Title ~ Stranger on the Shore
Author ~ Josh Lanyon
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Crime Thriller, Mystery
Published ~ 5th May 2014
Twenty years ago, little Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his family's Long Island estate and was never seen again. The trail went cold, but investigative journalist Griff Hadley has always thought there was more to the story--much more. When the Arlingtons' patriarch invites him to stay at their estate to research his true crime book, Griff can't say no. It's the story of a lifetime.
But not everyone is happy about Griff's presence. Relatives and staff alike regard him coldly, including Pierce Mather, the Arlingtons' attractive lawyer, who is more than a little wary of Griff's motives.
When a stranger shows up claiming to be the long-lost Brian, Griff and Pierce are united in their suspicions. Startled to have found an ally in the buttoned-up lawyer, Griff soon realizes it's hard to keep a professional distance. Even in the midst of a groundbreaking investigation, even in the face of a shocking family secret...
Okay all you Josh Lanyon fans out there time to get your Squee on because this was soooo good! And if you've never wandered into Josh's world before then get ready to Squee just for the hell of discovering it, because generally once you've been 'Josh'ed' you never look back....
If anyone can pull off m/m mystery with class, panache and style its Mr Lanyon. Every time I read one of his stories, especially the ones in this vein, I come away feeling like I've just read something timeless. Of all the authors I've read in the genre, his books are high amongst the ones I'd love to see transferred onto the big screen. Reading one of his mystery novels always transports me back to being curled up on the settee on a weekend, watching the old 30's/40's black and white films with my mum. Films like 'Rebecca' or 'The Little Foxes'. Golden oldies packed full of tense drama, mystery and dark family secrets.And that's exactly the feeling I got reading 'Stranger On The Shore'. Although this is set in present day, it still maintains that feeling of a vintage whodunit but never in a boring or stuffy way.
The Long Island Arlington's come from old money and are an extremely rich, but dysfunctional society family dealing with a tragedy, that under the facade of a normal family life, has really kept them emotionally detached from one and other since it occurred two decades ago. Like all these families, there's a cast of slightly eccentric unconventional characters including the elderly patriarch (Jarrett), the inconsequential alcoholic middle son (Marcus), the dour spinster older daughter (Muriel), the 'wild child' middle daughter (Michaela) and her biker, third husband, ex con (Ring Shelton) and the bratty, sharp tongued twenty something granddaughter (Chloe). . All vivid characters whose parts in the story not only give it a big dollop of intrigue but also add to its charm, alongside the detailed descriptions of the house and its surroundings, the taut atmosphere and the evocative characterisations of all the people involved.
Invited by Jarrett Arlington, the head of the Arlington Empire, Griffin Neptune Hadley is a young investigative journalist who comes to investigate the kidnapping of four year old Brian Arlington twenty years before, in hopes of writing a true crime style book...needless to say his arrival sets the cat amongst the pigeons, stirring up old memories and causing cracks within the family circle to open up more. The actual kidnap happened the night of a Midsummer Nights themed fancy dress party so the house was full of suspects, including all the staff and of course the family, making it look like a possible inside job but even though a ransom was paid Brian was never returned and his body never found. So the question is, is he dead or did he survive? Jarrett holds on to the hope that it's the latter, the rest of the family are convinced otherwise. Then ten years after the incident Matthew, Jarret's eldest son and heir and his wife Gemma, (Brian's parents) are killed in an accident. Hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery, Griff is confronted by a cast of characters, including Wilma Truscott, a surly 'Mrs Danvers' type housekeeper and Odell Johnson, the family chauffeur who was convicted of the kidnapping and is serving time in Sing Sing. All seem to have snippets of information about that night—but not all are willing to talk. As he starts to piece it all together, Griff comes to realise that perhaps the original investigation wasn't quite as thorough as it should have been, endorsing his thoughts that perhaps things are being covered up.
