Exclusive Excerpt: Boystown 9: Lucky Days (The Boystown Series) by Marshall Thornton

Blurb:

In the ninth book of the bestselling mystery series, a young man wakes up covered in blood and no memory of the previous night. When hypnotism doesn’t help, he turns to private investigator Nick Nowak. Meanwhile, the trial of Outfit kingpin Jimmy English begins. Quickly the case begins to unravel when an important witness goes missing and Nick must put his other cases, and his home life, on hold while he goes to Las Vegas to find him.

 

Excerpt:

Jimmy’s trial was held in one of the larger courtrooms on the sixth floor of Cook County Courthouse. The room was lined in a light, polished stone, which might have matched the outside of the building if they managed to sandblast off the few decades of grime that clung to the building. There were four very large windows to the right as you walked in. The ceiling was made up of painted wooden beams with flat fluorescent lights in each of the boxes the beams formed. The jury sat opposite the windows in sixteen leather armchairs that swiveled but were bolted to the floor—they could see everything, but were denied the right to pick up their seat and throw it. An aisle separated the twelve jurors from the four alternates.

The judge’s bench was raised and looked down at the rest of the room. Next to it was a witness box on one side, and a recorder’s station on the other. Almost in the center of the room was a long table where the prosecution would sit while they presented their case; the defense would sit at another long table along the side of the room, looking straight at the jury. Mid-trial, when it was the defense’s turn to present their case, we would change positions. There were flags hanging from tall poles behind the judge, and brass embellishments running around the room near the ceiling—my bet was they had something to do with justice and that no one ever really looked at them.

The spectators would be sitting in sixteen oak pews, eight rows deep, and one pew on each side of the courtroom with an aisle in the center. The first pew on each side was designated for the defense and the state’s attorney. I wouldn’t be sitting there, though. I would be sitting in one of four chairs that lined the wall behind the defense table.

When I arrived that morning Jimmy was already there, seated at the defense table but pushed back a few feet, resting his hands on his cane. He’d aged quite a bit in the few years I’d known him. I can’t imagine the stress of a criminal investigation is good for the skin; his was pale and thin as plastic wrap. Standing near him were Nathan Babcock—fiftyish, tall, patrician, neatly groomed—and Owen Lovejoy, Esquire—shortish, stocky wearing an expensive suit and over-large tortoiseshell glasses. We’d been friends for a couple of years and I was fairly certain he was a better lawyer than Babcock. It was unlikely he’d ever be put in front of a jury, though, since he had a tendency to flutter his hands about, overemphasize his S’s, and call other men ‘darling.’ Jurors who took against a defense attorney were likely to convict regardless of guilt or innocence.

I took my seat against the wall, placing the two boxes of documents I had at the ready on the seat next to me. On the other side of the boxes was a woman in her early sixties, Nathan Babcock’s secretary. She, too, was there in case of emergency. She didn’t bother to say hello to me, so I didn’t bother to say hello to her.

Mrs. Barnes, as I later learned she was called, probably judged me as insignificant based on what I wore. I had on my old corduroy jacket. I’d had it dry-cleaned, but it still looked like it had been run over by a semi. Beneath the jacket I had on a white Oxford shirt, a plaid woolen tie, 501s and brown, Florsheim penny loafers. I should have upgraded my wardrobe. I certainly had enough money to, it’s just that every time I went into Marshall Field’s or Carson, Pirie, Scott all the clothes seemed designed for either East Coast bankers with a penchant for weekend golf or some costumer’s idea of which pastel an undercover cop might wear in Miami.

At the State’s table, Linda Sanchez stood with two other ASAs. She was raven-haired and dark-eyed. She wore a blue pin-striped suit over a cream-colored blouse that boasted a big floppy bow around her neck. On her feet, she wore a pair of Nikes, which she eventually traded for a pair of conservative, two-inch heels she carried in her briefcase. The two other ASAs were men. One was forty and doughy, and even from twenty feet away I could see he resented Sanchez, who was clearly in charge. The other ASA was Tony Stork.

Tony was around thirty, tall, lanky, with an upper crust North Shore look to him. He had sand-colored hair and dark eyes rimmed with thick lashes. I was surprised to see him on their team. A few years before, he’d prosecuted a guy named Campbell Wayne, who tried to throw me in front of a CTA train. He’d also given me a memorable blow job in an empty interview room. Since I’d also dallied with Owen Lovejoy, Esquire, that meant I’d had sex with lawyers on each side of the aisle. I decided it might not be good to spread that information around.

 

As it neared ten, the pews filled. A good number of the spectators seemed to be press, but there were also a few other people I recognized. Lydia Agnotti was there sitting in a pew near the back. She was Jimmy’s granddaughter. We’d met when she’d tricked her brother into killing their stepfather. Her brother was now in prison, while she roamed the streets.

Sliding into the front pew were Beverly Harlington and Rose Hansen. Beverly was Lydia’s mother, whose first husband was Jimmy’s deceased son—Lydia didn’t happen to have anything to do with his death. Rose was Jimmy’s daughter. She and Beverly were more appropriately dressed for afternoon tea than court. On the other side of the room, looking somber and determined, was Deanna Hanson with her much older boyfriend, Turi Bova. I have to say, with all of Jimmy’s family there it looked more like a custody case than a mob trial.

