Monday, October 6, 2008

THE HELL YOU SAY by Josh Lanyon

Reviewed by Neil S. Plakcy
The Hell You Say, Josh Lanyon’s third mystery in the Adrien English series, gets off to a fast start with a phone call to Adrien’s mystery bookstore, Cloak and Dagger Books in Pasadena. His clerk, Angus, has been hanging out with a group of fellow UCLA students who’ve delved a little too deep into Satanism, and someone’s calling the store to put a deadly hex on Angus.

Author of a series about a gay Shakespearean actor who’s also an amateur sleuth, Adrien is also, in a twist of fate known only to mystery writers, an amateur detective himself. Trying to help his clerk, Adrien finds himself getting caught up in a world of curses, demons, and murder.
In the great tradition of amateur sleuths everywhere, Adrien has a connection to the police force, and in his case it’s his sometime boyfriend, Jake Riordan. Why only sometime? The deeply closeted Jake also has a girlfriend, and only a few people are privy to his occasional desire for man-on-man love. Adrien must contend not only with inverted pentagrams painted on his doorstep, but also with his lover’s fervent attempts to keep him out of the case—to keep their relationship from going public.

Adrien’s life is filled with interesting, humorous characters, from the mousy new clerk who might just be a Wiccan to the daughters of his mother’s new beau, who greet him in “a butterfly swarm of scented breasts and long legs and silky hair.” The fast-paced plot keeps things moving along smartly, joining the Christmas season with the Witches’ Sabbat of Yule and Adrien’s mother’s impending nuptials.

Though this is the third in the series, you don’t need to have read the first two to enjoy this—you just need a taste for a witty, page-turning mystery.

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