Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE is the third book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I just adored it! Like MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE and SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE, Ellery Page, bumbling bookseller and outsider in a small town is caught in another mystery when there’s a murder during a masquerade party and the prime suspect is a young man who’s fallen hard for Ellery. 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.
Love is in the Salt Sea Air–and So is Murder!
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley—a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood. Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out—does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out.
As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery
Screenwriter and former actor Ellery Page is finally settling into quaint but active Pirate’s Cove. He’s got himself an unexpected invitation for the party of the season, a masquerade ball at the Bloodworth house–one of the many pirate mansions dotting the cove. It turns out that Julian Bloodsworth-Ainsley is a big fan of Ellery, finding him both mature and attractive, and he wanted a chance to spend some time with Ellery that could be fun and lead to frisky times. Though Ellery is a bit smitten with Police Chief Jack Carson, it doesn’t seem that Jack is ready to make any true advances, due to his long-standing heartbreak and fear of commitment. Besides, Jack’s pretty busy investigating the rash of burglaries that have been plaguing the grand houses and wealthy of Pirate’s Cove for the past few months.
Flattered by Julian’s attention, Ellery mostly enjoys the masquerade, until Julian’s uncouth and mean stepfather turns up dead. While the man’s mistress and wife are both suspects it’s also Julian that Jack has his eye on–after finding the body and messing up the crime scene. Ellery feels terrible for Julian, because he believes the young man is being set up, and Jack seems pretty resolute on developing a case against Julian. And, of course, Ellery is still plagued by the editor of the local paper, who thinks that it’s Ellery’s activity which deserves far more scrutiny.
I loved how Ellery is now becoming a man of the town in his own right. His friends are all in his corner, and his eye for detail is definitely a point in this amateur sleuth’s favor. He’s willing to go the extra mile for his friends, new and old, and it shows in all his actions. I love that he finally takes on the editor of the paper, and stands up to Jack for Julian’s sake when it’s necessary. His bookshop is a hub of fellow sleuthers–though they are more overt than Ellery, who, more often than not, stumbles into scenes and clues as opposed to LOOKING for a mystery to solve.
This case leave a lasting mark on Ellery, one that gives both him and Jack pause. Recognizing (again for Jack) the shortness of life spurs them both on to becoming a bit more serious. Don’t expect steam, it’s a cozy mystery with a dash of a romance.
I flew through this story, much like the previous books 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!