Title: The Dark Tide
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: Just Joshing
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, murder mystery
Length: Novel (81K words)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
As if recovering from heart surgery beneath the gaze of his over-protective family wasn’t exasperating enough, someone keeps trying to break into Adrien English’s bookstore. What is this determined midnight intruder searching for?
When a half-century old skeleton tumbles out of the wall in the midst of the Cloak and Dagger Bookstore renovation, Adrien turns to hot and handsome ex-lover Jake Riordan — now out-of-the closet and working as a private detective.
Jake is only too happy to have reason to stay in close contact with Adrien, but there are more surprises in Adrien’s past than either one of them expects — and one of them may prove hazardous to Jake’s own heart.
Adrien English Mysteries
Adrien was recuperating at home from open heart surgery performed three weeks earlier after he nearly died from a gun shot wound, and he’s disgusted at his body’s slow recovery. At the end of Death of a Pirate King he had been shot by Paul Kane, a Hollywood actor who was one of Jake’s lovers, something about which Adrien was unaware until it was almost too late, and he was only alive because Jake refused to let him die.
Now that he was out of hospital and back in his own apartment at last, after spending some time at his mother’s (Lisa’s) house going crazy, Adrien was happy to have just his new cat for company. However, on his first night home, instead of getting a good night’s sleep there was an attempted break-in and he calls Jake when 911 puts him on hold. Jake was now retired from the LAPD after 20 years and was working as a private investigator. Of course he rushes right over to make sure that Adrien is okay and it is deja vu all over again, reminiscent of their very first meeting in Fatal Shadows.
The next day the construction crew working on the expansion of Adrien’s bookstore the “Cloak and Dagger” found a body under the floorboards that had been there at least 50 years, prompting yet another murder investigation in which Adrien is front and centre, even though he is not a suspect this time.
In The Dark Tide Adrien’s past is alive and well. His first ex, Mel Davis is back 7 years later, as is Guy who very few fans of the series liked because he was so fake. Adrien plays them both as he tries to decide which one would get the big prize. However, someone else has a say in what happens eventually in Adrien’s love life, and the relationship dynamics in this book are way more complex than in any of the previous 4 stories. You’ll have to read the book to find out how it all plays out in the high stakes game of winner gets the in-demand, hot Adrien. 😀
The murder mystery is actually better than I’m accustomed to in a Josh Lanyon book as I didn’t solve this one for a long time. This author is either getting better or my detecting skills are in sore need of a refresher course. As usual there were many false clues and red herrings, and since the crime was 50 years old, disentangling the mystery took a while. To complicate the investigation there was a second murder which turned the case on its axle.
During the course of the investigation, as is the norm in any AE mystery, I met many new characters, and one of them who impressed me was Jinx, sister of the dead man. When questioned by Adrien, at one point she made this impassioned speech –
“You’ve never been afraid,” she said harshly. …… “You’ve been protected and pampered all your life, and you don’t know what fear is. Not real fear. Not gut-wrenching, piss-your-pants, do anything…You know what it is? It’s a dark tide sweeping in and pulling you out into the deep. Way out. And you go with it even when you know you should fight, even when you know the end will be your destruction, because you’re too afraid not to. You’ll trade your soul for one day, one hour, one minute more of safety. It’s why people do the things they do — that dark tide dragging them along like an undertow.”
I had never thought about life that way before.
Josh Lanyon’s writing is skillful as always and his prose is among the best, but I thought that at times he played with the readers’ heartstrings by piling on memory after memory. Lanyon saves his best for last as his characters shine as never before. The Dark Tide did something that most series don’t do well – it completed the series and character arcs in a way that made sense and did not compromise either. Adrien and Jake have been through a lot in the five books that comprise the Adrien English Mysteries and at times I wondered if the genii could be put back in the bottle because there has been enough hurt to go around twice and both characters bore the wounds. In this book the author gave us another take on his two favourite protagonists with lots of grief, angst and soul searching but this time he tries to make things right– whether he achieved his objective is for the readers to judge. I can say from my perspective that whatever the author intended in terms of the emotional content of this story, he succeeded beyond my expectations, as a fan of the series.
Many characters return, some not quite as lovable as others. There are surprises and you will be happy to see a few old faces. But with the good comes the bad and Jake’s and Adrien’s nemesis, LAPD Homicide Detective Alonzo is just as offensive as ever as he heads up the murder investigation for a while and throws his considerable weight around, trying to show who has the power now that Jake is no longer with the LAPD. However things don’t go exactly his way and there is one scene towards the end of the book where Adrien takes him on and gave Alonzo his comeuppance. What a delight to see Adrien in rare form!
This is the last book in the Adrien English Mysteries and in the end, while the plots are important, it’s all about the characters. Some readers will feel vindicated, others will feel that the end was appropriate, there will be those who will want more, more, more and last, a few fans will feel that Jake has not been punished enough.
As for the characters, Adrien is Adrien, much loved with a few faults but nothing too destructive. The fans love him because he is normal like most of us, so we relate to him, especially as he had a serious illness which prevented him from being an alpha hero. Despite his still precarious health he seemed the stronger of the two as he makes demands and shows that he’s no one’s door mat. Conversely, Jake’s layers and vulnerabilities are so exposed in this book that it’s as if he’s naked at times. Perhaps the tough guy image was not as real as we thought but merely a facade because he didn’t want anyone to know the real Jake, but that will be up to the readers to judge. Jake has always been my favourite (and I know I’m in the minority here) because his was the more complex character. I was really surprised at how much he evolved during the course of this series, which had a lot to do with him being in the closet initially and then coming out, but that was not what defined him. He was strong and caring and even if he didn’t say so, he loved Adrien as he proved at the end of Death of a Pirate King. Jake had a lot of human failings and many flaws, and some of his behaviour may be unconscionable, but while he showed considerable growth in TDT he remained true to the character and still a bit of an enigma, which is the way it should be. His tarnished image from THYS got a bit of polishing at the end of Death of a Pirate King and maybe he will come full circle in The Dark Tide.
You may be tempted to read the last pages first to see how it all ends, however if you do you will miss the synergy between Jake and Adrien that flows throughout the book. Try to resist the temptation — The Dark Tide is like a wonderful dessert that you have waited a long time to enjoy, and you should taste and savour every delicious moment rather than take one huge bite.
I could tell you how it ends but both you and Josh would kill me 😀 This is probably the longest review I have ever written but there was a lot to say about the end of this series. Despite its length there are no spoilers in this review because I know how important this book is to fans of the series.
This book is not a standalone and should be read as part of the Adrien English Mysteries. The Dark Tide will be released on December 22nd.