Book Review: Adrien English Mysteries by Josh Lanyon

Adrien English Mysteries
Josh Lanyon
Loose ID, May 2007
ISBN 978-1-59632-465-7
Ebook

This edition contains the first two novels in the series, Fatal Shadows and A Dangerous Thing.

Fatal Shadows introduces us to Adrien English, who lives above his Old Pasadena bookstore and is rudely awakened one morning by a pair of detectives, Chan and Riordan, The pair have come to give him the bad news that his employee and long-time friend has been murdered. Not only do they want to know Adrien’s whereabouts at the time of the crime but also whether Adrien was sleeping with Robert. It becomes obvious that the detectives think Robert’s homosexuality had something to do with his death and Riordan in particular seems to have a need to show his manliness. It soon strikes Adrien that he himself may be a target of the murderer but Riordan doesn’t take him seriously. In the meantime, small facts here and there lead Adrien to suspect a connection to his and Robert’s high school days and the body count begins to grow. That’s not all that’s growing though—Adrien can’t help an increasing attraction to Jake Riordan who may or may not be interested in return.

In A Dangerous Thing, Adrien takes a brief vacation to a ranch he inherited near Sonora, leaving his rather strange employee, Angus, in charge of the bookstore. He hopes the peace and solitude will help him break the writer’s block he’s having with his second novel but, just before arriving, he discovers a body lying in the road. Not being a stupid man, Adrien races back down the road and finally reaches someone in the Sheriff’s office. Unfortunately, by the time the sheriff and his deputy arrive, the dead man is gone. A long-lost gold mine, a trespassing team of archaeologists who think Adrien is the trespasser, a field of nicely-growing pot, an 1857 stagecoach robbery and more missing bodies (alive or not) ramp up the tension that Adrien was hoping to escape for a few days. Will Detective Jake Riordan come to the rescue or will perhaps Adrien be the one who rescues Jake after a fashion?

In case it isn’t obvious the two main characters (and some others) are gay but this really is no surprise if the reader does a minimum of research first. The mysteries are light but intriguing puzzles and, although there is some romance (and just plain sex), it’s a pretty good blend. I don’t particularly like to read sex scenes but, in this case, it’s not because the characters are gay—I don’t like it with hetero couples either. So, how did I deal with it? Simple. I used my trusty finger and the touch screen to move on down the road. On the other hand, as a former bookseller, I really enjoyed the details about Adrien’s bookstore, especially the squirrelly writing group and the peculiarities of Angus.

The author has an extensive body of work, plenty to keep a reader going for quite some time, and these are the first two of five installments of the Adrien English Mysteries. I’ll be looking for the next three which, unfortunately, will take me to the end of the series and then I’ll just have to try a lot of Lanyon‘s other books. I expect they’ll be every bit as entertaining as Fatal Shadows and A Dangerous Thing.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2012.

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