Pierce Mathers is a long standing family friend...a suspicious lawyer who Griff is drawn to against his will, there's no love lost between them as the story begins but over time they become closer and hints of attraction are present, but because of the circumstances there's a certain amount of distrust between them, so it's not easy to take that attraction they obviously feel for each other any further. Suspicious accidents and anonymous phone calls make Griff wary of all them, including Pierce! Then when Leiland Alvin turns up, claiming to be Brian it throws another spanner in the works and Griff is asked not to write the book, a notion that doesn't sit well with him, so they settle into an uneasy truce and join forces to see if they can unmask Leiland for the imposter they're both certain he is. At this point it looks like they're close to getting questions answered but oh no! ...there are more shocks on the horizon!
Those are only the bare bones of the story but I've got to say bravo to Josh on the intricacy of the mystery because it's extremely well plotted, keeping you wondering and wavering all the way through, subtly introducing the underlying romance which tantalises more than hitting you full on. All part of why this is such a classy little number. Well not so little really, because this is a decent length novel.
There's so much more going on than meets the eye, with lots of secondary characters thrown in to misdirect you. In true red herring style, just when you think you've got it sussed, the plot twists and turns and you're back to square one! Lots of clues are slipped in, some seemingly obvious but others subtle and teasing. Very clever stuff. I loved it!
Griff himself is a pretty complex character, with his own family baggage and repercussions arising from it in the form of anxiety attacks and night terrors, so that adds an extra element to the story. In the short time that he's given access to their family history, he finds himself becoming more enmeshed in this conflicted family's past than he thought possible and the more he digs the deeper involved he becomes.
I would have to say that this is lead more by plot than by sex but don't let that sway you because the love scenes are still delicious and sensual when they arrive. If you've read Josh before you'll know what I mean. The romance is always there but it blends into the main storyline, rather than overtaking it. I guess you'd call the romance a slow burn but you still get that tummy tingling sense of anticipation whenever the love interests are together on page. When the sex happens it's hot but never gratuitous. Put that together with a damn good story and it really is a treat to read. So if this was made into a film I'd be there with my drink and my popcorn, all cosy and engrossed... the fact it would be M/M, even more of a reason I'd be on cloud nine! But saying that there's still nothing better than curling up with a good book that draws you in and gets your own imagination engaged. Stranger On The Shore kept me totally involved to the point where I didn't want to put it down and I finished it feeling satisfied and fulfilled. Oh and the ending is just gorgeous… I did big sighs at that!
If you're wondering where the title comes from, it's a popular tune from the sixties by a clarinettist called Acker Bilk and it plays an important part in the story. I remember it well, so I spent most of the book humming it in my head...like having my own soundtrack! Lol.
Love is a Mystery - Josh Lanyon
I’m always surprised when readers say they don’t like mysteries. I’m not sure if it’s the puzzle aspect that turns them off, the threat of violence…or something else. But for me, there’s nothing like a little mystery to add spice to romance.
After all, can there be a greater mystery than that of what draws one human to another? There’s no more intense relationship exercise than having to depend on someone you’re not sure you completely trust. And danger? Well, danger ups the sexual tension in any situation.
When I begin writing a mystery -- and Stranger on the Shore was no different -- I begin with a man on an all-consuming quest. And then I throw a lot of obstacles in his way, and one of those obstacles is always going to be another man. A man who is as attractive as he is obstructive. Then I force them to work together. And through the course of working together they gain understanding and eventually respect for each other. And they usually share a few good laughs and some very sexy moments. And if there is a better basis for lasting love than understanding, respect, and a shared sense of humor I sure don’t know what it is.
Are you one of those readers who likes mystery -- or at least romantic suspense -- with your romance?
About Josh Lanyon
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon has been writing gay mystery and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Gay Mystery. Josh is also the author of the definitive M/M writing guide Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h.But, really...do you care? Probably not. More to the point, Josh writes gay or M/M romance -- usually within the context of a mystery / romantic-suspense or action - adventure. Lanyon's particular brand of erotic romance features sexy cops and smartass writers, tough Navy SEALs and sensitive artists, hard as nail special agents and...other hard as nails special agents. Josh is an EPPIE Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his Significant Other. You can find out more at the Just Joshin blog on Livejournal/Blogspot or through Josh's mailing list.
You can also find Josh at
Josh Lanyon will be gifting one very lucky reader an eBook of Stranger on the Shore, all you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.