Exclusive Excerpt of “Lay Your Sleeping Head”; the new Gay Mystery Novel from Michael Nava



Thirty years ago, The Little Death introduced Henry Rios, a gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer who became the central figure in a celebrated seven novel series. In a brilliant reimagination of The Little Death, Lay Your Sleeping Head retains all the complexity and elegance of the plot of the original novel but deepens the themes of personal alienation and erotic obsession that both honored the traditions of the American crime novel and turned them on their head. Henry Rios, a gifted and humane lawyer driven to drink by professional failure and personal demons, meets a charming junky struggling to stay clean. He tells Rios an improbable tale of long-ago murders in his wealthy family. Rios is skeptical, but the erotic spark between them ignites an obsessive affair that ends only when the man’s body is discovered with a needle in his arm on the campus of a great California university. Rios refuses to believe his lover’s death was an accidental overdose. His hunt for the killer takes him down San Francisco’s mean streets and into Nob Hill mansions where he uncovers the secrets behind a legendary California fortune and the reason the man he loved had to die.


Exclusive Excerpt:

A movement in the shrubs outside my bedroom window woke me. I glanced at the alarm clock: 3:18. The soft shuffle of footsteps on the sidewalk was followed by a quick rap at the front door. I pulled on a pair of pants and felt my way through the darkness to the living room. I stood at the door and listened. There was another knock, louder and more urgent. I looked through the peephole. Hugh Paris stood shivering in the dark. I was startled but not surprised, maybe because I’d thought of him so often in the past few weeks, it was as if I’d finally conjured him up. A breeze blew his hair across his forehead. I opened the door.


“Don’t turn on the porch light,” he said. “I think I’m being followed.”

“Come in.” He slipped through the door and I closed it softly behind him.

Followed? Was he high? I guided him to my desk and switched on the reading lamp to get a good look at him. His eyes were clear and alert. He was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt; I scanned his arms for signs of track marks. The ones I saw were old and healed.

“I’m not high,” he said, watching me. “But I could use a drink.”

“Sure thing,” I said.

I went into the kitchen and poured a couple of shots of Jack Daniel’s. When I returned to the living room he was poking around the stack of orange crates that held my books and music. The last time I’d seen him, the oversized jail jumpsuit had concealed his body. The form fitting jeans and T-shirt revealed a slender but muscled frame; a gymnast’s physique. I was appropriately appreciative.

“Here you go,” I said.

He turned and took a glass from me. “Prost,” he said, touching his glass to mine. Smiling slightly, he openly appraised my body. “Not that I’m complaining, but when I pictured you naked, I saw a hairy chest.”

“It’s the Indian blood,” I said. “What are you doing here, Hugh?”

“You gave me your card, remember, told me to call you day or night, for whatever I needed.”

He set his glass down on the coffee table, took mine from me and set it beside his. He stepped forward into my arms, tipped his face upward and we kissed. His tongue slid lazily into my mouth and I savored his taste and the warmth of his hard, little body against mine. I licked that elegant neck and cupped his hard little butt. His fingers worked the buttons of my 501s and grazed the tip of my cock. With a last, lewd kiss, he dropped to his knees. I reached down, hooked my arms around his armpits and lifted him to his feet.

“Stop,” I said.

“You want me to stop? I’m famous for my blow jobs, baby.”

“Sit down,” I said, directing him to the couch. I buttoned up my jeans and sat down beside him. “I gave you my card weeks ago. If all you wanted was sex, you could’ve called me anytime. I would have come running. Instead, you show up at my apartment in the dead of night telling me you’re being followed. You’re not obviously high, so what’s up?”

When he picked up his drink, I caught the glint of his watch. It was very thin and silvery but not silver. Platinum. Watches like that went along with trust funds, prep schools and names ending with Roman numerals.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call. I really wanted to. I felt, you know, that we connected.”

“Me, too,” I said. “I tried to find you. Looked you up in the phone book, had a friend at DMV run your name. I even went to the Office a couple of times thinking maybe you’d show up.”

“I’m not easy to find,” he said. “Precautions.”

“Against what?”

“I told you I came back from New York to deal with some family things and they’ve been getting pretty heavy. I got a scare tonight. I needed to find a safe place. I thought of you.”

“You need to fill in some blanks for me.”

“I don’t want to mix you up in my drama.”

“You already have. So let’s hear it.”

He picked up his glass and took a slug. “I come from money.”

“I guessed that from the watch.”

