These mysteries are actually called Fatal Shadows and A Dangerous Thing (Kindle ebook $5.99). Adrien English, the hero of both, owns a bookstore in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles, and he lives in South Pasadena. A handsome gay man in his early thirties, Adrien is trying to put his life together after breaking up with a long-time boyfriend. With money from inheritance, he runs a mystery bookstore, and when he isn’t solving murder cases, he is opening trunks of books and figuring where to shelve them.
In Fatal Shadows Adrien finds that friends are dying suspiciously in various parts of the country, and he traces them all back to a Chess Club in high school. Jake, the hyper-masculine policeman who is handling one of the local murders, thinks Adrien is imagining things. And when Adrien starts getting threatening messages of various kinds, Jake dismisses them out of hand.
The murders get closer and closer to Adrien, and he almost plays with the prospect of his own death, but in the end, Jake saves the day, and Adrien lives to confront another mystery.
In A Dangerous Thing, Jake and Adrien are now dating. It had become apparent in the earlier novel that Jake could amuse himself with men at times, and Adrien is trying to stop himself from falling too seriously for this bisexual cop.
In order to get away for a while, Adrien goes up to a ranch in Sonora that he inherited from his grandmother. There are all sorts of odd traditions about the place and its being haunted, but Adrien thinks this will be a good place to relax and work on the novel he has been planning.
No sooner does he arrive, however, than he stumbles over a dead body in front of the house; and from that moment, he is himself under suspicion—the body disappears before the police arrive the next morning. And he wonders whether he hasn’t stepped into a hornet’s nest.
Jake sweeps up from LA to help Adrien deal with the local cops, and he hangs around long enough to begin to express his feelings for Adrien and to show that he is involved with him as something more than a sexual experiment. In fact, he is falling in love.
Lanyon does a good job with local characters in both novels. In the first there are bookstore types and gay friends of various descriptions; and in the later one there is a whole cast of local characters, including Native Americans who believe in the aged spirit of the place.
Lanyon portrays his gay characters in tasteful scenes of gay lovemaking. There is always enough to remind you that you are reading a gay novel, but never so much that you feel the sex is out of proportion with the character or action.
Lanyon may be more entertaining in some of his later and more complex novels. But these Adrien English stories have a certain charm of their own.
Adrien English Mysteries 1 & 2 for Kindle are available at Amazon.