Josh Lanyon Main Title

This Rough Magic

Book #1 in the Shot in the Dark series
Historical (1930s) Mystery, Private Investigator, Comedy

Josh riffs on the classic Thin Man films (and Shakespeare) with This Rough Magic, the first book in the new, lightly comic A Shot in the Dark mystery series set in 1930s San Francisco.

Wealthy playboy Brett Sheridan thinks he knows the score when he hires tough guy private eye Neil Patrick Rafferty to find a priceless stolen folio of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Brett's convinced his partner-in-crime sister is behind the theft -- a theft that's liable to bring more scandal to their eccentric family, and cost Brett his marriage to society heiress Juliet Lennox. What Brett doesn't count on is the instant and powerful attraction that flares between him and Rafferty.

Once before, Brett took a chance on loving a man, only to find himself betrayed and broken. This time around there's too much at risk.

But as the Bard himself would say, "Journeys end in lovers meeting."

Read an excerpt


The story begins in the most traditional way possible for a tale about a private dick [am I allowed to say that on SiN?] with a first page from Neil's point of view that could have come from Chandler or Hammett, except it has the delicious substitution of a homme fatale instead of the more usual female love interest. But the story is not solely a romance. There's a good plot on several levels, an excellent cast of supporting characters and several BIG surprises. I'm not one of those readers who pores over every little clue to try and solve the mystery before the denouement, I just let the story happen and go 'oooh' with each revelation. [Lazy? I prefer to say I move at the author's pace.] I enjoyed it immensely... definitely one for the Read-Again folder.
Erastes for Speak its Name - A 5 Star Read
My Opinion: Move over Hammett, out of the way Chandler! This story by Josh Lanyon should be on the shelf beside those two. I've read other Josh Lanyon stories, but in this one, he's gotten the hard-boiled PI story perfected. This Rough Magic reads as if it was written in the era when Hammett and Chandler plied their trade. Rafferty is tough, able, and ready for action while at the same time hiding an odd gentleness beneath his hard-boiled exterior that's only revealed in a secret darkness exposed by danger and a brush with death. His moments with Brett are as tender and sensitive as any love story and bring facets to his character that are in keeping with the narrative as well as the genre. Add descriptive, almost poetic phrasing and this is a great entertainment.
Toni V. Sweeney, author of historical and fantasy/sf fiction
Aside from its original and well thought-out storyline, what stands out about This Rough Magic is the excellent characterization, especially Brett's. The suffocating weight of his responsibilities for a family that doesn't deserve his sacrifices, and the tangible desire he feels for Rafferty are depicted with clarity and emotion. Rafferty and Brett's surprising moment in the alley is erotic without being explicit and poignant without a word spoken between them. Brett's despondence nearly destroys him. Rafferty breathes life into his sad, lonely life, giving him hope in a hopeless situation, creating even more angst for them. Their hope for any kind of a relationship seems futile, which makes the ending the best kind of HEA. This Rough Magic has an old-fashioned feel and reads like an eloquently written play. It's suspenseful and substantial. Novels with this kind of tangibility are why Josh Lanyon's books are recommended reads for me over and over.
Nanette for Joyfully Reviewed - A Joyfully Recommended Read
This Rough Magic was a wonderful story and of a type to be expected from the electronic pen of Josh Lanyon. The story was - for me - a delightful read and peek into the San Francisco of the mid-20th century, and shows why I am a fan of Mr. Lanyon's works. It is a mystery that is filled with a bit of suspense, a missing folio, a bit of surprising news for one of the characters, and sprinkled with a small dash of 'mad caper.'
Lily for Night Owl Reviews - A Night Owl Top Pick
Author Josh Lanyon's writing sparkles as he takes readers for a spin in the Thirties-style crime fiction. Mr. Lanyon has said that This Rough Magic is a riff on The Thin Man, but while (it) takes place in the Thirties and shades of Hammett's famous novel color the book, doní't expect Rafferty and Brett to be Nick and Nora -- or even Nick and Nick. Rafferty and Brett are wholly unique characters, and theyí'e heroes I fell hard and fast for. Rafferty looks the part of a hardened PI, but he's surprisingly -- and even adorably -- sweet. I worried Brett would break his heart, and Mr. Lanyon kept me guessing as to how things would work out for the pair. Brett's determined to marry heiress Juliet Lennox, but his reasons for doing so stem from a single-minded effort to keep his head-in-the-clouds family afloat. Brett and Rafferty are sympathetic characters and being that this is a historical, Brett's engagement is actually the smallest of the obstacles their burgeoning relationship faces. A cast of idiosyncratic secondary characters bring flashiness to This Rough Magic, contrasting perfectly with the more grounded Rafferty and Brett. By turns tender, witty and charming, This Rough Magic was a delight to read, and I can't wait to see Rafferty and Brettís story continue in the next Shot in the Dark book
Lily of Romance Junkies Reviews
Josh Lanyon calls upon his incredible ability to blend literary references into the fabric of his own work. Shakespeare, The Thin Man and others, I am sure you can find, seem to combine in This Rough Magic. Humorous in parts, serious in others, Josh Lanyon takes the reader on quite a ride as we figure out who stole the folio. We also get to experience the difficulty men experienced in the past when their love did not follow the accepted norm. This Rough Magic illustrates though, that nothing can stand in the way of love -- not society and not others' expectations. Another literary delight from Josh Lanyon, This Rough Magic will amaze his readers.
Elise for
From the very first page when I cracked this open, I felt like I was settling down for a conversation with an old friend. As the story unfolded, Lanyon didn't disappoint. I was completely engrossed, enjoying the evocative imagery and lovely writing all the way to the very last sentence.
Leslie for Jessewave Reviews

This Rough Magic
2013, JustJoshin Publishing Inc.
June 2014, JustJoshin Publishing Inc.
Narrated by Jordan Murphy
April 26, 2011, Loose id
No longer available


Copyright 2000-18, Josh Lanyon.
All rights reserved.