Believe it or not, this is actually my first official review for a Josh Lanyon book. In the past I’ve made short comments on books, but I never wrote an actual review. Jefferson Blythe, Esquire, has the dubious honour to be the first one.
It’s also one of the harder books to review. All of Josh Lanyon’s books are good, with ratings between three and five stars, but Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is a story that drags it heels. It’s primarily a mystery and a coming of age story for Jefferson. Throughout the story he comes into his own as he makes discoveries and learns to make his own decisions. That part of the story was well done. It’s romance angle that didn’t quite work.
As he is still quite young, I didn’t expect there to be a happily ever after in the way of settling down with a white picket fence and the trademark dog. It’s not Lanyon’s style, nor did it fit Jefferson or George. In the end there wasn’t any real progress. Without giving away the story, the ending leaves the story open for further books or just one of those books that end like they end.
Back to the story as a whole. I like Jefferson. He was fun, awkward and at that stage where he’s trying to figure out life with the training wheels off. He’s on a trip through parts of Europe, but honestly, with being mistaken for an international criminal, it doesn’t go very well. It was good to see Jefferson traveling and discovering cities. Well, bits of it.
The story is quite long, and I liked that. However, the second half of the story was slow going compared to the first half. It switches off between Jefferson traveling, sightseeing, actions scenes and awkward interludes with the former boy next door George. Despite that it’s just slow going, but not in the way that it takes your attention completely away.
The writing itself is – as always – very good. There is not a lot of telling, only when it fits the story. Jefferson doesn’t spill his life’s story on the first page, but the readers discovers things along the way. Just like Jefferson makes discoveries about himself. The writing is solid and not overly flowery or descriptive, but distinctive for the author.
A red line throughout the book is Esquire’s Europe in Style from 1960. A book with essays and commentaries about Europe. I like Jefferson’s style, taking a new approach to traveling. The story is filled with little quotes from Esquire that fit into the story.
The mystery was well done. It’s exactly that, a mystery. Like Jefferson, we are left wondering what on earth is going on and how Bella could be so persistent. I for one, didn’t figure things out until the end. Then it all made sense. The mystery is also believable. Not one of those far fetched ones with over the top solutions or revelations.
Like it all stories, the characters are well crafted. Even the antagonists. I would have liked to know more about George, but in a way his mysteriousness fits with the story. Jefferson carries the story, but George fits right in (pun not intended). There are a host of side characters, but they are not overwhelming, nor are they flat characters that just make an appearance.
Overall Jefferson Blythe, Esquire, was a nice story to read, but it doesn’t have the oomph of some of Josh Lanyon’s other stories.
Why you should read it: why not? This is a Josh Lanyon story and the author is always guaranteed to a have a good read. However, as stated above, it doesn’t have the oomph that some of the author’s previous stories have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read Jefferson’s story.