Death of a Pirate King
Series: The Adrien English Mysteries , Book 4
By: Josh Lanyon | Other books by Josh Lanyon
Published By: Just Joshin
Published: Nov 11, 2011
ISBN # 9780984766901
By: Josh Lanyon | Other books by Josh Lanyon
Published By: Just Joshin
Published: Nov 11, 2011
ISBN # 9780984766901
Word Count: 73,093
Available in: Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat
DescriptionGay bookseller and reluctant amateur sleuth Adrien English's writing career is suddenly taking off. His first novel, Murder Will Out, has been optioned by notorious Hollywood actor Paul Kane.
But when murder makes an appearance at a dinner party, who should be called in but Adrien's former lover, handsome closeted detective Jake Riordan, now a Lieutenant with LAPD -- which may just drive Adrien's new boyfriend, sexy UCLA professor Guy Snowden, to commit a murder of his own.
Reader Rating: (47 Ratings)
Excerpt:By the time the paramedics arrived, it was all over.
We had adjourned by then to the drawing room of the old Laurel Canyon mansion. There were about thirty of us, everyone, with the exception of me, involved one way or the other with movies and moviemaking.
I looked at the ormolu clock on the elegant fireplace mantel and thought I should call Natalie. She had a date that evening and had wanted to close the bookstore early. I needed to give Guy a call too. No way was I going to have the energy for dinner out tonight -- even if we did get away in the next hour or so.
Porter’s wife, who looked young enough to be his daughter, was sitting over by the piano, crying. A couple of the other women were absently soothing her. I wondered why she wasn’t being allowed in there with him. If I was dying I’d sure want someone I loved with me.
Paul Kane had disappeared for a time into the dining room where the paramedics were still doing whatever there was left to do.
He came back in and said, “They’ve called the police.”
There were exclamations of alarm and dismay.
Okay, so it wasn’t a natural death. I’d been afraid of that. Not because of any special training or because I had a particular knack for recognizing foul play -- no, I just had really, really bad luck.
Porter’s wife -- Ally, they were calling her -- looked up and said, “He’s dead?” I thought it was pretty clear he was a goner from the moment he landed flat on his back like a harpooned walrus, but maybe she was the optimistic kind. Or maybe I’d just had too much of the wrong kind of experience.
The women with her began doing that automatic shushing thing again.
Kane walked over to me, and said with that charming, practiced smile, “How are you holding up?”
His smile informed me that I wasn’t fooling anyone, but actually I felt all right. After nearly a week of hospital, any change of scenery was an improvement, and, unlike most of the people there, I knew what to expect once someone died a public and unexpected death.
Kane sat down on a giant chintz-covered ottoman -- the room had clearly been professionally decorated because nothing about Paul Kane suggested cabbage roses or ormolu clocks -- fastened those amazing blue eyes on me, and said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Well, yeah,” I said. Violent death in the dining room? Generally not a good thing.
“Did Porter say anything to you? I couldn’t help noticing that he had you pinned down.”
“He mostly talked about saltwater big game fishing.”
“Ah. His passion.”
“Passion is good,” I said.
Kane smiled into my eyes. “It can be.”
I smiled back tiredly. I didn’t imagine that he was coming on to me; it was more…an actor picking up his cue.
He patted my knee and rose. “It shouldn’t take much longer,” he said with the optimism of inexperience.
They kept us waiting for probably another forty minutes, and then the doors to the drawing room opened silently on well-oiled hinges, and two cops in suits walked in. One was about thirty, Hispanic, with the tightly coiled energy of the ambitious young dick, and the other was Jake Riordan.
It was a jolt. Jake was a lieutenant now, so I didn’t see why he’d be here at a crime scene -- except that this was a high-profile crime scene.
As I stared it was like seeing him for the first time -- only this time around I had insider knowledge.
He looked older. Still ruggedly good-looking in that big, blond, take-no-prisoners way. But thinner, sharper around the edges. Harder. It had been two years since I’d last seen him. They didn’t appear to have been a blissful two years, but he still had that indefinable something. Like a young Steve McQueen or a mature Russell Crowe.
Hanging around the movie crowd, you start thinking in cinema terms.
I watched his tawny eyes sweep the room and find Paul Kane. I saw the relief on Kane’s face, and I realized that they knew each other: something in the way their gazes met, linked, then broke -- not anything anyone else would have caught. I just happened to be in a position to know what that particular look of Jake’s meant.
And since I was familiar with the former Detective Riordan’s extracurricular activities, I guessed that meant the rumors about Paul Kane were true.
