Monday, January 25, 2010

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

fatal shadows cover

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

The first book in Lanyon's Adrien English Mystery Series does a good job of establishing the main characters, and I definitely want to read the second book.  The mystery was a little thin, though, and the book could have used more sleuthing and less set-up.

Adrien (with an e) English is a L. A. bookseller specializing in gay mysteries.  When his only employee and old friend, Rob, is found murdered, Adrien is the primary suspect.  This throws him into the path of homophobic police detectives Riordan and Chan, as well as journalist Bruce.

Although this book wasn't quite as good as The Dickens With Love (I liked the main characters in that book more, and it was more tightly plotted), Lanyon impressed me again with Fatal Shadows.  This novel is smart and funny, but isn't a light fluff read by any means.  The characters deal with serious issues in a realistic and believable way.  For example, one of my favorite lines is, "People don't see you.  They see their perception of you.  They see what they want to see."  People's perception of Adrien as a homosexual man definitely defines his relationships with those around him--Rob's wife can barely look him in the eye, and to his writer friends he's, "The Gay Friend."  But this definitely doesn't make Adrien an object of pity or pathos--instead, his life is treated with a dark, sharp wit that carried me through most of the book.

Unfortunately, I don't think these insights into Adrien, his character, and his relationships was successfully integrated into the mystery.  There's also a bunch of random, literary-sounding quotes (one of which is the source of the title) which are never really explained.  Although Adrien does do some sleuthing, he's not particularly good at it, and the murderer literally pins him down before he's identified. 

But as this is the first book in the series, I'm going to give Adrien a pass on his lame detecting skillz and hope that they improve in the future.  Fatal Shadows was, for the most part, definitely a book worth checking out.

Other opinions:
Smexy Books (really a review of The Dark Tide, the last book in the series)
Dear Author

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