Fatal Shadows

The Adrien English Mysteries Book 1

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Pub Date 31 Dec 1999 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2020

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Celebrating 20 Years in Print!

Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English finds himself the prime suspect when his employee—an old high school buddy (and more)—is found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and public argument the previous evening. 

Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien's shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.

Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer's list.

Celebrating 20 Years in Print!

Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English finds himself the prime suspect when his employee—an old high school buddy (and more)—is found...

A Note From the Publisher

Fatal Shadows has (officially) been translated into Spanish, Dutch, Italian, German, French, Japanese and Chinese. It was the first (and only) title by a Western author to place (#5) in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list. The Adrien English series was awarded the All Time Favorite Couple by the Goodreads M/M Romance Group. And in 2019, Fatal Shadows became the first LGBTQ mobile game created by Moments: Choose Your Story.

Fatal Shadows has (officially) been translated into Spanish, Dutch, Italian, German, French, Japanese and Chinese. It was the first (and only) title by a Western author to place (#5) in Japan’s...

Marketing Plan

2020 celebrates the 20th year of publication for the Adrien English series. A special collector's hardcover edition with foreword, afterward, and artwork will be available in December 2020. 

2020 celebrates the 20th year of publication for the Adrien English series. A special collector's hardcover edition with foreword, afterward, and artwork will be available in December 2020. 

Available Editions

ISBN 9781937909079
PRICE $2.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

I fell in love with the writing of this book. The characters are so real, warts and all. Adrien is so imperfect, without any really annoying traits, he's perfect in his imperfection. I really wanted to hit Detective Riordan over the head a few times for his behavior but I think it is also realistic, especially for 20 years or so ago.

The mystery is solid, though I guessed who the culprit was before the end of the book. There was more action that I expected but it works. I can already tell that I will reread and reread this series often. After I finished this I immediately went on to read the next. Highly recommend!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a free copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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So Adrien (with an E, it’s very important to him) English is a book store owner in California who’s minding his own business one day when he wakes up to find his good friend murdered. Because they had had a minor fight the night before, he becomes the prime suspect in the murder. So that’s not chill. What’s even more not chill is that it brings him into contact with the gruff, steely, low-key homophobic, but also not (but also yes with a large dabbling of character growth throughout the series) police detective Jake Riordan, who’s every person’s dream boat. But if that sounds like Insta-love, HOLD IT– it’s definitely not. Adrien and Jake proceed very interestingly throughout the first book, and then beyond to the other books in the series. And their relationship is full of very high high where they remain one of my all time TOP OTPS, but also some low lows.

Speaking of the other series, poor Adrien can’t seem to get a break and keeps stumbling into weird murder drama plots among other things. And no one is more displeased about it than Adrien. Oh the SASS on Adrien. And Jake’s “are you fucking kidding me this again how can one person get into this much trouble” attitude together is HYSTERICAL. Throw into the mix Adrien’s wealthy, dramatic socialite mother, Lisa, and his grumpy Goth assistant bookkeeper, Angus, and the cast of supporting characters is hysterical.

But we read this series for the romance and for the mysteries, each one which is excellently done. Jake and Adrien go through so much shit, but they love each other so fiercely. And the murder plots– the first book isn’t so hard to guess what happens, but the others get so much tougher. They have some twisty turns.

I so so so recommend this series to anyone.

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Like the first time I read it, this book is still one of my favorites.

Adrien with an 'e' is a well-developed character throughout the book, he becomes a suspect after the murder of a friend, detective Riordian enters, and we don't know much more than he will be someone very important in Adrien's life.

I like it as though there is not much romance, they do give us a little glimpse of what it will be. And the mystery that happens is enveloping, because just like Adrien you start looking for clues eager to discover what happened

Josh Lanyon is my favorite author for MM Mystery. And like other of her books, this is not a disappointment, I have read it more than 10 times already.

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After reading Secret at Skull House and absolutely loving it, I've been wanting to get into Josh Lanyon's other books as well. So when I saw Fatal Shadows on NetGalley I had to request it. Turns out the series is on Kindle Unlimited, so now I get to binge it all!