“Folks, can I have your attention?” the younger detective said. “This is Lieutenant Riordan and I’m Detective Alonzo.” He proceeded to explain that while the exact cause of Porter Jones’s death was as yet undetermined, they were going to ask us a few questions, starting with whoever had been seated next to the victim during the meal.
Paul Kane said, “That would be Valarie and Adrien.”
Jake’s gaze followed Paul Kane’s indication. His eyes lit on me. Just for a second his face seemed to freeze. I was glad I’d had a few seconds’ warning. I was able to look right through him, which was a small satisfaction.
“I don’t understand,” the newly widowed Ally was protesting. “Are you saying…what are you saying? That Porter was murdered?”
“Ma’am,” Detective Alonzo said in a pained way.
Jake said something quietly to Paul Kane, who answered. Jake interrupted Alonzo.
“Mrs. Jones, why don’t we move next door?” He guided her toward a side door off the lounge. He nodded for Alonzo to follow him in.
Despite Detective Alonzo’s “undetermined causes” it seemed pretty clear to me that if the police were interrogating us they had pretty much ruled out accidental or natural death.
A uniformed officer took Alonzo’s place and asked us to please be patient and refrain from speaking with each other -- and immediately everyone started speaking, mostly protesting.
After a few minutes of this, the side door opened again and everyone looked guiltily toward the doorway. Ally Porter was ushered straight out.
“The performance of a lifetime,” Al January commented next to me.
I glanced at him, and he smiled.
“Valarie Rose,” Detective Alonzo requested.
A trim forty-something brunette stood up. Rose was supposed to direct Murder Will Out, assuming we actually got to the filming stage -- which at the moment felt unlikely. She wore minimal makeup and a dark pantsuit. She looked perfectly poised as she passed Detective Alonzo and disappeared into the inner chamber.
She was in there for about fifteen minutes and then the door opened; without speaking to anyone, she crossed into the main room. Detective Alonzo announced, “Adrien English?”
Kind of like when your name gets called in the doctor’s office: That’s right, Adrien. This won’t hurt a bit. I felt the silent wall of eyes as I went into the side room.
It was a comfortable room, probably Paul Kane’s study. He seemed like the kind of guy who would affect a study. Glass-fronted bookcases, a big fireplace, and a lot of leather furniture. There was a table and chairs to one side where they were conducting their questioning. Jake stood at a large bay window that looked down over the back garden. I spared one look at his stony profile before sitting down at the table across from Detective Alonzo.
“Okay…” Alonzo scratched a preliminary note on a pad.
Jake turned. “That’s Adrien with an e,” he informed his junior. His eyes met mine. “Mr. English and I are previously acquainted.”
That was one way to put it. I had a sudden, uncomfortably vivid memory of Jake whispering into my hair, “Baby, what you do to me…” An ill-timed recollection if there ever was one.
“Yeah?” If Alonzo recognized there was any tension in the air, he gave no sign of it, probably because there’s always tension in the air around cops. “So where do you live, Mr. English?”
We got the details of where I lived and what I did for a living out of the way fast. Then Alonzo asked, “So how well did you know Mr. Jones?”
“I met him for the first time this afternoon.”
“Ms. Beaton-Jones says you and the deceased had a long, long talk during the meal?”
Beaton-Jones? Oh, right. This was Hollywood. Hyphens were a fashion accessory. Ms. Beaton-Jones would be Porter’s wife, I surmised.
I replied, “He talked, I listened.” One thing I’ve learned the hard way is not to volunteer any extra information to the police.
I glanced at Jake. He was staring back out the window. There was a gold wedding band on his left hand. It kept catching the light. Like a sunspot.
“What did he talk about?”
“To be honest, I don’t remember the details. It was mostly about deep-sea fishing. For marlin. On his forty-five-foot Hatteras luxury sport-fishing yacht.”
Jake’s lips twitched as he continued to gaze out the window.
“You’re interested in deep-sea fishing, Mr. English?”
“So how long did you talk?”
“Maybe ten minutes.”
“Can you tell us what happened then?”
“I turned away to take a drink. He -- Porter -- just…fell forward onto the table.”
“And what did you do?”
“When I realized he wasn’t moving, I grabbed his shoulder. He slid out of his chair and landed on the floor. Al January started CPR.”
“Do you know CPR, sir?”
“Ms. Beaton-Jones said you refused to administer CPR to her husband.”
I blinked at him. Looked at Jake. His tawny eyes were zeroed in on mine.
“Any reason for that, sir? Are you HIV-positive by any chance?”
