The Adrian English mysteries are now being republished by the author with elegant new cover art, and this book is where the series takes off like a rocket for me. Whereas the first book had a shaky ending and the second book stranded interesting characters in a ho-hum setting, this third book is very strong. Bookshop owner Adrian and troubled LAPD detective Jake are back in Los Angeles, definitely my favorite weird city on earth.
We readers are treated to bookshop interactions, satirical scenes of Adrian’s writing critique group, and even moments of awkward Christmas cheer involving the colorful new family into which Adrian’s mother is soon to marry. Adrian develops a sense of humor in this book, and gives us many funny one-liners. His relationship with Jake is hit hard with real-life complications offering no easy solutions, and they remain a compelling couple. Meanwhile, the plot involves Wicca and Satanism, both of which are scrupulously researched.
The book opens with Adrian’s creepy bookseller Angus receiving death threats. For some mysterious reason, the kid’s Satanist friends have now turned against him. On impulse, Adrian gives the boy money with which to skip town – later realizing that if Angus commits a crime, Adrian might be seen as an accessory. Then the murders start happening. The death threats widen to include Adrian. And the mystery of why the Satanists are after Angus connects directly with an open investigation headed by Jake, who deeply resents Adrian’s involvement. It all makes for a great page-turner.