He glanced at the watch. “Good eye,” he said. “Vintage Patek Philippe. It was my dad’s. I managed to hang on to it through—everything.”

“Everything meaning junk.”

“Everything,” he said empathically. “Including junk. But like I told you at the jail, I’m clean now.”

“I’m glad you kicked, Hugh. Go on.”

“My family has a lot of money. My grandfather controls most of it through a family trust. While I was out there using, the only thing I cared about was that he give me enough to maintain. Eventually, he cut me off. I had to find other ways to take care of myself. After I got clean, I began to look into the trust. All I wanted to know was what was mine, but I discovered some things about how my grandfather got control of the money. Criminal things.”

“Like what, diverting funds? Embezzlement? ”

“Murder,” he said.


“He had people killed. That’s how he got control of the money.”

I had heard enough incredible stories from interviewing clients that I knew to keep a game face, ask leading questions and wait until they tripped themselves up.

“Who do you think he had killed?” I asked.

“My grandmother and my uncle,” he replied.

“Why them?”

“It was my grandmother’s money. She was going to divorce him. He killed them to prevent it.”

“What does this have to do with you being followed?”

“He knows I’m on to him,” Hugh said. “I felt like someone was following me tonight. I freaked out. The city didn’t feel safe, so I came here.”

“What do you think you’re grandfather’s going to do to you?”

“If he can’t scare me off, he’ll kill me, Henry.”

I finished my drink and said, neutrally, “Your grandfather wants to kill you. Really?”

He frowned. “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?”

“Put yourself in my position. In the middle of the night, a guy you met once shows up at your house and tells you he’s being stalked by his grandfather who’s some kind of serial killer. What would you think?”

“See,” he said angrily. “That’s why I didn’t say anything to you at the jail.”

“How did you get out of jail?” I asked him. “Who did you call?”

“My Great-uncle John, my grandmother’s brother. He has some influence down here.”

“I’ll say he does. I heard the DA dropped all the charges,” I said. “Does your uncle know about your allegations against your grandfather?”

Hugh shrugged. “I told him. He thinks . . . He thinks I’m angry about how the old man’s treated me.”

“He doesn’t believe you,” I said.

“I have evidence,” Hugh said.

“Then you should take it to the police,” I said. “There’s no statute of limitations on murder and if your grandfather is cheating you out of money that belongs to you, I can refer you to a good civil lawyer.”

He stood up. “I’m sorry I bothered you, Henry. I’ll be leaving now.”

I grabbed his hand. “Wait. This is what I think, Hugh. You come from money but you ended up on the streets shooting junk and now you’re clean. While you were out there, your grandfather cut you off and you’re angry about that. Maybe he was practicing tough love or maybe he’s an asshole, I don’t know. I do know that depending on how long you used, it might be awhile before your head clears up completely. In the meantime, I’d be very careful about accusing people of being murderers.”

“You’ve got me all figured out, don’t you?” he said with a small smile.

“I’m just trying to make sense of what you’ve told me.”

He looked at me. “You want me to go?”

I shook my head. “I want you to take your clothes off.”

He smiled. “If you still want me to stay after what I told you, you’re as crazy as I am.”

“I haven’t stop thinking about you since we met.”

He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor, kicked his shoes off, unbuttoned his pants, pushed them to his feet and stepped out of them. He hooked his fingers into the waistband of his briefs and slipped them off. He stepped between my legs. This time when he sank to his knees, I didn’t stop him.

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Check out the interview I did with Michael Nava in May 2014 below:

Author Michael Nava; Creator of the Highly Popular Henry Rios Mystery Novels


Lay Your Sleeping Head


Excluslive Excerpt: Slip and Slide (Death and Destruction series Book 3) by Patricia Logan


ATF special agents, Thayne Wolfe, and his partner, Jarrett Evans, have gotten into sticky situations in the past but nothing prepares them for the daunting task of being loaned out to a coal mine in West Virginia where Jarrett’s grown up. Investigating a deadly mining explosion may be the end of them yet.

In one of the most beautiful places on earth, Jarrett is familiar with the territory, growing up working in a nearby mine for a couple years before joining the Marine Corps just after high school. When he and his partner encounter a dubious mine CEO, two ATF agents who they’re tasked to investigate, and a good ‘ol boy who has a pickaxe to grind, all they can hope, is to solve this case before ending up dead and buried in that mine.

