had to be very circumspect reviewing Fatal
Shadows (the first in the series) because I didnít want to give away
the fact that Jake, the homophobic cop, becomes a feature in Adrienís
life at the end. The whole tension of Fatal Shadows depends upon whether
the killer is Jake or Bruce (the other man Adrien takes up with). I was
so hoping that the killer wouldnít be Jake. I suspected that Adrienís
feelings for him were very confusedóhow right I was.
This novel starts with Jake calling Adrien to say he canít make a date.
Nothing unusual in that: heís a cop, and cops have weird schedules. But
what gradually emerges is the most original and amusing relationship you
can imagine: Jake seems to love hanging out with Adrien, but he wonít
touch him (other than one memorable arm around a shoulder). The very thought
of kissing Adrien seems to make him slightly nauseous, and he constantly
professes a pretty homophobic heterosexuality. Not a good basis for a
gay relationship really.
Adrien, on the excuse of needing some peace and quiet to write (huh, do
other writers get that then?), takes off to the ranch he was left by his
Grandmother (mentioned in Fatal Shadows). Adrien is narrating the books,
so youíd think you were getting honest self-analysis. Yeah, likeÖ not!
We know the real reason Adrien is suddenly taking off. We know
that his feeling for Jake now run very, very deep, and he canít handle
Jakeís confusing and hurtful responses to him.
Never mind, we love Adrien, so we go along with his emotional denials.
Theyíre very amusing, and Lanyon handles this with a deftness of touch
that leaves your heart aching for Adrien at the same time as laughing
wryly at his stupidity. Heís such a bright guy for all problems but his
Adrien arrives at the ranch heís not seen for twenty-four years (I love
the scene where a reproachful woman in a local shop accuses him of not
coming for his grandmotherís funeral, and he points out that he was eight
and didnít have his drivers licence) only to find a dead body in the roadway.
By the time the local police get there, itís gone, and thus we are plunged
delightfully into the latest Adrien English mystery.
I particularly love the way that these books are like layers upon layers.
The author is, apparently, a gay bookseller who lives with an (ex) LAPD
cop and writes mystery stories about a gay bookseller who loves an LAPD
cop and writes mystery stories. Itís very cleverly done, and I love that
Lanyon (through Adrien) uses the fact that he has a wide knowledge of
fiction to talk, for example, about Joseph Hansen and his Dave Brandstetter
series. As those of you who read these reviews will know, we adore Dave
and the whole Brandstetter series. Hansen is constantly referred to in
reviews as ďthe worthy successor to HammettĒ. Well, Lanyon is the worthy
successor to the late Hansen. Heís taken the gay detective genre (are
there enough gay detective novels to form a genre?) and given it a delightfully
refreshing twist. The sex is more graphic in these books than in Hansen
or Stevenson (the Don Strachey novels), but itís still sparse compared
to many modern gay novels. However, that only makes it more erotic when
it does appear: so delicately sprinkled into the plot that it falls like
sweet rain on arid earth.
Jake must be the most original creation in gay fiction Iíve read so far.
That he resists Adrien so hard when all the time we can see that heís
head over heels for him, but that Adrien canít seem to see this at all
makes the most delicious tension throughout the novel. I didnít read this
book, I devoured it. Thank goodness Lanyon is writing the third in the
series: ďThe Hell You SayĒ.†
He has a great website by the way:
You must buy these books (not easy to get hold of Fatal Shadows
in the UK), read them and then email Lanyon and badger him about finishing
the next one. I intend to.
I need my Adrien/Jake fix.
you liked Fatal Shadows the first
book (in what I hope will be a multi-volume series) featuring mouthy bookseller
and soon-to-be-published gay mystery novelist Adrien English, I guarantee
youíll love this follow-on.† Itís a more accomplished effort
that displays Lanyonís greater maturity as a writer.†
Adrien, the slender sleuth with the dodgy ticker, and Jake Riordan, the
hunky LA homicide cop buried so deep in the closet (says Adrien bitterly)
he doesnít know where to look for himself, have a deliciously complicated
Adrien is 32, openly and happily gay as a goose, looking for love and
commitment, a companion to share his life and a warm willing body in his
empty bed.† Namely Jake, prime hunk of all-American beef, with leonine
eyes, golden hair and big arms Ade longs to feel holding him tight as
prelude to greater intimacy.† Riordan, however, prefers to think heís
straight.† Except when the hunger gets too much then he puts on the leathers
to punish himself for his unnatural desire with a bit of S&M.† Gay
sex he can do, but love & affection with another man would compromise
his precious masculinity and force him to admit heís gay as Adrien.
Itís two months since Jake saved Adrienís skin when he went up against
the Gay Slasher.† Jake put his life on the line and his career at risk,
all he-man protective.† WE know Jake cares for Adrien.† Adrien THINKS
he does, but isnít prepared to put up with Jakeís ambivalence because
itís driving him crazy with unrequited passion and no affection or intimacy.†
Heís lonely and frustrated, and his creative juices have dried up under
the strain.† Struggling with that difficult second novel (hah!), he decides
to escape the distractions of Pasadena and the pressure of Jakeís hot/cold
attitude, for the peace and tranquillity of the ranch in Mother lode country
left him by his old granny, along with the legacy that underwrites his
However, things donít go according to plan. When Adrien arrives at the
old homestead thereís a body at the gate, and once more heís called upon
to turn detective for real, putting his own life in danger.† By the time
the local sheriff arrives, however, the body has vamoosed.† Then Adrien
finds grass (NOT the green kind) growing all over his hillside and a bunch
of archaeologists from a local college digging on his land at Spaniardís
Of course, in a crisis the first person Ade turns to is Jake, sexually
confused, self-hating King of Denial.† Except when he phones, Jake has
company.† Of the female kind.† Adrien is understandably angry and very
jealous.† Is it time to say good-bye?† And what about Kevin, the cute
grad student who clearly has the hots for Adrien?† Is he the one?
When Adrien & Jake are alone together itís so good between them.†
I love the way Jake calls Ade Ďbabyí and the small details of intimacy
like Adrien getting off on watching Jake lick his candy coated fingers.†
Thereís a nice Dakota & Benny vibe in the
old ranch house, and the way weíre told what theyíre cooking and eating
reminded me also of Dave Brandstetter
& Cecil.† But Jake is so frustrating!†
Youíd think being straight was some kind of holy virtue the way he wants
so badly to hold onto it.† Anyway those labels donít matter and feelings
have no gender.† I just love how this book takes their relationship onto
another level as Jake discovers sex isnít at all what itís about.† I hope
Lanyon gets book #3 finished and published soon as I NEED to know what
happens next.† Highly recommended.