Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Review - Fair Game © Josh Lanyon

Fair Game

Author; Josh Lanyon

Publisher: Carina Press

Genre; GLBT

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A crippling knee injury forced Elliot Mills to trade in his FBI badge for dusty chalkboards and bored college students. Now a history professor at Puget Sound university, the former agent has put his old life behind him-but it seems his old life isn't finished with him.
A young man has gone missing from campus-and as a favor to a family friend, Elliot agrees to do a little sniffing around. His investigations bring him face-to-face with his former lover, Tucker Lance, the special agent handling the case.
Things ended badly with Tucker, and neither man is ready to back down on the fight that drove them apart. But they have to figure out a way to move beyond their past and work together as more men go missing and Elliot becomes the target in a killer's obsessive game...

On cue, the blonde in the front line of chairs made a moue of surprise and shifted in her chair to better display her long, slim legs.

What was her name again? Mrachek, Leslie. That was it.

Catching his gaze, Mrachek smiled demurely. Elliot bit back a sardonic grin. Barking up the wrong tree there, Mrachek, Leslie. If Elliot was inclined to get involved with a student—and he wasn't—it would more likely be the broad-shouldered redhead sitting next to her. Sandusky, John.

Sandusky was chewing the top of his pen, staring into space.

Elliot sighed inwardly and continued, "The treatment was no better for officers. More than three hundred of the nine thousand men held at Johnson Island in western Lake Erie, died—primarily of starvation and disease."

His phone buzzed again.

Funny, how you just knew when it was trouble. Granted, Elliot didn't get a large number of calls these days. Not like when he'd been a hot shot special agent with the FBI. His physical therapist, his teaching assistant, his father...that was pretty much it. Maybe that explained why he was having trouble tuning out that ghostly knocking on the desktop. So much for his vaunted power of concentration. Tucker would have—no.

He wasn't about to let his thoughts stray in that direction.

Elliot glanced at the clock in the back of the room. Four minutes to the hour. Close enough.

"And that about does it for today, people."

A few faces blinked at him as though he'd woken them from a dream—which he probably had. Hands dived for cell phones and the incessant messaging and texting began; God forbid anyone actually talk to the person next to them. Laptops, papers and books were shuffled into backpacks and the students began filing out of History 353.

Elliot turned away from the lectern.

"Professor Mills?"

Mrachek, Leslie accompanied by a bored-looking Sandusky, John smiled up at him.

Elliot raised his brows in inquiry. His expression must not have been encouraging because her smile faltered.

"Leslie, right?" he asked more cordially.

"Yeah. Leslie Mrachek. I'm also in your Film and History: The American West class." She was turning the full battery of white teeth, blue eyes and adorably freckled nose his way. Elliot controlled his impatience. Not her fault if his knee was beginning to ache and he was suddenly, keenly feeling the frustration of his new sedate, confined life in academia.

© Josh Lanyon

My thoughts

When professor Elliot Mills gets a call from his father, not regarding their weekly dinner date, but with concerns about a missing boy - Elliot does not wait he immediately starts asking questions.

Elliot can because he was an FBI agent now turn professor and as such he knows to tackle things early and follow his gut instincts. Elliot is fairly new to the teaching profession and if not for a knee injury he would still be back with the FBI and not having to be reading plagiarised work and listening to pompass jackasses who think they own the world.

When one thing leads to another Elliot has to venture back into his old life and this brings Tucker into his world. Elliot has not seen Tucker since his injury and there are unresolved feeling for how they ended their ‘relationship” and he was not looking forward to locking horns with him.

Special Agent Tucker Lance has already made up his mind about the missing boy and he will not have anyone rocking the boat – even if that person is Elliot. When things escalates and Elliot is dragged further into the whole mess Tucker does what he does best - takes control.

However not only do they now have a killer with his eyes set firmly on Elliot, but rubbing shoulders together and some alone time tossed in leaves Tucker in a position to make things right – but will Elliot accept the olive branch.    

I have read only about two Lanyon books and they were not the best of reads for me, after reading alot of the mixed reaction to this book I decided to give it ago. The added bonus for me with FAIR GAME is also the fact that it has quite a bit of my own reading preference incorporated – the mystery, the FBI there in some capacity and from the blurb it seems as if I was in for some angst as well..

My initial reaction after reading the book is definately not WOW but freakingly good and this is with a whole lot of niggles slotted into the mix.  FAIR GAME is Elliot’s story for all intend and purpose – it’s about his life after the FBI, it’s about finding his groove in the place where he is at now and it’s about hopefully his last brush with the criminal elements that he has spend so many years putting behind bars.

I got this story through Elliot's eyes and as such I got the jaded ex-FBI agents point of view, one where over-analysis is par for the course and loads of sarcasm filtered into quite a few of the scenes.

What I liked

FAIR GAME has an eclectic bunch of characters and they made this story. There is Elliot's Dad who was my personal favourite character in the book with his radical thoughts and his roguish charm that have the ladies all a flutter. The other cast members ranges from the mooching neighbour, the man hunting student and Elliot's co-workers who were a questionable lot if you ask me.   

Elliot's voice – I mentioned this before, but this was really one of the highlight of the books for me. Elliot's outlook is quite a distrustful one and he is quite pragmatic in how he looks at a situation – even emotional ones and this sometimes put him at odds with people he loves the most.

Tucker – What can I say about Tucker, he was an arsehole and I loved him. He did wrong, he acted out – he wanted to have his way, but in the end he made good. Loved him.

The relationship – I suppose I liked this area because I am tired of the sweet romances – Tucker and Elliot’s connection is not a gradual journey of finding  themselves. They are forced to be together and they can skirt around their issues and waste another seventeen months of their life or they can resolve it when the sun goes down and all his quite… 

The mystery – thriller lovers you will like, not love but definately like. The pace starts slowly and with suspicion thrown on a slew of people it was really neat how Lanyon kept the mystery as long as he did. 