Fatal shadows does have some similarities with Murder at Pirate's Cove; bookstore owner, suspect in a murder he didn't commit, romantic angst with the detective. However, this not being a cozy mystery is completely different.

I'm not sure when the story is set, but being written in 2000 I asume it's set a bit before that. The homophobia here plays a big part. It's oppressive in the sense that it's always there looming, with both subtle and blatant homophobia.

The romance is only hinted at, at the end so I'm excited to see how it developes.

Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This is the first book in the Adrien English mystery series. I really enjoyed this book; the characters are interesting and the mystery aspect was great. This is a book that I really didn’t suspect who done it until it was revealed by the author, which to me makes it a great mystery. The pace was wonderful. This was a great book.

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Okay, so Fatal Shadows has it all, honestly! Gay romance, murder, and a hunt for a serial killer! The best part is that we the reader are right there front and center for it all.

Adrien is just your semi-average writer and bookstore owner. But when his friend/employee turns up murdered, he finds himself being held as suspect number one. Honestly, the police are not much help with clearing his name either.

Then comes in Detective Riordan. My oh my, what a man of mystery! We do not get to see a lot of his character, but I want more! The man has secrets and I want to discover them all. But the last few pages of the book really drove it home. I have to find out more about Detective Riordan.

The plot follows the Adrien trying to figure out who killed Robert and uncovering something he had not bargained for. Meanwhile, he has two cops trying to pin the murder on him. Then mysteriously another one of Adrien’s friends gets murdered.

Then things get even more twisted with something from the past. High school, ahh the years that shape everyone. Sometimes it is for the good and other times for the bad, the very bad. But why did it take so long for the revenge to start?

Everything was finally answered in the last two chapters of Fatal Shadows. While things were tied up with the case, new questions were asked in the final few lines of the book. All of this makes for a really good read.

I was able to read through the book in about a day, I had to know what was going to happen next. There was always something else about to happen, just around the corner in the next chapter. Fatal Shadows is a great first book in The Adrien English Mysteries series.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

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Fatal Shadows is a breathtaking introduction to the world of the Adrien English Mysteries. Adrien, a sarcastic bookseller with a heart condition finds himself embroiled in the investigation into his friend's murder. Closeted cop Jake Riordan suspects Adrien's involved, or hiding something, and he's determined to prove it despite (or perhaps because) of the sparks flying between them. Adrien knows Riordan is bad news, but damn if he isn't intrigued anyway. Experience the mystery unfolding alongside a dangerous attraction that will change them both.

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Having first read "Fatal Shadows" in 2015, I enjoyed the opportunity to reread this from the viewpoint of having read at this point a substantial amount of books by Josh Lanyon. I was struck by just how well Lanyon constructs this novel and slowly introduces us to the main characters - bookseller Adrien English and cop Jake Riordan. Her descriptions are so perfect; as Adrien ponders about Jake - :"He looked like a guy who expected the worst in people and was rarely disappointed." Another character, Claude, "wore a white raincoat, looking as sauve as Shaft at a New Orleans funeral."

I also loved the way Lanyon sets out the murder / mystery and then leisurely unfolds all the elements without making the novel bog down in too much unnecessary detail. Everything feels relevant and fits into the larger mystery.

And the wary circling of Jake and Adrien is mesmerizing. Jake is (in the words of the Sarah McLachlan song) a "beautiful fucked up man" who has relationships with men like his father and brothers. He has "sex with queers" and believes a healthy satisfying homosexual relationship is a "contradiction in terms." He is "mad, bad and dangerous to know" as Lady Caroline Lamb famously said about Lord Byron, a man who knew a thing or two about dangerous sexual proclivities.

I highly recommend "Fatal Shadows" as well as the entire Adrien English series. 5 stars.

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When I first read this, maybe 4 years ago??, I wasn’t that impressed. Mysteries are my favorite but there was something about Lanyon’s storytelling that I had to warm up to. I continued with the series and over the course of reading I became a huge fan of these books and Josh Lanyon.

