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I am a huge Josh Lanyon fangirl so I’m ecstatic to be hosting Josh here with a guest post to celebrate the release of The Ghost Had an Early Checkout. I’d say I was Josh’s biggest fan, but I suspect there would be many lining up to challenge me on that. Still, I’m prepared to argue the claim.
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks has long been a standout among Josh’s books, and I’ve been hoping for, and finally looking forward to this sequel for many years. I’ve purchased the ebook three times. Originally in PDF, then later in EPUB, which is how I do most of my M/M reading. I added it on Kindle recently so I could sync along with the audiobook. It was the first paperback of a gay romance that I ever purchased (although I donated it to a book drive for a prison library seeking LGBT books, so I no longer have it), and it was the first audiobook of a gay romance that I ever purchased. The latter being only a few weeks ago, and I’ve already listened to it three times!
As a writer, I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea of giving reviews, so I’ve made it a policy that I’ll promote for other authors, and even highlight daily passages of my reading on my Sunday treadmill posts, but I’ve always stopped short of writing actual reviews. The upcoming release of The Ghost Had an Early Checkout is the first time I’ve wanted to cross that line because I’m desperate to read the story. But alas, I didn’t, and so I’m counting the days until December 18 along with the rest of you! 💞
The Ghost Had an Early Checkout
Sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
by Josh Lanyon
Genre: LGBT Mystery
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About the Book
To live and draw in L.A.
Now living in Los Angeles with former navy SEAL Nick Reno, artist Perry Foster comes to the rescue of elderly and eccentric Horace Daly, the legendary film star of such horror classics as Why Won’t You Die, My Darling?
Horace owns the famous, but now run-down, Hollywood hotel Angels Rest, rumored to be haunted. But as far as Perry can tell, the scariest thing about Angels Rest is the cast of crazy tenants—one of whom seems determined to bring down the final curtain on Horace—and anyone else who gets in the way.
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Nick was brooding over this, staring out the window over the kitchen sink at the smog-dimmed stars, when he heard the smothered sound of Perry’s cough outside the apartment door. He stepped out of the kitchen as Perry’s key turned the lock.
Perry opened the door, clearly surprised to find the lights on. His thin, pointy face lit up as he spotted Nick. “Hey, you’re home!”
Nick retorted, “One detective per family is e—” but the rest of it was cut off as Perry launched himself. Nick’s arms automatically locked around him, and his mouth came down hard on Perry’s eager one.
What was it about Perry? He was cute enough, sure. Medium height, lanky, boyish-looking. His hair was blond and spiky. His eyes were big and brown and as long-lashed as a cartoon character’s. In this town where two out of every three guys looked like they were trying out for a role in a major motion picture, Perry was almost strikingly ordinary. Maybe that was it. The fact that Perry didn’t look like everyone else. That he didn’t act like everyone else.
It was funny, though, because Perry was almost the complete opposite of what Nick had always thought was his type. Not that he had really thought of himself as having a type—beyond wanting someone with a penis.
Even after nine months, that unstinting…what the hell would you call it? Sweetness sounded too sappy, but there was something so honest, so generous in Perry’s responses. It made Nick’s heart feel too big for his chest. Closed his throat so that he could rarely say the things he wanted to say, things that Perry deserved to hear.
I love you. It scares me how much I love you.
Instead, he said gruffly, “Where the hell have you been at this hour?”
Perry didn’t seem to hear the gruffness. His wide brown eyes smiled guilelessly up into Nick’s. “I was sketching—”
He had to stop, though, starting to wheeze. He threw an apologetic look at Nick and dug out his rescue inhaler. He took a couple of quick puffs while Nick watched, frowning.
This was not good. He didn’t like the sudden alarming reappearance of coughing and wheezing. He put a hand on Perry’s shoulder. Under Nick’s tutelage, Perry had built up some muscle, but he had not really put on much weight. His shoulders were still bony, his collarbones sharp.
Perry put the inhaler away—he didn’t like using it in front of Nick. As if he thought Nick looked down on him for it?
