Tuesday, May 8, 2007

"Fatal Shadows" by Josh Lanyon

This is one of those books that somehow ended up on my Amazon list. I'm not really sure why it landed on the "recommended for you" list, but it sounded interesting enough to give it a shot, and let's face it, clocking in at 150 pages, I knew it wouldn't take more than a few hours to read.

So, was it worth it? Yes and no. First off, it's a gay mystery story, so if gay fiction isn't your thing, stop right here. Again, I'm not sure what I flagged that caused the recommendation, but I'm always willing to try a new book, regardless of the sexual orientation of the main characters. Second, it's a first novel (I think), and those can always have some flaws too big to overlook, ones that make it difficult to go on to the sophomore work.

The basic story here is that the good friend and co-worker of Adrien English is murdered and Adrien might be a suspect. It soon becomes obvious that a serial killer is on the prowl, one that has targeted past classmates of Adrien's. Is he the next target or the killer?

That's it. I know, I know - the plot is that simple? Well, yes, given that the author only put 150 pages of work into it. It's not a horrible plot, but it was fairly easy to see the set-up; in other words, no big surprises. Adrien is likable enough, not written flamboyantly gay, although the author mentioned his heart condition a few too many times, I thought. (He suffers from an irregular heartbeat, which I know can cause problems for some, but I was under the impression that with all our medical advancements that most can and do live very full lives with this condition) There are a pair of police detectives that interview/harass Adrien, and one (the more "burly" one) seems to be showing more interest than he should. There are Adrien's friends, who are written more in what one thinks of as the gay stereotype. And there are the frequent dialogues about how hard it is to be a gay man, what with the prejudices and hate crimes that still occur, even in gay-friendly cities.

It wasn't a terrible offering, but I think Lanyon needs more work. I might try the second book just to see if things improve. I'm sincerely hoping that he's picked up a better editing staff - this work suffers from misspellings, bad punctuation, and at one point, seems to be missing about half a paragraph entirely. Normally these things are easily overlooked for me, but not in a work this short. This is really more of a novella, and you just can't afford to be sloppy in something this sparse; people remember seeing the mistakes.

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