Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary M/M cozy mystery from Josh Lanyon. SCANDAL AT THE SALTY DOG is the fourth book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and I’m a huge fan! Previous titles include: MURDER AT PIRATE’S COVE, SECRET AT SKULL HOUSE, and MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE, and this episode has Ellery Page, bumbling bookseller and outsider in a small town, caught in another mystery when one of his eccentric clients asks him to look into the ghoul that’s been terrorizing her. 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.
Mystery Stalks the Cobbled Streets of Pirate’s Cove
Who or what is haunting elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell, what does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog Pub–and why is any of it mystery bookshop owner Ellery Page’s problem? According to sometimes boyfriend Police Chief Jack Carson, it’s not Ellery’s problem, and Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it’s too late.
Ellery couldn’t agree more, but it’s hard to say no when someone is as frightened as old Mrs. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell insists the ghost of long dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan.
Before Ellery can say, “Yikes!” Mrs. Blackwell takes a tumble down the grand staircase of her spooky mansion, and it’s up to Ellery to find who is trying to kill his eccentric customer.
Screenwriter and former actor Ellery Page is finally settling into quaint but active Pirate’s Cove. He’s got himself a steady beau in Police Chief Jack Carson, even though Jack is continually challenged by Ellery’s penchant for getting caught up in murder plots in real life. They seem to have a truce on Ellery making unauthorized investigations–especially since the last time netted the criminal plus a cracked skull. Ellery’s just getting over his concussion when another mystery seems to be knocking on his door.
Miss Juliet Blackwell is an elderly woman and life-long resident of Pirate’s Cove. She is a spinster and peculiar, never letting people into her spacious, though now-crumbling, mansion. Ellery was asked to deliver some of her new book purchases, and while there he hears Miss Blackwell screaming in terror. He’s not terribly well, but he is able to climb through an open window and rescue Juliet who had a nasty fall and is terrified the ghost of her pirate ancestor has finally come a-calling to take her home to rest. Thing is, Ellery was sure another person was in Juliet’s home at the time of her “attack” though she later denies seeing anyone.
On a side note, a fellow Scrabbler, Libby, is filling in for her injured father, Tom, running their family tavern and boarding house, the Salty Dog Inn. Libby is a just 18, and she’s had some upsets with her dad taking sick and her last boyfriend getting into big legal trouble, so Ellery is pretty sure Libby’s reports of theft from her bar and kitchen are just borne out of pressure and exhaustion. However, his promise to quietly investigate lead to further mayhem. And, Jack is feeling decidedly salty about Ellery doing anything remotely dangerous, or sleuth-y, since the debacle at the Bloodworth crypt a few weeks back.
This is a fast-paced mystery that really digs deeper into to history of Pirate’s Cove, as well as that of its enigmatic citizens. I loved the scandal, as well as the cave explorations–a tunnel system that dates back to the pirate age and has been in continuous use for sometimes-nefarious dealings. Jack is stellar as a foil to Ellery, who really IS trying to not get murdered, or injured, this book. They made a sweet couple in investigation as well as back home. It was awesome to see a peek behind Jack’s tough exterior, and I’m very much looking forward to watching him and Ellery fall deep into love in future stories.
It’s a little less dramatic than the previous books, in that the death doesn’t come at the beginning of the story. Ellery’s a champ throughout, and his compassion–even for his biggest enemies–is really astounding. 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!