“No.” I was a little surprised at how angry I was at the question. I said shortly, “I’m getting over pneumonia. I didn’t think I could do an adequate job of resuscitating him. If no one else had volunteered, I’d have tried.”
“Pneumonia? That’s no fun.” This also from the firm’s junior partner. “Were you hospitalized by any chance?”
“Yeah. Five fun-filled days and nights at Huntington Hospital. I’ll be happy to give you the name and number of my doctor.”
“When were you discharged?”
“And you’re already back doing the party scene?” That was Jake with pseudofriendly mockery. “How do you know Paul Kane?”
“We met once before today. He’s optioned my first book for a possible film. He thought it would be a good idea for me to meet the director and screenwriter, and he suggested this party.”
“So you’re a writer?” Detective Alonzo inquired. He checked his notes as though to emphasize that I’d failed to mention this vital point.
“Among other things,” remarked Jake.
I thought maybe he ought to curb it if he didn’t want speculation about our former friendship. But maybe marriage and a lieutenancy made him feel bulletproof. He didn’t interrupt as Detective Alonzo continued to probe.
I answered his questions, but I was thinking of the first time I’d met Paul Kane. Living in Southern California, you get used to seeing “movie stars.” Speaking from experience they are usually shorter, thinner, more freckled, and more blemished than they appear on the screen. And in real life their hair is almost never as good. Paul Kane was the exception. He was gorgeous in an old-fashioned matinee idol way. An Errol Flynn way. Tall, built like something chiseled out of marble, midnight blue eyes, sun-streaked brown hair. Almost too handsome, really. I prefer them a little rougher around the edges. Like Jake.
“Hey, pretty exciting!” Alonzo offered, just as though it wasn’t Hollywood where everyone is writing a script on spec or has a book being optioned. “So what’s your book about?”
A little dryly I explained what my book was about.
Alonzo raised his eyebrows at the idea of a gay Shakespearean actor and amateur sleuth making it to the big screen, but kept scribbling away.
Jake came over to the table and sat down across from me. My neck muscles clenched so tight I was afraid my head would start to shake.
“But you also run this Cloak and Dagger mystery bookstore in Pasadena?” Alonzo inquired. “Was Porter Jones a customer?”
“Not that I know of. As far as I’m aware, I never saw him before today.” I made myself look at Jake. He was staring down. I looked to see if my body language was communicating homicidal mania. In the light flooding from the bay window my hands looked thin and white, a tracery of blue veins right beneath the surface.
I folded my arms and leaned back in my chair, trying to look nonchalant rather than defensive.
We’d been talking for thirty minutes, which seemed like an unreasonable time to question someone who hadn’t even known the victim. They couldn’t honestly think I was a suspect. Jake couldn’t honestly think I’d bumped this guy off. I glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner. Five o’clock.
Alonzo circled back to the general background stuff that is mostly irrelevant but sometimes turns up an unexpected lead.
To his surprise and my relief, Jake said abruptly, “I think that’s about it. Thanks for your time, Mr. English. We’ll be in touch if we need anything further.”
I opened my mouth to say something automatic and polite -- but what came out was a laugh. Short and sardonic. It caught us both by surprise.
Reader Reviews (7)
Submitted By: rbnibz on Jan 27, 2013I'm not sure why I had this book in my library. Its not really my type of book. But I read it anyway and hoped for the best. It wasnt bad, I just didn't find it interesting.
Submitted By: smaccall on Jan 8, 20134 stars - another excellent addition to this series! They just keep getting better and I love the dynamic between Jake and Adrien.
Submitted By: cgirl99 on Jan 7, 2013This was a free read for me. I did not read the previous books and would recommend that you read the series in order. s well, have not read a lot of M/M books. Found the 'who dunit' storyline well done. Was rooting for Adrian and Jake to get together throughout.
Submitted By: kammrm68 on Jan 7, 2013I got the book as a free read and I could not wait to purchase the rest in the series. This book had a great mystery plot, with the main character always in the middle, the closet case love interest, and the really nice guy but... I loved it.
Submitted By: vallyboo on Jan 4, 2013Book 4 of the Adrien English Mysteries. What can I say? I absolutely love this series – it’s one of my all time favorites and a must-read for every mm-fan.
Submitted By: jraecat09 on Jan 3, 2013This is part of the Adrian English series. A series everyone should have on hand. Josh Lanyon is a fabulous writer and the suspense for the series is wonderful.
Submitted By: trewdsa on Dec 20, 2011Very well written novel. Funny, endearing. A great read.