothing is ever that easy.


A horrifying game of connect-the-dots leads one case to another, to the mob, to the local high school… and a bottomless list of potential suspects and victims. The case has a lot of moving parts, and Jackson and Ellery have to work fast to make sure the machinery of the mob doesn’t mow down everyone they care about—or rip them apart.


After a year of living together, Ellery is learning to accept that Jackson can’t let an injustice stand. Together they fight to keep kids out of jail while the streets of Sacramento threaten to explode. They’d better hope they’ve learned enough about each other to keep it together, because for this case, school is the most dangerous place to be.


Book Review

From the very first paragraph I couldn’t help but start to hum Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here. With my favorite guys in the middle of nowhere Southern California, to Henry and Lance, plus Galen… well, these are well loved characters from some spinoffs (or originals?!) and I love how they all came together with Jackson and Ellery. Don’t misunderstand, ‘School of Fish’ is still very much a Jackson and Ellery mystery with everything that accompanies that, but it was great to see these other men I love as much.


Ellery concedes and allows Jackson to come back to work—in a very minimal way—a few days before Jackson is officially off medical leave and, of course, what happens? Jackson and Henry get caught in a shoot-out at the public defender’s office where they were just stopping by to pick up a file. Only Jackson, I swear! From then on, it’s a crazy few days of figuring out the ins and outs of two separate cases that end up being not so separate. There’s the Russian mob, a sweet, seventeen-year-old boy who is willing to go down for murder because his younger siblings have been trafficked and his silence is required, along with drugs, gambling, and general mayhem on the streets of Sacramento.


“He’d accepted who Jackson was. Yes, he wanted Jackson to be more careful of himself, but the part that he couldn’t change, he accepted. Such a powerful thing, that acceptance. It had taken them a year to get here: to the place where Jackson learned to take care of himself for Ellery’s sake and Ellery learned that there were some parts of Jackson he didn’t want to change.” ~ Jackson


This is all well and good, and the mystery and suspense had me turning pages like a lemming, but for me, the more important part of this book is how far Jackson has come, emotionally and mentally, from a year ago when he and Ellery first got together. Jackson has always had more white-knight syndrome than all the knights of the Round Table. He’s honorable and willing to sacrifice himself, if need be, for the greater good. It’s one of the reasons I adore him. He’s one of the best men ever written in fiction today. And finally, after everything he’s gone through in this last year—gunshot wounds, pneumonia, bronchitis, heart failure, multiple surgeries and so much time spent in the hospital—finally, FINALLY, Jackson has begun to see his own worth and that stopping to consider his own safety isn’t the worst thing he can do. I mean, he actually took the time to suit up in the Kevlar that Ellery purchased for them! This is monumental and I had to reread it twice to make sure I wasn’t wishing so hard I rearranged the letters on the page.


Once again, this series has kept me riveted to the page (eyes as big as saucers), mooning over my guys (needing a cold drink), watching in disbelief as Jackson ends up needing stitches in his ass, and really, really, really wanting to know if they found an addition for their household. Watch out Billy Bob!


I hope Amy Lane never runs out of story ideas for this series. I want to be old(er) and gray(er) and still reading about my favorite lawyer and private investigator. I want there to continue to be little Easter eggs popping up here and there with glimpses of my guys, especially the ones out in nowhere land, so I can make sure everyone is still doing well. Why? Because this is family and it just doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you, Amy. Now, if you could just do the impossible and grant my dear friend a story about Lucy Satan, then all will be right in the world.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 348 pages/121539 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-December-2020
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
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