Secret at Skull House
Secrets and Scrabble Book 2
by Josh Lanyon
Genre: M/M Cozy Mystery
Ellery Page is back--and poking his elegant nose into trouble again!
Unlike everyone else in Pirate's Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village's only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he's purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.
Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up--especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn't all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?
Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson's first--and only--suspect.
***This story contains no on-screen sex or violence
from Chapter One
Murder is fun.
At least, a lot of otherwise nice, normal people seemed to think so.
Having recently gone through the ghastly experience of finding a body in
his bookshop—oh, and of being suspected of murder—Ellery Page was
less thrilled by the notion of violent death. He couldn’t deny it was good
for business, though.
Something about the idea of murder in a mystery bookstore really
captured people’s imagination. True, a third of the tourists wandering into
the Crow’s Nest this beautiful sunny June morning were there specifically
to see Where It Happened. But because they felt a little guilty for their
ghoulishness, they almost always bought a couple of books before they
left. So while business wasn’t booming, it had certainly picked up.
Which was a good thing because Ellery’s screenwriting career was
going nowhere fast. He glanced down again at the latest rejection letter
from his agent.
The worst part was, while the rejection stung—rejection always
stings, even when you’re getting rejected by people you would reject—he
just couldn’t get too worked up about it. Not on such a beautiful day.
And it was a beautiful day. Like a painting by one of those 19th
century artists who went in for seaside postcards of gentlemen in straw
hats and striped one-piece bathing suits and ladies with—well, frankly,
Ellery was more interested in the gentlemen.
Anyway, really nice weather. The sky was a soft and languid blue,
swirled with clouds as filmy as smoke. The sand sparkled, the water
sparkled, the sunlight sparkled. Brightly colored boats bobbed in the
harbor, flags snapping in the sea breeze.
The only thing that could have made it better was if it had been
Saturday rather than Monday. The weekends meant more visitors to Buck
Island, and more visitors meant more business, and Ellery was going to
need more business—a lot more business—to keep the Crow’s Nest sailing
along. Seeing that Ronny had no interest in pitching Night Chess to
The scenes are void of meaningful or compelling conflict.
What did that even mean? Well, okay, Ellery knew what it meant, but
he didn’t like conflict. Not in his movies and not in real life.
Conflict arrives, is instantly resolved, and the narrative course
Ellery muttered, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
The bells on the front door jingled merrily as Mrs. Nelson swept in.
Ellery’s heart sank.
Hermione Nelson was a heavyset woman in her late sixties with
startlingly blue eyes, hair as red as a rusty battleship, and a small,
pinched-looking mouth that gave the impression that the effort of keeping
her thoughts to herself was starting to give her heartburn. Except, she
never kept her thoughts to herself, so…
Mrs. Nelson was under the impression she was Ellery’s best customer,
and she would’ve been if she didn’t return three quarters of everything she
“Ellery, this book was a complete waste of my time. I can’t believe
you recommended it.” Mrs. Nelson reached the wooden counter, fished
around in her patchwork bag, and thrust a battered copy of The Better
Sister by Alafair Burke at him.
“I’m sorry. It made pretty much everyone’s Best Of lists for 2019.”
Ellery took the hardcover, wincing inwardly at the sight of folded page
“I don’t want to read about nasty people.”
“Well, we’re a mystery bookstore,” Ellery pointed out. “Safe to say, at
least one character in every book is going to be kind of nasty.”
Mrs. Nelson was not amused. “I like my murders to happen to nice
people. What about that new one from Joanne Fluke? I think I might like
“I’m not sure we have any copies le—”
Mrs. Nelson beamed. “I’ll just go and check. We can do an even
exchange. That will keep things simple for you.”
Uh, no, actually that would complicate everything, but Mrs. Nelson
was already bustling away, making a beeline for the Cozy Mystery section.
Ellery swallowed his exasperation. He was still trying to build his
customer base—and being suspected of murder had not helped matters
along—so he felt he had to be extra accommodating to the customers he
did have, even if some of them were using him more as a library than a
He gazed out the large bay windows at the people strolling past, icecream
cones in one hand, shopping bags in the other. A former fishing
village—actually, a former pirate sanctuary, if you wanted to go way back
—Pirate’s Cove was working hard to transform itself into a premium
tourist destination. Things were pretty quiet in the fall, winter, and spring,
but once summer arrived, the little windswept island offered biking,
hiking, sailing, fishing, and lots of sunny beaches to explore.
The island also boasted two historic lighthouses: North Point and Half
Moon Bay, as well as the partially buried ruins of a pirate fortress. Nearly
half the island had been set aside for conservation, with the northwestern
tip serving as a resting stop for birds migrating along the Atlantic flyway.
The potential for business was definitely there. The business itself…
not so much. Not yet.
But the citizens of Pirate’s Cove were working to change that, and no
one was working harder than Ellery.
The Crow’s Nest had been underwater when he’d inherited it from
Great-great-great-aunt Eudora, and it was still leaking like a sieve, but the
sight of all those ice-cream cones and shopping bags gave him hope.
Even better than ice cream and shopping bags was the sight of
Police Chief Jack Carson heading toward the front door of the Crow’s
Nest. Jack’s gaze met Ellery’s through the glass, and Ellery’s heart skipped
a beat. He smiled. Jack smiled back.
Murder at Pirate's Cove
Secrets and Scrabble Book 1
First in an adorable new cozy series!
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he's inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate's Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it's full steam ahead!
Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there's that little drawback of finding rival bookseller--and head of the unwelcoming-committee--Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.
Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery's bookstore, it is.
**This story contains NO on-screen sex or violence.
Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.
Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first Male/Male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan's annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male/Male Series in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads M/M Hall of Fame award.
Josh is married and lives in Southern California.
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