Reviewed by Tori
Twenty years ago, four year old Brian Arlington was kidnapped from his home in the middle of a night and never seen again. Though the suspected kidnapper was eventually caught and sentenced for his crime, he has maintained his innocence from the beginning and nothing could tie him to the crime but a ransom note.
Griffin (Griff) Hadley, an investigative journalist, has gained permission to write the story of Brian’s kidnapping, hoping to learn some new information and revive interest in the decades old case. While the patriarch of the family has given Griff the go ahead, other family members and the family lawyer will do anything to stop the book from being written.
As Griff sifts through the layers of deception to discover the truth of what happened that fateful night, it’s his own memories that may provide the most shocking story of all.
Stranger by the Shore is a romantic suspense mystery set amongst the rich and reclusive. Lanyon pens a tale of jealousy, deception, and betrayal that centers around a decades old kidnapping. With the faint wave towards the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping case, Lanyon sets the scene, using descriptive phasing and intense characters, to introduce us to the conflict right along with our protagonist; Griff Hadley. Steady pacing and a slow reveal keeps readers wondering what exactly happened to young Brian Arlington…and why.
Griff Hadley, a journalist for a small town paper, is shocked when his request to write a book on the Arlington family’s greatest tragedy is granted. Quiet and reflective, this is a challenge he has wanted for a long time. His first introduction to the opulence of the Arlington estate is one of wonder and distaste. He sees, from the antique crammed cottage he’s staying in to the grown children still living there, that the family is far removed from the real world. Having been raised by a fearful & frugal single mother, this family is an anomaly to him. As the story progresses, his passive interference opens up long buried wounds and grievances that move the family towards the answers they seek.
A strong cast of characters brings a rich dynamic to the story from the ever hopeful grandfather, Jarrett Arlington to the antagonistic overprotective family lawyer, Pierce Mathers. Lanyon presents each character whose facade we learn hides a multitude of sins. No one is what they seem and everyone has a secret to protect. Long times readers of Lanyon will recognize the characterization used.
The romance wasn’t a strong voice in the story and that disappointed. The chemistry was almost non existent. It read awkward and the characters’ connection seemed more a matter of convenience than actual attraction. The interactions between the lovers are very sexual but it never crossed over into what I might call a potential relationship. Most of the personal information that was learned by either party seemed to come from a third party source.
The mystery moves slowly, revealing little bits here and there. A heavy hand in foreshadowing almost guarantees the reader will figure out the main points rather early on but the journey towards the reasons why are finessed out in an engaging manner. It’s a comfortable book, reminiscent of old Lanyon offerings. I was put out by one scene that is used as the catalyst for solving the mystery and pushing the other plot lines to the finish line. It was trite and took the easy way out of an otherwise interesting dilemma.
Regardless of my misgivings towards certain aspects, Josh Lanyon’s latest offering offers a nice respite from the general day’s hassles and leaves readers with the coveted happy ending.