Random (but not really)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Books of 2019: LGBTQ Mysteries

And the final category for the year: LGBTQ mysteries. I stumbled across Josh Lanyon and then went down the rabbit hole of some really excellent stories and mysteries.

As an FYI, these ALL have a LOT of boinking.

Mystery, LGBT (Boinking)

Single MaltLayla Reyne‘s series, Agents Irish and Whiskey, pulled me in quickly, with the first book, Single Malt (8/10), despite the fact that I generally HATE the trope of law-officers getting into a relationship. And then it kept going, with me starting the next book as soon as I finished the previous. Cask Strength (2017) (8/10) and Barrel Proof (2017) (9/10)

Aidan Talley is back at work eight months after the hit-and-run that killed his husband as well as his partner. His best friend (also his boss and his sister-in-law) has a new partner for him, but also a new case to work off the books: evidence that the hit-and-run wasn’t an accident, and that the car Aidan, Gabe and Tom were in was specifically targeted.

He’ll also be working as a mentor to his new partner, cyber expert Jameson Walker (also known as Whiskey). And if he’s lucky, he’ll be able to trust his new partner to help him discover who murdered his partner and his husband.

This series pulled me in and I read tore through all three books. Aidan is getting through his grief, which let me tolerate a lot of BS from him that I normally would. Jameson is just adorable. And Aidan has a very supportive (and amusing) family, which makes it all the better.

 


 

If you’d like to see if these stories and many of these authors are for you I highly recommend Footsteps in the Dark (2019), an anthology with stories by L.B. Gregg, Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Dal MacLean, Z.A. Maxfield, Meg Perry, C.S. Poe and S.C. Wynne (9/10).

Many of the stories ended up making me laugh.

Mindy arrived a few minutes later and surveyed the situation, shaking her head. “Damn.”

Vernon said, “Indeed. What kind of gun do we need to kill this gator, Agent Leonard?”

“Our service weapons would work, sir. But it’s illegal to kill a gator without a permit.”

Vernon scowled. “We’re the United States Air Force, dammit. We’ll shoot whatever we like.

And considering the genre, there was a good deal of life advice.

Here’s the adult learning curve in life— or mine, anyway. Adulting is about facing hard tasks, difficult decisions, and unpleasant realities. Stepping up to the plate even when you don’t want to, because you have to. But sometimes adult life requires you to stand down, listen to others, and find the grace to compromise respectfully.

There are a lot of good mysteries here and there wasn’t a single story I hated.

 


 

Fair GameI read a LOT of mysteries by Josh Lanyon. The All’s Fair series was quite excellent. Start with Fair Game (2010) (7/10) and then dive into Fair Play (2014) (8/10) and Fair Chance (2017) (9/10).

Elliot Mills left the FBI after a career ending injury. He’s now teaching at the college where his father taught for decades, but gets pulled back into investigating and working with an old flame.

I particularly liked the interactions between Elliot and his father (an old hippe).

 

The Adrien English series was up and down for me. The first books in the series are really required to get the rest of the series, but they were nowhere near as good as my two favorites, Death of a Pirate King (2011) (8/10), The Dark Tide (2011) (8/10).

Adrien is a book seller and author and in the first book he is accused of murder and ends up in a relationship with closeted cop Jake Riordan. I almost actively dislike Jake in the first several books, but he does redeem himself.

Another thing that drew me in was that Adrien’s heart was damaged by rheumatic fever when he was a teenager, and that plays a very large part in the series.

 

The Holmes & Moriarity series was another good one, with All She Wrote (2010/2017) (8/10), In Other Words… Murder (2018) (8/10) being particularly good.

Christopher Holmes has always been a mystery writer, but his series has been dropped by his publisher. JX Moriarity is an ex-cop who became a mystery writer, who had a brief fling with Christopher right before he became published.

The series starts off with the two of them dealing with (essentially) a locked room mystery, and three other mysteries after that, as the two work out their differences and settle into their relationship.

 

There were also three stand-alone mysteries that I particularly liked.

Come Unto These Yellow SandsAll of Josh Lanyon’s characters are damaged in some way, but Sebastian Swift of Come Unto These Yellow Sands (2011) (8/10) was probably the most compelling.

Sebastian was a poet, but the largest part of his past was being an addict. He’s clean now, teaching at a college, and in a casual relationship with the town sheriff (it is a college town). But when one of Sebastian’s students is accused of murder, not only is there a strain between the two, but Sebastian begins to struggle more than he had in years since he’d gotten clean.

The mystery is interesting, but watching Sebastian slowly fall apart… that was hard. And very well done.

 

The Haunted Heart: Winter (2013)  (8/10) and Murder Takes the High Road (2018) (8/10) were also very good, and I’m hoping that there is eventually a sequel to The Haunted Heart.

 


 

The Mystery of the BonesC.S. Poe‘S Snow & Winter series was another favorite, and The Mystery of the Bones (2019) (8/10) was my favorite of the lot. Sebastian is a particularly interesting character, because he suffers from a specifically severe form of color blindness that makes him legally blind.

Sebastian owns an antique shop, and gets involved with a ridiculous number of murders, but as long as you’re ok with that over-the-top bit, it’s a lovely series, and I recommend reading it entirely, starting with The Mystery of Nevermore (2016).

 


 

Any Old DiamondsAny Old Diamonds (2019) (8/10) by K.J. Charles is an historical heist story.

There were a lot of unexpected elements here, and I very much liked all of them.

There are two additional stories in this series–a novella and a book which both recently came out, but I didn’t enjoy them anywhere near as much as the heist and surprises of Any Old Diamonds.

 

Proper English by KJ Charles (8/10) is the prequel to Think of England.

It’s a murder mystery, but that’s really secondary to the romance between Pat and Fen. There is also a good deal of brutal honesty about the place of women in society at this time, which is sometimes glossed over in historicals.

Pat did not corset. She had had no mother to train her waist to a span of eighteen inches or so; her father thought wasp-waists were for insects and preferred his daughter able to walk, climb trees, shoot, and run around the house.

Then after you read this, you can check out Think of England, which I keep dipping back into because I liked it so well.


The Books of 2019

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