Wednesday, May 21

Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Carina Press and is used solely as an aide to the review.

Twenty years ago, four year old Brian disappeared from the Arlington estate. Now, criminal journalist Griffin Hadley is writing a book that he hopes will cast a new light on the cold case.

However, Jarrett Arlington – Brian's grandfather – is the only one encouraging Griff's presence in Long Island. Family, staff, and friends are all set against his intrusion, including Pierce Mather, the Arlingtons' staunch lawyer.

When Griff begins to receive anonymous threats it becomes clear that his prying is making someone wary. Is finding out the truth about Brian's disappearance worth the expense of his own personal safety?

Lanyon's newest novel was one of my most anticipated reads for this year. It did not disappoint. While I enjoy his amateur sleuth stories, I liked that 'Stranger on the Shore' veered from that path and focused on an investigative journalist researching a cold case. It made for a different, and interesting, angle to the development of the mystery.

Atmosphere plays a vital role in the novel and envelops the reader, making the story all the more palpable. 'Stranger on the Shore' has a nice balance between hazy and vivid, giving the story a wonderful ambiance, but still maintaining a realism that kept me absorbed throughout.

I was notably drawn to the interactions between Griff and Pierce. In a different scenario, Pierce's hot and cold attitude toward Griff might have been jarring, but it fit perfectly within the context of the novel. Pierce had so many suspicions and stipulations, and it was interesting to see the conflict  – and sexual tension  – between him and Griff, who is adamant about writing the book on Brian's disappearance. It made for a great dynamic between the two characters from the start.

I liked that the focus of 'Stranger on the Shore' wasn't so much on uncovering what had happened to Brian, although Lanyon does not dismiss that significant factor of the novel. What I appreciated was how the mystery focused more on the how and why of the disappearance, and – of course – the culprit. Nothing was too straightforward, and I was always guessing and second guessing events, happy to be swept up in the intrigue.

There were aspects of the 'Stranger on the Shore' that, if handled poorly, could have come across as gimmicky. However, Lanyon managed them tactfully, threading speculation throughout the narrative, rather than choosing blatant ambiguity or shock value, which could have easily backfired and lessened the impact of the mystery. Lanyon's deft development of the story made for a well-written, engrossing read.

I am a huge fan of Lanyon's work, particularly of his novels. I wait in eager anticipation for the next and highly recommend 'Stranger on the Shore' to any avid mystery lover.

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