Book Reviews

Scandal at the Salty Dog (Secrets and Scrabble 4) by Josh Lanyon at JustJoshin Publishing

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Law Enforcement / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller / Fiction
Reviewed by ParisDude on 14-July-2021

Book Blurb

Mystery Stalks the Cobbled Streets of Pirate's Cove


Who or what is haunting elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell, what does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog Pub--and why is any of it mystery bookshop owner Ellery Page's problem? According to sometimes boyfriend Police Chief Jack Carson, it's not Ellery's problem, and Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it's too late.Ellery couldn't agree more, but it's hard to say no when someone is as frightened as old Mrs. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell insists the ghost of long dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan. Before Ellery can say, "Yikes!" Mrs. Blackwell takes a tumble down the grand staircase of her spooky mansion, and it's up to Ellery to find who is trying to kill his eccentric customer.


Book Review

This fourth instalment of Josh Lanyon’s cozy mystery series ‘Secrets and Scrabble’ takes me back to Pirate’s Cove, the small town on Bluff Island. After having been roughed up at the end of his last adventure, Ellery Page, former New York-based actor, has returned to his little house and his job as the owner of the local mystery bookshop. But new enigmas seem to just have been waiting for him to recover. First, there are strange things going on at the “Salty Dog”, the town’s pub cum restaurant, and the owner’s daughter, who runs the place in her dad’s absence for health reasons, asks Ellery to help her find out what exactly. In fact, food, booze, and money has been disappearing overnight, and no trace of an intruder can be detected on the security camera footage.


Then old Mrs. Blackwell, one of Ellery’s more eccentric customers, is attacked in her ancient, run-down mansion, and of course, Pirate’s Cove being Pirate’s Cove, she is not only very evasive when Ellery finds her unconscious in her bedroom, but she also claims to have seen the ghost of a long-dead ancestor, infamous pirate Rufus Blackwell. Of course, Ellery has learned his lesson, so he decides he won’t go off on another harebrained solitary amateur sleuth investigation. No, he discusses the matter with his boyfriend (although, is he?), the ruggedly handsome and sizzling hot police chief Jack Carson, who remains cautious as to whether Mrs. Blackwell is really as much in danger as Ellery insists she is. And then, the old lady leaves the local hospital… and promptly tumbles down her staircase and is very dead. What more does Ellery need to poke his nose into business he had better stayed away from?


I really love the quirky little-town world Josh Lanyon has created in this series, and from book to book I grow fonder and fonder of it. Every single character is a bit loony, gossip and speculations are rife more often than not, and the townies as well as any newcomers always turn out to be a bit more than one would think at a glance. I’m not sure this installment is my favorite, though, as for large parts I rather missed Josh’s usual astute dialogs filled with wry humor and witty repartees. There was also no real question of “whodunnit” as I guessed (along with other readers, I’m sure) almost immediately the culprit’s name. As to whether Mrs. Blackwell was murdered or not… don’t count on me to tell you. Anyway, this book felt almost subdued, maybe not rushed as such, but not as finely chiselled and polished as the three previous ones. But still, it made for an amusing and highly entertaining read—one I finished in two evenings, as always, because even though it’s a cozy mystery novel, Josh Lanyon wouldn’t be Josh Lanyon if she didn’t introduce a certain dose of suspense and the odd twists and turns that keep you wildly guessing at whys and hows.


Josh wouldn’t be Josh, either, if she didn’t make the romantic sideplot evolve as well. In this series, it’s the relationship between Ellery and Jack, of course, that interests us readers. If we’ve been kept waiting way into the third book to see a promising outcome (promising, but not necessarily a surefire “Happily Ever After”, mind you), things seem to proceed at a steady if slow pace in this book. Ellery has learned to trust his police lover-and-mayhaps-boyfriend and now discusses his thoughts and findings with him, which comes as a relief. Jack in turn has finally opened up to the (eventual) possibility of commitment and shares his genuine deep feelings for Ellery with him (and us readers). Of course, a slight distraction is introduced to throw us off track, but I for one wasn’t fooled—no way, Mrs. Lanyon! No local doctor, be he hotter than Tabasco sauce and cuter than Matt Bomer, can snap Ellery away from Jack, you hear me? Don’t even think of it!


All in all, even though I feel a teensy bit less enthusiastic about this installment than I did about book number three, I was drawn into the story after only a few words and enjoyed the read very much. I’m impatiently waiting for number five to be written and released as we speak.





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


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel
Heat Level
Publication Date 31-May-2021
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link