From the BLURB:
Adrien English runs a small bookstore in Pasadena, which is reputed to have the largest collection of gay and gothic whodunnits around. But mystery invades his own life one morning when his best friend is found stabbed to death and he is seen as the most likely suspect. More murder and mayhem ensue in this nailbiting thriller with plenty of twists and turns.
This is the first book in Josh Lanyon’s popular ‘Adrien English’ series.
This series is not M/M erotica – there is an M/M love story at the series’ centre, but Lanyon’s book is first and foremost a mystery. That’s probably the best thing about Lanyon – he isn’t overly preoccupied with writing a gay series, he just so happens to be writing a murder-mystery with a gay hero.
Adrien English is a fantastic leading man. He’s witty, a little bit goofy and utterly charming. He’s also not your typical gay lead. In fact, as a writer he pokes fun at the gay stereotype prevalent in current fiction. Adrien is not particularly suave – he eats cereal in his underwear while watching old Errol Flynn movies. The only stereotype Adrien maintains (much to his chagrin) is that of mama’s boy – but only because his eccentric society mother, Lisa, is still reluctant to cut the apron strings. Adrien is also unlucky in love, still nursing a broken heart after his ex, Mel, walked out on him years ago and he’s been celibate ever since. To top it all off, Adrien has had a heart murmur since he was sixteen years old – a condition which will most likely mean Adrien won’t live to see 50. His heart condition is very defining of Adrien’s character and explains a lot about his ‘lone wolf’ persona and the armor he dons with those closest to him (or rather, those who try to get close to him). I loved Adrien. He was a completely delightful and unsuspecting hero.
Lanyon also writes some fantastic secondary characters. From Adrien’s nosy mother, Lisa, to his gay café-owner friend Claude La Pierra – the book is peppered with lovable eccentrics. And half the joy is in reading Adrien’s reactions to them – from Claude’s stereotypical flamboyant homosexuality to his mother’s insistence that he move back home.
Lanyon has also written a greatly complex love interest for Adrien English in the form of LAPD detective, Jake Riordan. These two have a less than auspicious meeting when Jake is assigned to the murder investigation of Adrien’s best friend, an investigation in which Adrien is the number one suspect. More than that though, Jake is a firmly closeted homosexual who is heavy into the BDSM scene. His sexual preference toward violence, dominance and submission is very Freudian and revealing of Jake’s feelings of shame and humiliation at liking men. Despite all the obstacles in their way, Jake and Adrien definitely have chemistry, and their tentative romance is a nice counter-point to the murder-mystery plot.
That grip on my arm was going to leave bruises. “I asked you to stay out of it. I specifically told you. What do I have to do? Arrest you?”
“Anything to get me in handcuffs?”
I don’t know why that popped out, but police brutality seemed imminent.
The murder-mystery is a real page-turner, I was guessing at the ‘whodunnit’ until the very end. This is where Lanyon really excels – having his bumbling leading man trying his hand at sleuthing. Though there is a gruesome murder at its centre, the book never becomes too dark because Adrien keeps things charming and interesting. It also helps that on occasion Adrien becomes slightly hysterical and funny.
I will definitely be continuing this series and would like to thank every book blogger who ever recommended Mr. Lanyon!
P.S. – Lanyon describes Adrien as closely resembling Montgomery Clift. When I cast this series in my head I picture Kerr Smith (‘Dawson’s Creek’, ‘Life Unexpected’) in the role – because, is it just me, or does Kerr bare a teeny resemblance to Mr. Clift?