My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m going back and listening to the audiobook versions of this series and finally writing reviews for the individual books. I can’t believe I never wrote them the first time but suffice it to say my enjoyment has probably only increased since the first time I read this series. The narrator, Chris Patton, is really good and I’m often surprised by the nuance he manages to interject into the character’s voices. No question that audiobooks hinge greatly on the use of great narrators and Patton is a great choice. I find the books so engrossing that I literally can’t seem to stop listening. The stories themselves are solid but the narration makes them extremely difficult to put down. I’m nearly speed listening through this series.
But anyway – A Dangerous Thing is book two in the Adrien English series and it offers a tepid mystery but more importantly, much more depth to Adrien and Jake’s relationship. Here Adrien has run off to an old ranch he inherited from his paternal grandmother after Jake cancels yet another date. Not surprisingly Adrien immediately encounters a dead body as soon as he gets to the deserted ranch but the body has disappeared once he left to summon help. Thus starts his rocky relationship with the local police and Jake is summoned to untangle Adrien from his latest blunders. Because Adrien simply can’t stop himself from investigating a murder on his own, because the police are all idiots and only Adrien can solve anything, he tromps his way through suspects and increasingly complicated motives.
The murder mystery is interesting enough but I found it bland. It’s incredibly convoluted and frankly the connections make little to no sense. There are a group of amateur archeologists that are important to the story in leaving bread crumbs of details but they’re not really that interesting on their own. The various ghost stories had me zoning out and wanting to skip ahead in the narration. The eventual conclusion actually makes sense, if you can buy into all the various mental leaps and plot holes that occur to get there. That said, it’s not difficult to read and the mystery mostly sets the backdrop for some developments between Jake and Adrien’s relationship, finally.
I’d forgotten a lot about their romantic relationship so I was pleased to see how it finally progressed and the small tenderness they shared. It’s not an OTT or even very romantic relationship, which makes the quiet moments all that more meaningful. When they share an actual kiss and furthermore have sex, the scenes have weight and it’s clear these are turning points in their relationship. As a character, Adrien is incredibly impulsive, often jumping in without much thought or care and is careless about his own mortality. He’s clearly in love with Jake but cautious since he knows the relationship is going to break his heart someday even while he secretly hopes it’ll work out. This push-pull dynamic keeps the tension high since the reader, and Adrien, is never sure which way Jake will respond to any particular situation. Jake is gruff and often mysterious. The story is told from Adrien’s first person perspective so what Jake thinks, cares, or even wants is never clear. He comes across as an asshole partly because he is and partly because Adrien is so frustrated with the limitations placed on them. I know they eventually have a happy ending but it’s clear there will be a lot of drama and heartache to get there.
Overall I found the mystery portion of the book less interesting but it made a decent enough background to progress the relationship. It allowed Jake and Adrien to be isolated together and have a lot of time to work some things out and come together finally. Although not overtly romantic, I think the romance aspect was much stronger than the mystery aspect for this book. However the great narrator helped smooth over any boring parts with his excellent voice and great use of nuance. I just liked listening to him so I didn’t mind when the story would get bogged down in red herrings, irrelevant details, and silly decisions on Adrien’s part. It’s an easy story and series to recommend and especially the audiobook versions.