The  writing – I will admit I am not one to focus on how refined or how prosy an author is with their writing, I am definately a mood reader and I like it that way. That said I could not help but love areas of the book that Lanyon choose to  get really descriptive with..  There were two scene in particular that were not just perfect in the telling but wonderful in how real the author made the moment – one with Tucker and Elliot bearing all in the dead of night and the other a scene where Tucker has to apologise to his Dad..  .

This was it. This was the crossroads. He thought he’d left it miles behind, that the decision
had been made for better or worse, but as though he’d traveled in a circle, here it was again:
the turning point—a second chance if he wanted it.
He needed to say something.

© Josh Lanyon


The niggle for me in this book stem from the old saying the things you love just might might  be the thinks that niggle you as well..

Busy plot – While I loved the mix bag of characters Lanyon introduced me to, I thought there was too much things happening under the main mystery and not enough of them were tied up by the end of the book.

Language – Quite a bit of the second half of the book relies on the fact that the reader would have watched “CSI” or “Criminal Minds”. The language is trade speak - unsub and devolution of a serial killer personality are not terms you would find in your everyday thriller. The change from lay person talk to trade talk was rather sudden as well.

Romance readers will have a problem with this book as there is little to no romance, there is no over-lusting scenes or even big tear jerker moments. The men are just trying to make do with what they have and they were not rushing it. 

Thriller readers like myself will immediately be annoyed by how evasive Elliot is about his time in the FBI. Not enough detail was given for me to sink into and since Tucker and Elliot separation hinged on what happen during “that” time – I was really put out that some sort of synopsis of “the event” was not given in the book. 

This is more a personal observation of myself than a niggle about the book – I find I am liking when annoying people get bumped off in a book. I was feeling no remorse when one character got exactly what he deserved … mooching old so and so.

Lover of “the reason behind the madness” that I am was a little let down that the mystery was wrapped up rather quickly after the who done it was known.

Bottom line

I am quite pleased I read FAIR GAME – I would have missed out on a book that while did not blow me away definately got a reaction out of me and made me want to have a discussion about the highs and low of it.

The characters were my kind of people and I even had a laugh out loud moment or two from some of them. I loved how the author mislead me as long as he did with the mystery and I enjoyed Elliot's slow but sure acceptance of the life that he had now.

After meeting these characters I will definately be hunting down more of Lanyon work…

15 Speak To Me:

Leontine on 11 August 2010 at 16:54 said...

I'm on the fence with Josh Lanyon, I like his writing and usually his characters too but it misses a lot of triggers for me as well. With so much still to discover in this genre my attention mostly wonders to other books.

I've seen FAIR GAME at NetGalley but now that i've read your review I know it is not really the story for me. Thanks EH :)

Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 17:01 said...


I am more not liking the plot of the books that I have read by this author than the characters - I find the characters really good to be honest and the emotions he can pull out of a scene is wonderful..

The Plots are just - "read that already" for me. The character definately carried this book...

I haven't tried the Adrian English series (yet) - but I understand they are a good set of books to get a good feel of this author style...

Hopefuly another book by the author will call to you...soon


Sophia (FV) on 11 August 2010 at 17:03 said...

I've seen mixed reviews on this one. I've only read one Josh Lanyon but I think I'll pass on this one. I'm thinking of trying the Adrien English series. Thanks for the review EH

Smokinhotbooks on 11 August 2010 at 17:07 said...

I loved this one! This is probably one of my favorite Lanyon releases this year.

Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 17:08 said...

@Fiction Vien..

I just bought the first two of the AE series - as I really liked the characters in this one and I have heard so much about Jake and Adrien.

This author seems to do really good characters that stand tall...

Let's compare notes when you have read the first one...


Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 17:10 said...


I loved bits of it and I was annoyed by bits as well...

I really want to see how Elliot's dad and Tucker got on and as for the killer - I love gore too much..

...But I really wanted to understand the mindset behind all the killings...

I love profiler stuff...

Glad you enjoyed it...


Blodeuedd on 11 August 2010 at 19:39 said...

Not so sure about the trade speech part, that could put me out of my mood

Anonymous said...

Great review! I haven't read much by Lanyon. I have some books in my TBR, though.

Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 21:20 said...


Hey girl if the inner workings of a crime is your thing - the language would be idea, but I suspect the average reader would know what a unsub is...


Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 21:22 said...


I need to catch up on Lanyon's work as well - you would love these Characters, they were a pleasure...


Chris on 11 August 2010 at 23:06 said...

I liked this one a lot. And I was ok with it not having a lot of romance - that actually made it feel more realistic to me.

Hmm. Veri word is unhot.

Erotic Horizon on 11 August 2010 at 23:24 said...


The non romance was a winner for me as well, I liked...

and I agree that their connection was realistic and if that is hwe Jake and Adrien are I am sure I am going to love it...

I think it was the balance between the non romance and the mystery that niggled me...


Tracy on 12 August 2010 at 15:38 said...

I have to agree with Chris that the "romance" in this one did it for me as well. It was more realistic because the men already knew each other and needed to talk things out and just lay it all down.

Lanyon did mislead us on this one for quite a while and I only figured it out right before it was revealed. I love that. :) Glad you liked it.

Lily on 12 August 2010 at 17:59 said...

I have this one on my wish list. It sounds good. Great review!

Jenre on 12 August 2010 at 21:02 said...

Reat review :)

I had mixed views on this one too, EH. I did like the romance part of it though and thought Elliot and Tucker worked well as a couple. It wasn't my favourite JL, book but worth reading nonetheless.