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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Lanyon, Josh: The Hell You Say

  Amazon  

5 stars

The Hell You Say is Josh Lanyon's third Adrien English mystery, and unfortunately the first I've read: I'll be happy to catch up on the first books in the series (A Dangerous Thing and Fatal Shadows) if they're as good as this one. Adrien, in his early 30s, is the proprietor of Cloak and Dagger Books, which as its name suggests specializes in mysteries. Adrien writes mysteries himself that are published by a "lunatic fringe publishing house": his protagonist is a gay Shakespearian actor turned amateur sleuth. Adrien is gay himself, with a very closeted detective boyfriend, and like any good amateur sleuth he tends to fall into real-life mysteries more often than most. He also has trouble keeping employees: in an earlier outing Adrien's clerk was killed. This time around the dead clerk's replacement, Angus, is being harassed by Satanists. Over his boyfriend's objections, Adrien gets involved with the LA occult scene while trying to sniff out who's behind Angus's persecution and a handful of recent murders that just may be related.

Lanyon's book is simply a great cozy. Adrien is a complex and likable character who's plagued by an unsatisfactory relationship and by familial entanglements wrought by his mother's recent decision to remarry. The writing is clever:

"I followed her through the immaculate and beautifully decorated foyer into an immaculate and beautifully decorated living room through an immaculate and beautifully decorated dining room into a less immaculate but still beautifully decorated family room, which adjoined a kitchen that was full of girls. It sounded like an aviary. Or possibly a hen house.

"Actually it was only Lauren and Natalie.

"'Hi, Adrien!' they chorused.

"Did they all live here?

"'Hey there,' I said. I could not for the life of me figure out why they were all beaming at me with the delight of Aztec priests at the arrival of a well-nourished youth. What did they imagine this bonding ritual entailed?"

But the cleverness doesn't get out of hand. That is, it's never too much (a là Jasper Fforde's over-clever books). The mystery holds together perfectly. In short, there isn't a false note in the book.

Surprisingly, The Hell You Say was initially self-published via iUniverse (this is the copy I have; it's possible that the text has been revised since for re-publication), but I'm happy to say that all the books in the series have been picked up by MLR Press, a publisher of gay fiction and erotic romance with (according to the publisher's web site) a "high level of sensuality and raw passion." Hopefully the book won't be pigeon-holed as gay lit and thus lose out on attracting a larger audience. There's nothing particularly erotic in the book, certainly no raw passion. It's simply a very well written cozy whose protagonist happens to be gay, with a sex life not much juicier than Jessica Fletcher's.

A fourth Adrien English mystery, Death of a Pirate King, is due out in September of 2008.

Comments

1.

I wouldn't glance twice at a book like this until I read your review. It sound amazing...and actually a little bit funny.

2.

Thanks, Diana! I hope you like it if you read it. I wouldn't want to have steered you wrong. It *was* funny in parts, very well written.

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