He said, “It was so dusty up there!”
“Where? Where’ve you been?” Nick hoped he didn’t sound as accusatory as he did to his own ears.
“I drove up to Angel’s Rest.”
“That old hotel in the hills. Remember at Dorian’s exhibition last Saturday? The 1920s hotel in those photos?”
“The abandoned place on Laurel Canyon?”
Jesus fucking Christ. He remembered Perry had seemed fascinated by those photos. But hiking around those hills on his own? Anything could happen to him, from being bit by a rattlesnake to running into some crazed homeless person.
Nick didn’t let any of that show on his face. That was one thing he had decided early on. He was not going to undermine Perry’s confidence or self-resilience with his own fears. Perry was not his child, he was his partner. Physically frail or not, he was a grown man.
“Right,” Perry said quickly, as though he sensed everything Nick was determined not to say. “Only it’s not abandoned. Well, not completely.”
Now, studying him more closely in the lamplight, Nick noticed Perry’s T-shirt was smeared with dust and torn at the collar. And—more alarming—his knuckles were scraped and cut.
Perry said, “Anyway, I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t know you’d be home tonight. I bought pork chops for when you got home.”
“Were you in a fight?”
Perry’s eyelashes flicked up guiltily. “Kind of.”
Nick felt as winded as if Perry had punched him. Trying to picture him in a fight was… Well, yes, Nick had been showing him some moves, tried to prepare him a little in case he ever had to defend himself, but still, Perry in a fight?
“I’ve got a lot to tell you,” Perry said. “Should I cook the pork chops?”
“I’ll fix us something to eat. You talk.”
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks
by Josh Lanyon
Genre: LGBT Mystery
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About the Book
His romantic weekend in ruins, shy twenty-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat—and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that’s not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont? Perry turns to help from “tall, dark and hostile” former navy SEAL Nick Reno—but is Reno all that he seems?
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It was still not light when Perry woke. O’dark hundred, Nick would have said. The clock said five thirty.
For a few moments he lay there, blinking sleepily, trying to place himself in unfamiliar surroundings. He remembered that he was in Nick’s bed — without Nick, unfortunately.
And something had wakened him.
There it was again. Perry sat up. He wasn’t dreaming. He wasn’t imagining that faint scratching sound. Mice in the woodwork? It was only too likely. The only cat in the house was Jane’s, and according to Jane, he’d never shown interest in anything that couldn’t be opened with a can opener.
There…not exactly a gnawing sound…but…something was moving behind the wall. Something larger than a mouse. Larger than a cat. Something big…
Perry bolted from the bed and made for the living room.
In the murky light he could make out the blankets and pillow neatly folded on the end of the couch. There was no sign of Nick.
Bewildered and still half-asleep, Perry tried to make sense of this. He recalled Nick going off to investigate on his own the night Perry had found the dead man in the bathtub. He began to search for his keys. They were gone.
Perry swore. What the hell was the deal with Nick anyway? Would it kill him to ask for help — or at least discuss his plans? For a practical guy, Reno wasn’t showing the best sense taking off without making sure he had some kind of backup.
That was probably because he didn’t think Perry was much use as backup, and maybe Perry wasn’t a Navy SEAL, but he knew enough to get help if Nick needed it.
And if Nick had been gone the entire night, there was a damn good chance he did need help.
He went back in the bedroom and dragged on his jeans and shirt, stepped into his sneakers, and exited Nick’s apartment, leaving the door unlocked just in case he didn’t have luck finding Nick.
He crossed the landing to his own tower rooms just in case Nick was over there, but the door to his apartment was locked — which was doubly annoying. He couldn’t get into his own rooms if he wanted to.
Perry went quietly downstairs to the second level. The smell of baking wafted from David Center’s rooms, filling the musty hall with warm blueberry fragrance.
Hearing something from the main hall, he looked over the balcony in time to see Miss Dembecki letting herself out the front door, furtive and noiseless. He considered going after her, but the need to find Nick and make sure he was okay was stronger.