From the beaches of California, to the coal-rich mountains of Appalachia, Jarrett’s dubious past seems to rear its ugly head wherever they go. Join our heroes as they are forced to face danger, fear, and maybe the most frightening thing they’ve ever faced together… family.


They headed out to a local bar where the hotel staff said the food was good… a place with a pretty nice T-bone which Jarrett wanted, and a great selection of appetizers and salads for Thayne. The concierge told them that some of the locals stopped in there as well as an eclectic mix of those passing through and when Jarrett had asked about moonshine, the concierge smiled and told them that they had a good selection of various flavors made by some of the locals.

“They have flavors?” Thayne asked Jarrett as they sat down at the bar at the Silver Dollar Saloon.

“Not everywhere. Some of the hillbillies’ resist putting anything in there that ain’t in their pappy’s recipe but they can sell more if they can make it appeal to the ladies and they like that flavorful shit.”

Thayne leaned close. “So if I ordered for example, peach moonshine, I’ll get jumped in the parking lot?”

Jarrett snickered, making those deep dimples appear and his light eyes twinkle. “Probably safer than if you asked for a peach Bellini but are you willing to risk it?”

Thayne chuckled just as the bartender walked up. He was a huge man and he was cleaning a shot glass with a bar towel.

“What can I get for y’all?”

“My friend here has never tried moonshine,” Jarrett drawled, letting his accent come out in full force. “Thought since he’s visitin’… it might be the perfect time to change all that. Give him the good stuff, not that tourist trade shit.”

The bartender smiled beneath his long mustache as he raised a bushy eyebrow. “That’ll be two then?”

“Yes, thanks,” Thayne answered. “And a green salad with chicken,” he said, reading off the bar menu.

“Fair ‘nuff,” the bartender replied, turning to Jarrett. “You?”

“T-bone, medium rare and a baked potato, with all the trimmings.”

“Comin’ right up.” The bartender reached under the bar and poured something, finally producing two mason jars filled a quarter of the way with clear liquid. He set one in front of each of them before moving away to put in their food orders.

Jarrett picked up the mason jar, holding it up to toast Thayne. “We drink to those who love us… we drink to those who don’t. We drink to those who fuck us… and fuck to those who won’t.”

Thayne laughed as he watched Jarrett take a long drink of the moonshine as he shot the whole thing down. His eyes squinted, then closed, and then he sucked in both cheeks before opening his mouth and letting out a satisfied “Ahh…”


Jarrett’s eyes fluttered open. “It’ll put hair on your chest, that’s for sure,” he drawled. Thayne lifted the jar and took a deep sniff of the moonshine. There wasn’t much scent to it. He lifted his glass, toasting Jarrett like his partner had.

“Here’s to the ideal woman… who could ask for more? She’s deaf and dumb, oversexed… and owns a liquor store.” He threw back the moonshine as Jarrett burst into laughter. Thayne instantly felt the hot burn of diesel fuel pour down the back of his throat. He gasped and when he was able to cough out a breath, he felt like he could breathe fire. Jarrett clapped him on the back as he sputtered and the bartender appeared in front of his watery eyes. He was grinning like crazy, his mustache twitching.

“That was fun ta watch. Entertain me with another?” the bartender asked with a deep drawl.

Jarrett nodded his head. “Yep. One more before dinner.”

Thayne turned his head, still gasping, and looked at his partner. “You didn’t tell me this stuff packs this much of a wallop.”

“The next one will go down easier,” Jarrett promised. His eyes were dancing as he snickered. The bartender came over and set down two more mason jars. Thayne’s head was buzzing already but he was not going to let Jarrett best him in this game he was playing. He watched as Jarrett picked up the mason jar and toasted him again.

“One shot, two shots, three shots, more… if she’s ugly, shoot some more.” Thayne laughed as Jarrett shot back the moonshine and then slammed the thick glass mason jar back on the bar. Watching him drink was almost as much fun as drinking with him.

“Okay, the last one,” Thayne said. He picked up his mason jar and held it up to toast Jarrett. “No matter how fine, that ass is to hit… remember somebody, is sick of his shit.” He shot back the moonshine and set down the mason jar. Jarrett was right. This time the moonshine went down a lot easier. Thayne watched his lover dissolve into laughter. He looked stunning with deep dimples in his cheeks and his eyes twinkling. Jarrett’s laughter was contagious and soon Thayne was laughing along with him.



Exclusive Excerpt: The Next One Will Kill You by Neil S Plakcy


If Angus Green is going to make it to a second case, he’s needs to survive the first one.

