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by Josh Lanyon
Gay Men's Press, May 2000
190 pages
ISBN: 1902852095

They've been friends ever since high school, so Adrien English is understandably upset when his friend and assistant at his gay and gothic whodunit bookstore is found savagely stabbed in an alley in Los Angeles. What's even more disturbing is the fact that he's considered the prime suspect because he and Robert Hersey had an argument at dinner the night before. Even though the disagreement was solely about the fact that Robert was not doing his part at work, the police feel that it was a lover's quarrel that incensed Adrien enough to stab Robert repeatedly.

Even though the two detectives on the case, Chin and Riordan, spout forth with every homosexual stereotype in the book, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Robert was a slut; but he and Adrien were not lovers. Adrien has been living an almost celibate life since the demise of his last meaningful relationship almost 5 years earlier. Adrien feels almost certain that Rob's death is connected to somebody with whom he just began a relationship, one that he had told nobody about.

Strange things begin happening in Adrien's life. He receives dark red funeral roses. Somebody trashes his bookstore. He feels as if he is being stalked; the police think he is setting up these events to clear himself. The tide begins to turn in his favor when Detective Riordan seems willing to work with him. Adrien feels that all of this is somehow tied to the past, especially when he learns of another high school friend who suffered a violent death. Unfortunately, another good friend is killed before the situation is resolved.

I really liked this book. Lanyon has created a very sympathetic character in Adrien. Even though this is a gay mystery, the sexuality angle is not in your face. It's a mystery about people who care about one another and how evil can live and fester before it manifests itself. Even though I'm a "stupid sleuth" who generally can't figure out who the villain is, it was very easy in this book. That's about the only negative, though. The narrative flows smoothly; the characters are well developed. And the ending was absolutely perfect.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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