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REVIEW: Secret At Skull House by Josh Lanyon

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Secrets and Scrabble: Secret At Skull House – Josh Lanyon

Ellery Page is back–and in hot water again!

Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.

***This story contains no on-screen sex or violence


Once again, Ellery Page is the prime suspect for murder. The victim was his very, very unlikable ex, Brandon Abbott. I’m sure no tears were shed for this guy who always threw shade at Ellery every chance he got.

You couldn’t help but love Ellery. Any other person would have sold the failing bookstore, packed his bags and hightailed it out of that murder island. Not Ellery. He was very determined to stick it out and make it work.

He has a tendency to not so much as work his way into things but more of stumble his way into them. Like how his play became an unexpected comedic success when it was actually written as a serious story. Or suddenly realizing his scrabble pieces were pointing him in oddly case-specific directions.

Jack Carson, the police chief, hinted here and there that there might be romantic interest in his Person Of Interest. He even outright asked him for a date. For which I’m giving a halle-fucking-luya about time! because the hot/cold treatment is killing Ellery and the rest of us poor readers here.

I know I said before I would be okay if him and Jack will just be friends. Let me add a caveat that this is as long as the author don’t string us along in the future books.

However, if these two keep on giving off those uber-tight USTs, which, for a book without anything explicit, Josh Lanyon managed to make quite palpable, I would riot if they don’t end up together.

And that ending! Put us out of our misery please!

Okay, so the mystery. I didn’t care about who killed Brandon Abbott. Like I said, the guy was an asshole. What kept me going was, first, the engaging storytelling coupled with great narration. The author always had a way of keeping me glued to the book. This is especially important because she always puts a lot of problematic characters. That’s why her books are a hit or miss for me. Mostly hit so far.

Second, I enjoyed how she made Buck Island come to life. Ellery is surrounded by characters. As in “s/he is such a character!“. I think this is one of the perks of reading cozies, you get the quirky and the cutesy.

Many of these people were native to Buck Island, The island transplants were forever seen as outsiders. Ellery is somewhere in between. His family has been in Buck Island since the beginning but he was from New York. This created an interesting dynamic between him and the rest of the islanders.

Buck Island was built by pirates. There were some historical mansions own by the original founding families scattered throughout. One of these houses was own by the Page family. Skull House was also one of these historical structures and was the site of a murder and mysterious disappearance 20 years ago.

I really liked how the local folklore and history were interwoven with the mystery. There were parallels between the past and present and true to form, Ellery stumbles into the one person connecting them all.

But you know, if you think about it, for an island this small, there seemed to be too many murderers lurking about. Do cozies, or mysteries for that matter, always have to be about a murder? Could they just be about pirate treasures instead?

At this point in time, Ellery should permanently change his FB / Twitter status to “I didn’t do it.”

P.S.

Find out how Ellery fared as a first-time murder suspect in Secrets and Scrabble book 1, Murder At Pirate’s Cove. Review here.

Read reviews of Josh Lanyon’s hits and and misses here.

Rating:
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

Soundtrack: I Didn’t Do It
Artist: Larry Warren
Album: I Don’t Want To Sleep Because I’m In Wonderful Colorado!

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