Friday, June 8, 2007

"The Hell You Say" by Josh Lanyon

Adrien English is back! I must say, I would never have imagined falling for such a character in the past. Gay fiction is not something that I ordinarily read, but Adrien has grown on me so much with each successive Lanyon book that I found myself wishing there was another book available! Sadly, this is the most recently available addition to the series, one that I'm hoping Lanyon doesn't give up on, as Adrien has matured along with Lanyon's writing. The improvement with each installment is amazing, and definitely worth checking out.

It's the holiday season and Adrien is far from festive. His employee, Angus, is being threatened/stalked/terrorized by a possible cult, resulting in Adrien offering Angus a rather sizable chunk of money to get away for a while. After all, death threats are bad for business, even in a mystery bookstore! Shortly after Angus flees, the bodies start popping up, corpses that are mutilated in horrible ways and accompanied by strange drawings, usually in the victims' blood. Jake Riordan, Adrien's on-again-off-again lover, is assigned to one of the slayings (remember, Jake is a cop) and is soon warning Adrien to stay out of it, but to be sure to direct Angus to contact Jake with any information he may have.

Adrien, of course, isn't going to let Angus fend for himself. "That boy", as Adrien's soon-to-rewed-mother Lisa refers to him, might have been quiet and a bit weird, but he's been a decent employee and good help is hard to find. Enter Professor Guy Snowden, the prof that Angus was assisting at UCLA, a rather handsome figure, one that takes an obvious interest in Adrien. A few problems with that, though - Guy may be involved in the cult shenanigans, not to mention that Adrien is still somewhat involved with Jake. The attraction between the two men is hard to miss, though, and they eventually team up to help unmask the killer.

The character development is stronger in this book than the plot is, I must say. The mystery is fairly well-done, although it falls apart a bit in the end. No matter - I read these for Adrien and his friends. The relationship with Jake is about to implode, which made me sad. Adrien's feelings for Jake are pretty deep, but as he's said before, there's no way this will last, seeing as how Jake is deeply closeted and full of self-loathing. The relationship with Lisa, Adrien's mother, is explored a bit more, but not as much as I'd like. I'm still not entirely sure I understand why he calls her by her first name, rather than "mother" - she is his biological mother, of that I'm sure, so it's a bit odd. Maybe he does it to put himself on more even footing with her, rather than the parent-child relationship, not sure. The man she's marrying and his three daughters also make an appearance, but they felt more "thrown-in" for effect. I did, however, like the youngest daughter - she showed promise, and I'm hoping that she and Adrien will interact more in future books. And I certainly hope Guy makes a return appearance as well!

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