He continued quietly down the hallway and studied the imposing crisscross of yellow crime scene tape across Watson’s door. Somehow he just knew Nick would not find that forbidding web as intimidating as he did.
He tried the handle.
The door swung open.
Perry parted the bands of yellow tape and stepped inside. It was hard to see in the gloom — the blinds drawn against the early morning — and it smelled of the unfamiliar chemicals the crime-scene technicians had used.
“Nick?” he called softly.
There was no answer. He supposed he had not really expected one. Glancing around, he froze at the sight of his open sketchbook — and the rough draft of Nick’s face. The deputies must have been looking through his stuff. Hopefully, Nick hadn’t seen that. He’d be more uncomfortable than he already was.
Perry made his way to the bedroom and snapped on the light, confident that with the blinds drawn no one would be able to tell he was inside the apartment. The closet door stood open.
Something was not right…
At first Perry thought the clothes pole had broken, but then he saw that this was an illusion of the crooked way the shadows fell from the compartment interior. The back wall seemed to be out of alignment.
Cautiously, one eye on the taped outline of where Tiny had died, he stepped inside the closet. Yes, the back wall of the closet was in fact a door. A pretty solid door at that. He felt the edge — four inches of thick and solid wood. Something was propping it open. His gaze fell on the shoe wedged between wall and door and his heart stopped.
Cheap brown leather with a hole in the sole. It was the shoe worn by the dead body in Perry’s bathtub.
His heart began to thud in a tattoo of delighted thrill and alarm.
Just as he had thought — well, suggested — there was a secret passage in the house.
Perry pushed against the back panel, taking care not to dislodge the shoe propping it open. Facing what appeared to be a wall of darkness, he paused. He needed a flashlight.
He’d seen one somewhere in Watson’s apartment…
Perry ducked back out of the clothes that still smelled of Watson’s tobacco and aftershave, and searched around until, on the far side of the bed, he finally located a heavy flashlight that looked like it meant business.
Steeling himself, he returned to the closet and pushed the opening wide. He jammed the shoe into place to hold the door wide, and switched on the flashlight.
Long cobwebs floated gently from open beams. Dust coated everything in gray velvet. In fact, he could see a swarm of dusty footprints leading off into the pitch black.
Great. Cold, damp, and dust. The asthma triumvirate. He pulled out his hanky and covered his mouth. He patted the inhaler in his pocket reassuringly. He was okay. He could do this.
Turning the flashlight down the long corridor, Perry began to follow the footsteps in the carpet of dust.
☆ Guest Post ☆
Article #3 – Giving Up the Ghost
(Interview with Josh Lanyon about writing The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out)
What inspired you to write this book?
My readers. The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks was my first attempt at a standalone mystery, and it turned out to be a gateway book for a lot of M/M readers. Of all my standalones, I’d have to say that—to this day—that book gets the most requests for a sequel. Maybe because it’s such a quirky, kooky take on classic romantic-suspense. Maybe because there’s something unexpectedly touching about the relationship that forms between tough, former navy SEAL Nick Reno and frail, sensitive but spunky artist Perry Foster. Whatever it is, I promised years ago to write the sequel, and this is me keeping that commitment.
Were there any special challenges in writing this book?
That seven-year lag time between books was tough. The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks was first published through Loose Id in 2011, but I’d started the book nearly a decade earlier. So trying to get back inside the skin of the characters took more conscious effort than usual. Only eleven months have passed since the events in the first book, so recovering the emotional continuity was crucial—but so too was recreating the mood and feel of the original.
Also, the M/M audience has changed significantly since the publication of The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks. I think a lot of newer readers aren’t as tolerant of quirky, kooky stories with what they regard as an “old-fashioned” feel. But in order to deliver to the readers who wanted that sequel, I had to stay true to the spirit of the first book.
Is this the last of Nick and Perry?
Yes. They might appear in another holiday coda, but their story is ended—or rather, their story will continue, but I won’t be writing about it. 😉
Meet the Author
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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