The Full House Reading Challenge – So This is Christmas – Josh Lanyon

Genre: Detective, LGBT, Romantic suspense

Narrative Style: First person, chronological

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2016

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: On returning early from a trip to London with his family, Adrien English is greeted by an old acquaintance who is clearly in a mess. His boyfriend has disappeared and he suspects the family of foul play. Adrien knows just the person to help. 

Reading Challenge: Full House Reading Challenge – Genre – Seasonal. 

Okay so this is not something I would normally do – read a book set at Christmas. Obviously sometimes I do read things that happens to be set at Christmas but that would not be the main selling point. That would not be why I chose to read it. But I knew that if I continued to read this series I wouldn’t be too irritated.

And I wasn’t. This was an enjoyable – and fitting end to the saga of Adrien and Jake.  I won’t spoil the ending but needless to say, anyone who has followed the on-off-back-in the-closest nature of their relationship should be pretty happy.

The family details were interesting and Lanyon captured the difference between Adrien’s family and Jake’s really well. To be honest, I would have been happy reading that without the mystery of Kevin’s disappearing boyfriend.

The mystery did feel a little tagged on. There were some of the usual ingredients such as Adrien rushing off and almost getting into a fight and some tension as Jake was hired by the family that Kevin suspected had bumped him off but mostly it was not very involving.

Overall, though, it was enjoyable and the season too be jolly wasn’t too difficult to take.

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Books Read in 2015 35. Death of a Pirate King – Josh Radnor (Contains spoilers)

Genre: LGBT, Detective

Narrative Style: First person, chronologicalUnknown-1

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2008

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: Now that Jake has married and Adrien feels he can no longer keep seeing him, he has tried to put their relationship behind him and even has a new boyfriend, Guy. However, when there is a murder at a Hollywood party that Adrien is attending, their paths cross again as Adrien is once again a suspect in a murder.

In some ways, there isn’t a lot I can say about this book that I haven’t said in previous reviews. That is not a bad things. All the things that make this series enjoyable are there – Adrien poking his nose in where he shouldn’t, the sexual tension between Jake and himself, the relationship between Adrien and his family. All these factors make these books so much more than mere detective fiction.

There were a couple of niggles. I actually felt quite sorry for Jake – Adrien was incredibly mean to him – so I felt anyway. Perhaps I was just impatient for them to finally get it together. And it was worth it when at the end Jake decides to leave the force and come out of the closet. (Although it did seem a bit too fairy tale to really be true.)

Also, I was never really convinced by the killer, Paul Kane. He was too much the charicature of a Hollywood actor. And it didn’t really make sense that he and Jake would be so close although it did provide added tension in Jake’s relationship with Adrien.

That said, I still found this hard to put down and the ending was suitably satisfying. I’m a bit sad that I am almost at the end of this series but I can see how with Jake out of the closet, there may not be much further to take the series.

Books Read in 2015. 6. The Hell You Say – Josh Lanyon

Genre: Crime, GLBT

Narrative Style: First Person, Chronologicalhell_you_say_2011

Rating: 4/5

Published: 2006

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: This is the third book in the Adrien English series. Angus, Adrien’s assistant at his bookstore has been receiving threatening phone calls. Adrien foolishly loans him the money to disappear for a while. Foolish because it soon becomes apparent that Angus is involved in some sort of demonic cult and, as usual, Adrien feels compelled to investigate, getting himself into all sorts of trouble as a consequence. Adrien is still sort of involved with closeted cop Jake Riordan. Even Adrien isn’t exactly sure whether to call it a relationship and Jake certainly doesn’t. That word is reserved for the woman he is also involved with.

Although this was a really good read, it has probably been my least favourite so far. The main reason for this is that the romance between Adrien and Jake came to a dead end when Jake announces he had got his girlfriend pregnant. Maybe this is a good thing for Adrien in the long run but I was hoping that it would run the other way and he would realise that Adrien was who he really wanted. Of course, I am sure that Jake will still be involved in future books in the series but it would seem unlikely that his and Adrien’s relationship will ever be anything other than on again, off again which is a bit depressing.

