Title: The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks #2)
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publisher: JustJoshin Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Genre(s): Murder Mystery
Page Count: 184
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Now living in Los Angeles with former navy SEAL Nick Reno, artist Perry Foster comes to the rescue of elderly and eccentric Horace Daly, the legendary film star of such horror classics as Why Won’t You Die, My Darling?
Horace owns the famous, but run-down, Hollywood hotel Angels Rest, rumored to be haunted. But as far as Perry can tell, the scariest thing about Angels Rest is the cast of crazy tenants–one of whom seems determined to bring down the final curtain on Horace–and anyone else who gets in the way.
Perry Foster is drawing sketches of the Angel’s Rest Hotel when he hears cries for help coming from the decrepit building. As he rushes over, he crosses three fleeing persons, all of them clad in capes and skeleton masks and carrying wooden swords. Their victim has escaped their aggression unhurt, as Perry discovers, and is none other than famous horror film star Horace Daly, now in his seventies and owner of the hotel. He grudgingly confides to Perry that this hasn’t been the first time someone’s tried to kill him. Intrigued, the young man promises he’ll come back to get to the bottom of things.
The following day Perry returns accompanied by his boyfriend, PI Nick Reno, a former navy SEAL. They meet several of the hotel’s tenants, all as eccentric as their landlord: Horace’s cousin Sissy and her husband Jonah; young Ami Savitri; louche Ned Duke, purportedly a writer; Horace’s former bodyguard Enzo Juri; one of Horace’s former movie co-stars, Wynne Winthrop; Gilda, a psychic; and last but not least, Wally, the hotel pet… a full-grown alligator. Nick’s first encounter with Horace turns out sub-optimal because the old man keeps holding back information which could be crucial for finding the truth. Unfortunately, the questions start to multiply. Does someone really want to do away with Horace as the old man claims? If yes, who? And why? Could it be Troy Cavendish, who’s been Horace’s lover in the 70s and who’s looking for late revenge? Or is Horace just a crazy old coot, as his dear cousin Sissy repeatedly alleges?
I won’t expand on the plot, which moves forward at a steady pace. Being a big fan of Josh Lanyon’s novels, I have to admit I’m of two minds on this one. Of course, I’d recommend it unblinkingly to all and sundry as just another good Lanyon murder mystery. A pleasant read, a gripping tale. Ms Lanyon knows how to write and how to push the right buttons (for instance, picture someone venturing into a dark place—of course, I all but yelled, “Jeez! Don’t! Go! There!” before realizing I’d just been yelling at my e-reader). But I couldn’t shake off the feeling that when writing this book, the author had had less fun, had been less inspired somehow (I certainly won’t dwell on the cover, which is clearly not a selling point). That’s the danger when you’ve already read so many books of one author: you start to compare. I missed the light and witty dialogues I found in many of her other stories. I totally “got” Perry’s character, and I found some secondary characters very convincing and lively as well (Sissy and her husband Jonah, for instance). Nick and Horace, on the other hand, came across less powerfully. The romantic relationship between Nick and Perry felt sincere but lacked the steam and passion I experienced in other Lanyon-books.
But all of this cannot overshadow the essential thing: I spend a perfectly good time and went through the story without putting the book down even once. And that is a selling point.