‘Death of a Pirate King’ by Josh Lanyon

The fourth Adrien English mystery is the finest yet with such rich complexity that no synopsis can do justice to the work. A mystery bookstore owner and writer, Adrien is attending a Hollywood bash, pushing for his newly bought novel to actually make it to the screen, when the rich backer at his side keels over head first into his bowl of vichyssoise. And Adrien just may have handed him the poisoned drink that caused his departure. Thus, it with mixed feelings that Adrien realizes Lt. Jake Riordan has attached himself to the detective investigating the case. There’s little doubt Jake can protect him. The question is, is Adrien really over their year-long, quite closeted affair? Matters will get even more complicated, he knows, if he accepts host Paul Kane’s request to investigate the murder on his own. But the Hollywood star is also the one slated to appear in the film, if it ever gets made. So Adrien reluctantly accepts, despite still suffering from a bad case of pneumonia that had almost done his rheumatic heart in – and despite finding out that Kane had continued to be Jake’s playmate all the time he and Adrien were together.

Is it Jake’s return into his life or the aftereffect of the pneumonia that is leading to a definite problem in Adrien’s sex life with his new lover, Guy Snowden? Fans on various internet discussion groups have been pushing the author to bring Jake and Adrien back together. The way Lanyon handles the love triangle demonstrates what a masterful artist he has evolved into. Not until one finishes the novel can one also realize all the ironies involved in Jake and Adrien’s re-encounter with each other. Meanwhile, Adrien’s investigation takes him into the homes of various Hollywood types. Past events in their intertwined lives suddenly loom large. Mystery and romance have here been woven together in an intricate pattern where the one reinforces the other, all the while that the villain is playing his own devious game.
by Josh Lanyon
MLR Press
ISBN 9781934531310
Paperback, $14.99, 235 pp.