The thriller elements were all in place and, as usual, Lanyon walks between sending up typical genre expectations and using them to fool the reader. There are a suitable number of red herrings and blind alleys and Adrien is always flying of on a whim which makes him an interesting narrator. The tension between the cold unemotional detecting of Jake and the police and Adrien’s more hysterical, intuitive style adds another element of tension to both the mystery and their romance.

Adrien is a sympathetic narrator. His voice is warm and funny as he sends himself up and over-dramatisises. He is easy to relate to and feel concerned for. As well as everything else he has to deal with, his mother announces that she is getting re-married and the descriptions of Adrien’s encounters with his three new step-sisters and ultra masculine new father are extremely amusing.

It was tempting, as always, to go to read the next instalment straightaway but I have a lot of other things to read for challenges. And I don’t want to hurry through them too quickly because then I’ll be at the end of the series. Besides, I need to have some books in reserve that I know are going to be good so that I can turn to them when I’ve read something not so great.

Books Read in 2014 26. A Dangerous Thing – Josh Lanyon

Genre: Crime, GLBT

Narrative Style: First person, chronological

Rating: 4/517608680

Format: Kindle

Published: 2002

Synopsis: Fed up with his in the closet, not even sure if he should call him a boyfriend and suffering from writer’s block, Adrien English takes off to his house in the country. On arrival, he almost runs over a dead body which has disappeared into the night by the time the local cops arrive. What has Adrien stumbled into this time.

I was looking forward to reading this as I enjoyed the first in the series and had been tempted to read it straightaway. (I was tempted at the end of this one to read the third straightaway but I am rationing myself because I really don’t want to come to the end of the series.) I wasn’t disappointed and if anything I enjoyed this one more perhaps because I had more invested in the main characters this time.

Lanyon is well aware of the cliches of detective stories and sends up some of the worse excesses of the genre. Adrien is given to ridiculous flights of fancy and always puts himself in danger which could seem cliched if it wasn’t done with such self-deprecating good humour. There are a suitable amount of red herrings to keep the reader guessing and Adrien himself changes his mind about the culprits quite regularly.

As well as the action, there is the romance between Adrien and his closeted policeman friend, Jake. This also was convincing in the details. Both Jake’s unease with his sexuality and Adrien’s frustration with it were well documented. When they eventually manage to get it together, it was well handled and very sexy. However, there is still the fact that Jake casually announced that he plans to get married to a women to keep the reader interested in what happens next between them.

Overall, it was a satisfying read with the answers to the mystery being not too obvious but not too obscure either. The romance was both touching and sexy and I will definitely be reading on.

 

Books read in 2014 – 8. Fatal Shadows – Josh Lanyon

Genre: Detective, LGBT, Romantic Suspense

Narrative Style: First person narrative, Straightforward chronological timeline1274861

Rating 4/5

Format: Kindle

Published: 2000

Synopsis: Someone is out to get Adrien English. First, his closest friend and employee, Robert, is murdered and then someone ransacks his shop. Even worse, the police seem to think that he murdered Robert. And everything he tries to do to help ends up making him look even more guilty.  

I love a well-written detective story. After the annoyance of reading Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell, I wanted to read an author that I knew could deliver the goods so I decided to read the first of the Adrien English series. I wasn’t disappointed.

There are a number of things that bring me back to reading Lanyon’s work, first and foremost being the plot lines are always suspenceful with twists and turns that don’t seem forced. In short, he keeps you turning the pages. As with the main character in Come Unto These Yellow Sands, Adrien is very good at getting himself into awkward situations which adds an extra dimension to the suspense.

The character of Adrien was convincing and I took to him straight away. Lanyon shows the homophobia that he faces without making him seem like a victim and while he has some of the stereotypical traits of a gay man, he never seems like a type but like a real person. His first person narrative is full of humour and ironic asides which made the reader warm to him.