Angus wants more adventure than a boring accounting job, so after graduating with his master’s degree he signs up with the FBI. He’s assigned to the Miami field office, where the caseload includes smugglers, drug runners, and gangs, but he starts out stuck behind a desk, an accountant with a badge and gun.

Struggling to raise money for his little brother’s college tuition, he enters a strip trivia contest at a local bar. But when he’s caught with his pants down by a couple of fellow agents, he worries that his extracurricular activities and his status as the only openly gay agent will crash his career. Instead, to his surprise, he’s added to an anti-terrorism task force and directed to find a missing informant.

It’s his first real case: a desperate chase to catch a gang of criminals with their tentacles in everything from medical fraud to drugs to jewel theft. With every corner in this case—from Fort Lauderdale’s gay bars to the morgue—turning to mayhem, Angus quickly learns that the only way to face a challenge is to assume that he’ll survive this one—it’s the next one that will kill him.


Next One Will Kill You Excerpt 1

Angus Green is a newly-minted FBI agent in the Miami office, and in the opening scene of The Next One Will Kill You he’s competing in a gay strip trivia contest at his local gay bar, Lazy Dick’s, when he spots two straight agents from his office in the audience. In this scene at the office on Monday, he talks with the agents he met.

When my alarm went off at seven I didn’t feel like I’d slept at all. I was at my desk reviewing weekend surveillance reports when Roly came to my office door. “Conference room,” he said. “Now.”

Roly was a Cuban-American guy who’d been in the Miami office for a dozen years, turning down promotions to stay near his family. He was a snazzy dresser, always wearing tailored suits. He’d brought a machine into the office to make Cuban coffee and he often brought tiny cups of it he called cortaditos to meetings.

My adrenaline level shot up as I followed him down the hall. And it went through the roof when I saw the SAC in the conference room. He sat at the oval table, talking to Vito, who sat across from him.

Had the SAC vetoed my chance to help Vito and Roly when he discovered I’d taken my clothes off in order to win a measly thousand bucks?

Vito was Italian-American, a career FBI guy who had moved around the country, getting a promotion each time. Like every male agent, he wore a dark suit to work, though he often switched the standard white shirt for a pale blue or green one. He was heftier and taller than Roly, but they were both the kind of guys whose looks screamed “federal agent.”

I hadn’t mastered the FBI look yet. I bought my suits at a warehouse store and my white shirts at Sawgrass Mills, the big outlet mall. When I looked in the mirror after getting dressed, sometimes I felt like a little kid wearing an adult costume. And walking into that conference room was like being summoned to the principal’s office.

I hesitated in the doorway as Roly slid into a chair next to the SAC, a middle-aged guy, neatly trimmed hair, ordinary suit. “Come in, Agent Green. Sit down,” the SAC said, motioning to a chair next to Vito. He looked like any attorney or accountant you’d run into on the commuter trains in the northeast. “You’re working on the armored car detail, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” I said as I sat.

“I’ve heard you’re doing good work there. They’re going to be sorry to lose you.”

My mouth dropped open. “You can’t fire me for taking my clothes off. I wasn’t even naked.”

The SAC’s eyebrows rose. “Nobody’s firing you,” he said. “Though you should be careful where you’ve been taking your clothes off. Roly and Vito have asked to have you transferred to a case they’re working. Any problems with that?”

I shook my head, my stomach churning and my head spinning. “No, sir.”

“Good.” He stood up. “Young agents need good mentors. You’ve got two of the best here. I expect you to learn from them.”

“Yes sir.” I waited until he had left the room to turn to Roly and Vito and say, “Now will one of you please tell me what the fuck is going on?”

“What’s going on is that you got yourself right in the middle of a tip that came in,” Vito said, leaning back in his chair so far that I worried the buttons on his white shirt might burst over his stomach.

“An interesting one that has come to a dead end,” Roly said. “We’re hoping you can use your unique talents to give us a jump start.”

I slumped back in my chair. “I thought I was getting fired.”

“Yeah, that was kind of fun to watch,” Vito said.

I glared at him. “You’re going to mentor me, you might try being nicer.”

“Niceness is not Vito’s specialty,” Roly said. “There’s a wholesale jewelry show coming up in Miami Beach in mid-October. Week from now. It’s one of the biggest in the country, and attracts buyers and sellers from around the world. Over a hundred million dollars in precious gems there.”

He shot back the cuffs on his immaculately tailored black suit and rested his forearms on the conference room table. “We had a tip that there’s a major theft in the works. Source was supposed to meet us Saturday night at that bar but he never showed.”

