Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Just Joshin Press
Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Author Page
Type: First Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.
Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.
Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.
Review: Holy shit, when did I move to California, lose twenty years and become a gay man? Because I swear after reading <gulp> the entire series in one weekend, I thought I was Adrien English. Or at least I certainly felt his feelings! Faye had warned me to block off some time once I started this series because I’d have to read through to the end, and darnit she was right! I burned supper, ignored the kids, and totally blew off customers at my retail job as I snuck back to the break room to read. They were addictive! The only forgiving grace was when I crawled to my laptop and found the next series, Adrien was there again. Thank goodness! Maybe it was just a guest appearance in one of the books, but there he was. ~sigh~ Lovely.
In Fatal Shadows, we first meet Adrien as he’s stumbling downstairs to open the front door of Cloak and Dagger Books to two LAPD cops. Before breakfast even! They’re there to report on the death of his long-time friend and assistant, Robert Hersey. Robert’s body was found dumped in an alley the night before, his death caused by multiple stab wounds. Is Adrien a suspect? Depends on his alibi according to Detectives Riordan and Chan.
The big cop, Riordan, seems to think that Adrien’s homosexuality makes him a prime suspect. He seems to assume that since Adrien and Robert were both gay and were friends, that meant that they were lovers. And since the crime appeared to be one of passion–the partner is usually the first suspect, right? So that makes Adrien the prime suspect.
After receiving comfort from friends, Adrien returns to find his bookstore has been vandalized. Calling the cops again brings his two new friends back–with more questions. Now they’re calling him a liar since he hadn’t mentioned that he and Robert had had dinner the night before. Hadn’t they had a fight at the restaurant and left separately? Why had Robert said what he’d said when he left? And why did he come back fifteen minutes after Adrien left, looking for him? That was a heartbreaker for Adrien–why HAD he come back?
Adrien’s editing his mystery novel that’s almost to print, and it’s hard not to notice how the words on paper paint a stark contrast between his book’s pretend sleuthing and investigating in real life. As Adrien becomes convinced that the two detectives are not only going to frame him for the murder but also ignore all clues leading in other directions, he takes it upon himself to give a little look-e-loo around. Much to Detective Riordan’s amusement when he catches him in Robert’s apartment, looking for Claude La Pierre’s dark lover letters. Adrien is uncomfortably aware of the detective’s handsome looks and hidden streak of humor that matches his own; it would be a mistake to like the detective too much, wouldn’t it? Because he’s looking for a killer and he’s got Adrien in his crosshairs. Or does he?
In the course of Adrien’s investigation, the shenanigans of his life continue around him. The morbidly silent assistant the agency sent seems happy to be there, if by “happy” one counts showing up. His fellow crime writers show up like clockwork on Tuesday nights even when he’s under the shadow of investigation–in fact, they’re hoping he can give them an up-close look at what it feels like to be the suspect! And he begins to find out more about Robert’s proclivities when it comes to other men, for example Max, than he would have liked to. How well do we know those we love, and how well do we really want to? He begins piecing together the last days of Robert’s life and suddenly starts noticing that things are starting to happen in his.
Mix in a stalker, a close friend’s murder, mixed feelings toward his detective, a mother with influence in high places who’s very protective, a heart issue, and a man who hasn’t had sex in way too long and you get a finale that surprises and saddens and gives hope too, at the end. Oh Adrien…
I just wish I could get the image of a young Montgomery Clift out of my head. But if that’s the worst thing that happens to me, I’m doing okay. And for God’s sake, when you continue the series and break down, as you will, come to our Facebook page and we’ll help you through. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel if only you believe 🙂