Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE is the second book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I couldn’t wait to read it! Like MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE, Ellery Page, bumbling bookseller and outsider in a small town is caught is another tough situation when his former lover goes missing and Ellerys’s the prime suspect. I’ve also enjoyed MAINLY BY MOONLIGHT and I BURIED A WITCH if you’re interested in magical realism M/M odd-couple romance from this author.
Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.
Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?
Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.
Screenwriter Ellery Page is finally settling into Pirate’s Cove, and maybe making headway with Police Chief Jack Carson. The scare of the murder that happened in his own bookshop, Crow’s Nest, is perhaps behind him. Maybe. But, now he has a new nemesis in town: his old college lover and renown horror writer, Brandon Abbott. Brandon has purchased the Skull House, a famed pirate domicile with a history of violence and murder. Twenty years ago, a local man was murdered there, and the prime suspect disappeared.
The townsfolk of Pirate’s Cove have been super tight-lipped over that unsolved crime, and Brandon’s appearance has everyone on edge. Brandon’s horror fiction usually pulls true crime and mixes it with the supernatural. Still, those old wounds run deep, and it’s not long before Brandon goes missing. And, Ellery is the number one suspect…again. They had planned to meet that night, and Ellery even drove out to Skull House to investigate–though Chief Carson made a stop there, too, at Ellery’s request.
Ellery’s character keeps getting smeared through the local paper, and bigger news agencies are taking note. Ellery is sure that Brandon was sniffing after that unsolved murder, and when the spotlight falls on Ellery he isn’t happy for the scrutiny. This mystery is filled with characters–from the ‘dear gramps mayor’ trying to silence the investigation, to the Ellery’s bookshop employee–who publicly vows Brandon will sincerely regret buying Skull House. I thoroughly enjoyed Ellery’s sheer mortification when the Skalliwags theater troupe puts on a staging of one of his “serious” plays–and it garners rave reviews as a comedy! Oh, Ellery is the guy who never wins, no matter how hard he tries. Determined to clear his name, Ellery usually ends up in worse trouble. Still, his self-deprecation and hubris is touching. Expect Ellery and Chief Carson to explore options and make waves in this sleepy town. I like how things are progressing regarding Ellery deepening his acquaintance with Chief Carson, even if we do not have any definitive growth in the romance area. Fingers crossed they find love, because Ellery really deserves it after all the crap he’s endured.
I flew through this story, much like the first book in this series, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially those starring LGBTQ characters.
About the Author:
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.
Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), an Edgar nominee and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!