Book Reviews

Body at Buccaneer's Bay (Secrets and Scrabble 5) by Josh Lanyon at JustJoshin Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Law Enforcement / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 18-April-2022

Book Blurb

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Mystery Bookshop owner Ellery Page and Police Chief Jack Carson are diving for the legendary sunken pirate galleon Blood Red Rose when they discover an old fashioned diver's suit, water-damaged and encrusted with barnacles. Further examination reveals the 19th Century suit contains a 21st Century body. Who is the mysterious diver? No one seems to be missing from the quaint and cozy town of Pirate's Cove. Was he really diving for pirate's gold? And if not, what exactly did he do to earn that bullet hole in his skull?

Book Review

And then, they were five. Instalments of Josh Lanyon’s ‘Secrets and Scrabble’ series, that is. First things first for those who don’t have time to read an entire review: if you’re into cozy murder mysteries, if you like a well-spun yarn, a quaint setting, a peculiar casting of characters, suspense without angst, and a romantic subplot devoid of explicit scenes (and explicit expletives for that matter, too), this is for you—grab a copy.


Now, the long version. This book takes the readers back to the peaceful seaside town of Pirate’s Cove. Did I just write peaceful? Sorry, because that word is only true on first sight. Ever since he moved here from New York, main character Ellery Page, owner of the local murder mystery bookshop, seems to always stumble upon weird, long-kept secrets and, more importantly (with the added “duh”-effect because Josh Lanyon? Murder mystery?), the odd dead body. This time, he sets out on a diving trip with his boyfriend Jack Carson, the town’s police chief, who, of course, is an accomplished diver, true to Josh Lanyon’s marked partiality to all-male, athletic “I hide my emotions behind a façade of grumpy cool” romantic counterparts to the main characters. Ellery is less keen on exploring the dark and creepy underwater world—that they cross a dangerous-looking shark doesn’t help. And that Ellery finally discovers, after less than twenty pages, an antiquated diver’s suit in which a dead man is stuck doesn’t either.


The strange thing is, no one has been reported missing for a very long time, in Pirate’s Cove. So, who is this dead man? Where does he come from? What is he doing in that age-old suit? How did he end up in the sunken ship where he was found? A mystery. Luckily, one of the town’s summer guests, a garish rich widow, shows up in his bookshop and tasks him with finding out the identity of the person who, according to her, wants to kill her. Ellery knows he shouldn’t accept the mission, and yet, he doesn’t refuse, even though he knows fully well that Jack won’t be happy about this decision. Indeed, their relationship cools down to icy proportions, and Ellery starts to wonder if the rich widow’s handsome son, who seems to be more than a teenage acquaintance of Jack’s, isn’t to blame.


The great thing with Josh Lanyon is that I always know what to expect. Not plot-wise as there are unforeseeable and unexpected twists and turns in all Lanyon’s stories, but quality-wise. I’m never disappointed, all the more so with this series as I really love the cozy mystery subgenre. Josh expertly uses all the tricks and techniques one usually wants in a book thus labelled. Ever since book one, Lanypn has created a wonderfully atmospheric setting with fictional Pirate’s Cove, the small town that by now feels almost like home to me with its narrow streets, its quaint bars, its beautiful landscapes, its bays and coves, its old buildings. And of course, the cast of secondary characters is just as lushly and lovingly imagined, a bunch of endearing weirdos, if I may say so, who always do all in their might to make Ellery’s life just that bit more complicated and thus the books just that bit more entertaining.


The romance between Ellery and Jack remains a subplot and, as is fit for a cozy mystery, provides no steamy scenes as I’ve already mentioned (which is perfectly okay for me). Yet, nothing else is missing: the heart-twisting ups and downs (Jack has serious commitment issues, so that makes for frequent bated-breath moments where I tremble with anxiety whether the two will have their “Happily For Now” at the end or not); the undeniable chemistry that is the main reason for that trembling; the sweet declarations that always make me melt; and the opposite characters involved that Josh really has down to a t—delicate versus stolid, open versus taciturn, sassy versus serious, with moments where the roles can be inverted for even more “Ooh- how cute!” moments.


All in all, another treat in this amazing series, a treat that makes me look forward, once again, to the next instalment. Little by little, ‘Secrets and Scrabble’ is becoming an insititution for me, not unlike the Poirot or Miss Marple mysteries I so love.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the editor via NetGalley for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 223 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 18-December-2021
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link