He slid a manila folder across the table to me. I opened it and saw a single sheet of paper inside, the contact form we filled out each time we spoke with an informant or did any investigation. “Paco?” I asked. “All you got was Paco? Isn’t that a common Spanish nickname?”

“Read the material, rookie,” Vito said.

Paco, whoever he was, had called our tip line from a number that couldn’t be traced and said that he had information on a possible breach of homeland security.

Well, he hadn’t said it in those words, but the operator had figured that out and routed his call to Roly as a member of the JTTF—the Joint Terrorism Task Force, one of nine FBI squads under the broad umbrella of counter-terrorism. The JTTF included thirty-eight participating agencies with over a hundred and fifty personnel, many of them from local law enforcement agencies detailed to work with us full-time on domestic terrorism.

Roly had taken careful notes on his conversation with Paco, who had worked for a food vendor at the Miami Beach Convention Center and knew all the back entrances and where security was stationed. He gave specific examples. “These true?” I asked, looking up.

“Would we have been waiting around at a gay bar if it wasn’t?” Vito asked.

I was still pissed about the way I’d been tricked. “I don’t know anything about your personal life.”

Vito scowled. “Watch it.”

“Boys. Play nice,” Roly warned, but there was a hint of a smile on his face.

I was being invited into a case that might be a lot more interesting than sitting behind my computer analyzing data. Time to stop acting like a child and be professional.

I continued to read. Someone had paid Paco a thousand bucks to draw a diagram of the convention center and identify all the security breaches he knew about. He didn’t know what was being planned, but he was worried they were going to do something to hurt people. That was why he had come to the FBI.

Roly had asked him a series of questions, and the end result was that it didn’t look like terrorism, but a plan to rob some of the jewelry wholesalers at the trade show. That was why Vito was involved; he worked in the Violent Crimes Unit, which handled a whole range of criminal activities, from those on the high seas—cruise ships and container ships—to theft of art, jewelry, or other high-priced items. Pretty much anything that was a violation of the Hobbes Act, which governed interstate commerce. Since the wholesalers were coming to Miami Beach from lots of different places in the US and abroad, any theft that occurred there could technically be considered a Hobbes Act case, giving the FBI jurisdiction.

“Did Paco pick Lazy Dick’s, or did you?” I asked, when I finished reading.

“He did,” Roly said. “He said he was a busboy there, and that he’d slip us the information when he was clearing our table. But after a while with no contact, we asked our waiter if Paco was there. He said Paco hadn’t showed up for work.”

“Running into you was our only piece of luck,” Vito said. “We didn’t know it was a gay bar or we would have sent you in the first place.”

So they knew I was gay, even when they hardly knew me. I hadn’t been hiding my orientation since coming to Miami, but I hadn’t been bragging about it either.

“Seriously?” I asked. “A bar in Wilton Manors. Called Lazy Dick’s. You guys had no clue the clientele would be gay? Doesn’t say much for your intelligence-gathering abilities.”

“I live in Miami,” Roly said, as if that explained it. “You tell me a bar on South Beach, sure, I wonder if it’s one of the gay ones. Vito here is the Fort Lauderdale expert.”

“I know there are gay guys in Wilton Manors,” Vito said defensively. “But I didn’t realize the bars were so, you know, segregated. We have a gay couple lives across the street from us in Cooper City. They go to the same restaurants and stores we do.”

“Be that as it may,” Roly said. “We figure if you’re a regular there, you can find out more about Paco and what’s going on than we could. You saw the way Vito and I stood out in that bar. Nobody was going to talk to us. You, though, they’ll talk to. Find Paco, and find out what he knows. Then come back and tell us, and we’ll figure out how to proceed.”

“You want me to go in there and start asking about a jewelry heist?”

“No, rookie,” Vito said, adjusting the shoulders of his plus-sized suit. “We want you to go in there and be your charming self. Chat guys up. See if Paco comes back to work, and if not, find out who he hung around with, what he might have known. And remember, intelligence is like milk. It goes sour after a couple of days.”

“When does this jewelry show take place?” I asked.

“Starts a week from Thursday,” Roly said. “So you’d better get moving. When you find anything, run it past me or Vito. We’ll be around, but this case is yours from now on. Capisce?”

“You’re not working it with me?”

“You pull us in when you need resources.”

I nearly tripped over my feet in my eagerness to get back to my desk.


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