This series has made me feel a myriad of emotions. I love Adrien’s snark and his bravado. I also want to smack him for being a doormat and making bad decisions that almost get him killed time and time again. I still have mixed emotions about Jake. No matter how many times I read or listen to this series I get so angry at Jake. But that goes into future books and this is only the first one.

For me this book is just the kind of mystery/murder book I love. It’s a classic whodunit that Lanyon puts her own spin on. Adrien is pulled into a murder case and finds he’s quite intuitive enough to look into the murder himself. He also doesn’t want to be arrested for something he didn’t do so he starts off doing his own sleuthing to protect himself. He has a way of pissing off the cops right from the start. There is no romance in this book but we see into Adrien’s mostly solitary life. I always feel a bit sorry for Adrien because he seems so alone, so lonely.

This is the beginning of my favorite mystery series. I’m still enamored by Adrien and will probably always love the twisted story of him and Jake. The new covers are gorgeous and add even more to the book. This is a timeless series that I know I will be reading or listening to again and again!

If you’ve read this book I recommend you give the audiobook a try. It’s really wonderful. It’s not perfect, there are some weird pauses, but the performance enhances everything about the story!

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I hopelessly devoured "Fatal Shadows" in less than 24 hours.
I absolutely adored it. The writing was fast-paced and witty and kind of raw at times, but it didn't bother me. I loved Adrien very much, he's hilarious and outspoken and I desperately wanted him to be happy and safe. I did get annoyed with him when he was acting impulsive (especially by the end) but I should have expected that: he really is the quitessential amateur slueth and being irrisponsible about one's health and safety is part of that. Detective Jake Riordan didn't appear much in this one: you get a few hints and a fair amout of chemestry with Adrien though and an instance of "Baby" that definitely stopped my heart for a bit. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the next books of this series.

You can guess who the bad guy is before you reach the ending but again, it didn't bother me since it added to the mounting tension of the last chapters. And those last chapters... they destroyed my heart a little and now I really really want Adrien to be happy and safe.
Absolutely recommended. "Fatal Shadows" feels like a classic of the genre.

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I love Josh Lanyon's books and read a lot of positive reviews about this series.
I can confirm it's excellent and highly entertaining, this story kept me hooked and the solution came as a surprise.
Excellent storytelling and character development, a solid mystery that kept me hooked.
I loved it so much that I got other books as I'm curious about Adrian's future.
A gripping and enjoyable read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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I really enjoyed Fatal Shadows. Both Adrien and Detective Riordan were unique, complicated characters, and those are my favorite kind. The mystery was also interesting and kept my attention, which can be difficult given how many mysteries I have read. Overall, I thought it was a solid start to the series and I look forward to reading the other books.

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I’ve heard good things about Josh Lanyon’s work and saw this on NetGalley, so jumped at the chance to try it out! The plan was to read this book, then write the review and read the next books in the series if I liked it well enough, but after finishing this one I immediately needed to dive into the next one, and then the next one, etc. Safe to say I enjoyed the hell out of it!

The writing in this series (and this book in particular) is so atmospheric. Usually I can visualize the settings in well-written books fairly easily, but there’s something really special about the way Josh Lanyon describes them. The late 90s Los Angeles setting in this book is incredibly vibrant, and not only could I easily see every little detail, I also could hear, smell, feel, taste everything.

Adrien is a fantastic main character. I have a special place in my heart for snarky characters who cannot find it within themselves to shut up or walk away when they really need to, and he gets bonus points for running a bookstore. I also really enjoyed many of the supporting characters, including his mother (whose voice will always sound like Moira Rose to me, despite the fact that she’s English). I am not a fan of Jake, but I do think his dynamic with Adrien is very interesting.

I did figure out who the murderer was quite a bit earlier than I would have normally liked, but the way it played out was interesting and tense enough that it didn’t end up bothering me too much.

Definitely search the reviews for content warnings if you think you might need them - there are several that apply.

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