Tuesday 10 May 2011

The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks - Josh Lanyon

Twenty-something artist Perry Foster returns home early from weekend in San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. But by the time Perry has got help, the body has gone. Something mysterious is going on at the isolated Alton Estate, and Perry and his fellow housemate 'tall, dark and hostile' former navy SEAL Nick Reno get pulled into investigating the disappearing/reappearing bodies.

After finishing The Dark Tide I found I was still in the mood to read Josh Lanyon. Maybe I was going into Adrien English withdrawal. Anyway I had this particular book on my TBR shelf and I think it was a good one to read after completing the Adrien English books. And this one comes with one of my favourite tropes - a brainy beta paired with an alpha tough guy. It's written in third person with alternating points of view between Nick and Perry, so different to the Adrien English stories which are first person. This gives us a chance to get inside Nick's head as well as Perry's. Though I did find the change from first person to third, a little difficult to get into, to begin with.

Perry did remind me of Adrien in a way, though he's a little more vulnerable and less snarky. I loved the fact that Perry thought he could make the dead body disappear by turning the lift off then on again, though if that had happened it would have been a different kind of story.

One thing I found a little jarring was how Nick's attitude toward Perry changed, especially as we're inside his head. At the beginning of the story he's referring to Perry as 'the queer kid across the hall', initially Nick is very disparaging of Perry. You kind of wonder how these two are ever going to get together - there's an antagonism between them. And yet at the end of Chapter One, Nick is comparing Perry to Bambi. But I like the fact that they go from 'speaking different languages' to finding common ground. Perry goes from being 'the queer kid across the hall' to the 'cute twink' to...

I think it's more interesting (or at least different) to see inside both of the couple's heads. I think it makes you appreciate that there is a little more to Nick than just his abrasive attitude.
"He was mad about the dumb bird, he was mad about the dumb kid, and he was mad that he was being dragged into this mess."
It also allows you to see that Perry has a quiet determination all of his own. Though Nick is not convinced that this is necessarily a good thing.
He (Perry) seemed to have patience to spare; it encouraged kooks in Nick's opinion.
One of my favourite scenes in the book beautifully illustrates this - Nick is determined to teach Perry how to shoot, even though Perry has quite clearly stated that this is something that he doesn't want to do. I really like what is revealed about both characters during this scene, and it's all revealed without telling.

They start out as such complete opposites, Perry is a morning person, Nick is not etc. And it's not that they change, but rather that they find a way to fit - which I think makes for a much more interesting story. Nick is older but not necessarily wiser, and he doesn't always understand what Perry is trying to say.
Nick said..."Nobody can make you do anything you don't want to."
Perry said quietly, "People have all kinds of ways of forcing you to do what you don't want to."
Perry is more perceptive than Nick allows for, whereas Nick can be a little insensitive and blunt. I would love to know how their story continues after the book ends.

I'd be grateful for more Josh Lanyon recommendations to help me through my Adrien English withdrawal.