This is the second novel in Josh Lanyon’s new Cozy Mystery series (Secrets and Scrabble), and we follow our snarky and often clueless main character Ellery Page who once again finds himself him a whole heap of trouble.
As it turns out, Ellery’s ex-boyfriend and famous horror author Brandon Abbott has just come to town and purchased the supposedly haunted/cursed Skull House. Abbott has purchased the house because of the two murders that have occurred there. Ellery is not happy about Abbott’s surprise appearance in Pirate’s Cove, given that their relationship ended badly.
Things become even more complicated when Brandon stirs the hornet’s nest of a twenty-year-old murder case of a local high school football player and the subsequent disappearance of his supposed killer — a case that certain townspeople want to be forgotten. As Brandon begins to investigate the cold case — much to the chagrin of certain locals — Ellery finds himself once again thrust into the middle of a murder case. As in the first book, Ellery begins ‘sleuthing’ to clear his name and reputation, which are once again being smeared in the local paper. As in the first book in this series, Ellery’s amateur investigating leads him into even more trouble.
In this story, we also see the continuation of Ellery’s hot and cold, romance/non-romance with Police Chief Jack Carson, which again, stalls before it can take off, which, truth to told, resulted in somewhat of a frustrating reading experience. So like the first book, romance in this one is mostly non-existent. The author does a magnificent job of placing the story’s primary emphasis on the murder mystery with a small (and possibly developing?) side story on the two principal characters.
As this is a cozy mystery, there is no sex, cursing, or on-page violence, but what we do have is a fast-paced, whimsy, light and comforting read with a few exciting twists along the way as decades-old secrets become revealed. But that being said, I found that Secret at Skull House contains all the things that cozy mystery readers live: quirky and colorful locals, a small town, plenty of gossip, and a compelling mystery to solve and I’ll be interested to see where Lanyon takes the series in future books.
A huge thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this story.