Review: Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon – It’s still good the second time around

Fatal Shadows (Adrien English Mystery, #1)Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’ve been re-reading books I quite liked previously and was excited to see that the Adrien English series from Josh Lanyon was on audiobook. So I dove right in. I was then even more surprised that I hadn’t reviewed this series before so here I am. I know I liked the series and that feeling has continued with this reading. I found more problems than I remember noticing but overall it was as good as I remember and I was absorbed right away. I definitely forgot more than I remembered about the series, characters, and mysteries so in some ways I’m reading with an open mind and no preconceived notions. I’m curious how I’ll feel about the series as a whole when I’m done. For now, I liked the opener book a lot but it had some glaring plot problems at the end. If anyone hasn’t read this series I easily recommend it and even more so recommend this particular narrator who is good.

In the opener book of the series, we’re introduced to Adrien-with-an-e English, a bookseller and mystery author with a bad heart. He’s just been informed that his best friend and co-worker have been brutally stabbed to death in an alley and of course Adrien is the prime suspect. He’s being investigated by pair of cops that seems to think since both Adrien and the victim, Rob, are gay that means Adrien is guilty. In a somewhat desperate move to prove his innocence and stop what seems to be a new stalker, Adrien gets deeply involved in the case.

The mystery itself is the cornerstone of the book. There is a romance between Adrien and a reporter, Bruce, and some definite chemistry with Adrien and new love interest Jake Riordan, but the story hinges on the mystery itself. That is both good and bad since the murder crime is kind of boring. It’s not all that interesting since it takes a really long time to go anywhere and the final resolution is slightly over the top. I give the author credit for putting the work in to make the villain and motive as believable as possible but there’s some definite suspension of disbelief needed to continue with the story and not check out.

What works the best for me is the main character of Adrien. He’s funny, self-deprecating, and could come across as weak due to his faulty heart but he stands up for himself and has real strength. I liked his vulnerability and even his flaws and he was a very engaging narrator. It helped that I knew he and Jake would eventually become lovers with a long, complicated relationship so I could enjoy the early flirtation and chemistry. Likewise the narrator is very good. I liked his voice and the various inflections he put on all the characters, which kept all the dialogue parts separate. His voice was exactly how I imagine Adrien’s to be so I was swept up in the story almost immediately.

My main issue was that the ending simply made me want to scream. Towards the end the bad guy is pretty obvious, well before Adrien figures it out. However, Adrien then tries to rationalize some silly behavior that doesn’t make any sense and frankly doesn’t work. The point of course is to lead to a dramatic conclusion but I found the justification weak and stupid. (view spoiler)

Overall I liked the book mostly due to the main character and the audiobook narrator. The mystery was a little boring and over the top but I knew the series only got better so I was eager to re-explore how it all started. Plus when Jake calls Adrien “baby” at the end, well that is a great scene. The book had me sighing happily.

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