To me, it was obvious from the start that Detective Riordan was gay but closeted but it may be that this was deliberate as it allowed the reader knowledge that Adrien did not have. It was soon apparent that Riordan had a crush on Adrien and was on his side, sharing knowledge with him and eventually saving his life. But as I said, it was not at all obvious to Adrien who was too busy fearing for his life to notice.

I was sorely tempted to go straight on and read the next book in the series but I’ve decided to save it for the next time I feel I need the knowledge that the book I am about to open will be really pleasing.

 

 

 

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Romantic Suspense – Awaken – Katie Kacvinsky

This genre caused me problems the first time round and this time I decided to leave it until the end as I just couldn’t decide what to read for it. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a romantic person and I do not like romance films and novels very much. I was amazed to find that I loved Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon (which I read for this genre last time round) so much. In fact, I was contemplating reading another Lanyon or something similar. But I had tried to make the books I read for each category as different as possible this time round. And it is called the Eclectic Reader Challenge after all. So I found myself trawling through lists of dreadful sounding books on Goodreads, unable to make a decision.

In the end, I asked for help from the Goodreads community and Awaken was recommended to me. It sounded interesting and certainly better than anything else I’d looked at so I decided to go with it. After all, this is the point of reading communities, to find books you would never previously have read.8665876

This book is set in a future where everyone lives through their computers and never has actual physical contact with anyone. In fact, many people never leave the house. It touches on many things that I have blogged about myself such as reading a book rather than a kindle and the thinness of online communication compared to face to face communication. Maddie, the heroine, is one such teen who is liberated from her safe online world by a group of teenagers who meet face to face, dance to actual music and go to cafes. They also protest against the controlling online digital world. So far so good.

As ever, though, the R word troubled me and I felt the love story detracted from the main story and slowed the action down too much. Even worse, I found the gendered roles stereotypical and a little depressing. It occurred to me that this is probably why I found the romance between Josh Lanyon’s gay characters easier to deal with. They didn’t fall into typical roles. In this story, Madelaine is supposed to be independent and strong, yet she cannot live without the impossibly handsome Justin even though he is arrogant, distant and talks in polemic all the time. He put his job above everything and believed he knew what was best for everyone. She fell easily into the idea of saving him from himself and breaking through all his barriers. I failed to see how it could be worth her effort.

All in all, I enjoyed the main plot about overthrowing Digital School and some good points were made about the importance of face to face communication but the romance was unconvincing and sometimes it felt like I was being hit over the head with a sign saying online communication is bad, the points were that lacking in subtlety. Overall, six out of ten.

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Romantic Suspense – Come Unto These Yellow Sands

Ok, a confession first, I think. I was not really expecting to like this genre. I thought I’d get it out of the way early on in the Eclectic Reader Challenge, so to speak. I think I have already mentioned my problem with the r-word. I love a thriller or detective novel but I have to admit that I couldn’t see how the addition of the r-word could possibly improve matters. I’m quite a fan of the hard-boiled style of detective fiction and was imagining that this was about as far from that as possible.

It took me ages to decide on a book. Probably because I had

come untoalready decided that I was going to hate it. I wasn’t really expecting to be all that thrilled when I downloaded Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon on to my kindle.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was hooked after the first chapter. In fact, I could not put it down. I was actually disappointed when my less than punctual husband was actually on time for once when he met me in the pub because I would have to stop reading. Both the romance between Swift and Max, and the suspenseful tale of one of Swfit’s student’s possible involvement in a murder were interesting and entertaining. I found I was as concerned about the ups and downs of Max and Swift’s relationship as I was about finding the real killer. I was well and truly hooked

The back stories of Swift’s addiction and the small town homophobia he finds directed at himself added depth to the writing and made this more than just a simple detective story. The characters were convincing and I felt concerned for them – especially Swift whose speciality seemed to be to put himself in danger. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I did not see the ending – or many of the twists and turns – coming.

So thanks to this reading challenge I have discovered a new author who I will definitely read more of and possibly a new genre to explore. I certainly will be more willing to read in this genre now.