Aside from the press and the family, there were a couple of other middle-aged men who looked like they might be members of the Outfit: their dark polyester slacks, golf shirts, windbreakers and Italian shoes were dead giveaways. At the top of Jimmy’s food chain was a man called Doves. My guess was that these guys would be bringing Doves the news of the day.

I didn’t understand why Rose and Deanna were there. They were both going to be witnesses and I doubted they’d be testifying on the first day, so I wondered what made them think they’d be able to remain in the courtroom. When I was on the job I’d had to testify about a dozen times. Each time I’d had to wait in the hallway until I was called. I didn’t know why Rose and Deanna thought they’d be entitled to watch the trial, other than the fact that they felt entitled in general.

A bailiff walked into the court from the back; a red-haired woman wearing a khaki and green uniform. In her late forties, she had very large breasts jutting out, making me wonder if she even knew there was a walkie-talkie and gun on her belt.

“Please rise.”

We did.

“Cook County Criminal Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Martin Corbin presiding.”

Next came a meek looking court reporter in a brown dress with a white lace collar. Behind her, Judge Corbin in his black robes. He was in his late fifties, with thinning white hair and a puffy face. Once he got situated behind the bench he said, “Please be seated.”

We sat.

The judge looked around and then said, “This is State of Illinois v. Giovanni Agnotti. Is that correct?”

ASA Sanchez and Nathan Babcock each stood and said, “Yes, your honor.”

“I like to make sure. Cousin of mine went into the hospital to have a testicle removed. They took the wrong one. Now he has none. I wouldn’t like to come to work in the morning and hear the wrong case.”

It was a crazy thing to say. Most of the people in the room didn’t know whether to laugh or not. Certainly, Jimmy’s team was confused. The ASAs, though, they knew to laugh and were putting on a show of it. Judge Corbin looked pleased with the response he got. I wondered if he began every trial with this same joke.

“Before we begin jury selection, are there motions?”

ASA Sanchez stood up and motioned that witnesses be excluded from the courtroom. “With the exception of Mr. Agnotti’s family members, of course.”

Since Rose and Deanna were witnesses for the state’s attorney, I fully expected Nathan Babcock to object and ask that they be excluded. Instead, he stayed seated and said, “No objections, your honor.”

I was surprised by that, but from the look on her face not as much as ASA Sanchez. For a moment, I thought she might jump up and say, “Oh no, your honor, never mind.”

The judge announced that jury selection was going to begin. The bailiff went to get the first round of sixteen jurors to be questioned. Owen looked over his shoulder then pushed his chair back to me.

“Have you spent much time in a courtroom?” he asked.

“A bit.”

“We’re not expecting this to go more than two weeks. Maybe less.”

“What about Devlin? Will you be able to talk about him?” In my opinion, the best defense for Jimmy would be to focus on Devlin and his creative ways of gathering confessions. Beating the crap out of witnesses tends to make their testimony inadmissible.

“There was a motion to suppress two weeks ago. I guess we’d call it a draw. We can’t bring him up, but it’s impossible to keep him completely out since he interviewed most of their witnesses.”

“So you won’t be calling me?” Devlin was responsible for pretty much all of my recent injuries. I would have loved to testify about him.

“No,” Owen said. “We can’t put you on the stand or present testimony about Devlin’s prosecution.”

“Will they be calling him to testify?”

“No. The first question is always name and address. If he didn’t say Cook County Jail he’d be perjuring himself and if he tells the court where he currently lives we get to ask why.”

“So this is going to boil down to how much you can get in about Devlin without asking questions about Devlin.”

He gave me a devilish smile. “Darling, you should have been a lawyer.”

When the prospective jurors got settled, the judge told the attorneys they could begin. Sanchez and Babcock took turns asking bland questions like, “Do you think you can be impartial?” Occasionally, Sanchez would ask a juror how they felt about police officers. If she didn’t like the answer she’d dismiss the juror. Babcock asked a similar question about the restaurant business and let go of a couple of jurors who’d once been waitresses. It was all pretty obvious stuff.

While I sat there, I wondered exactly what was going on. The most damning evidence against Jimmy would come from his granddaughter, Deanna. She’d been informing on him for more than a year, providing Operation Tea and Crumpets—the task force investigating Jimmy—with a journal that detailed Jimmy’s activities for nearly thirty years. Keeping something like a journal was a stupid idea, but Jimmy admitted to me that he’d done just that. Then, when I finally got to look at a much-copied Xerox in discovery, I’d realized there was no way Jimmy had written the journal. The handwriting was wrong. So, he’d lied to me. What I hadn’t figured out was, why?

The case began to crumble when it became obvious that Devlin was a bad cop. The Feds dropped it like a hot potato, but ASA Sanchez persisted. I had an inkling she thought the publicity could only be good for her career. What I didn’t understand was the defense. Why hadn’t they insisted the handwriting in the journal be compared to Deanna’s? At this point, given the weakness of the prosecution’s case, just suggesting that Deanna had written the journal herself might have been enough to get them to drop the charges.

Of course, Jimmy could simply be protecting Deanna. Providing false evidence was a crime, as was lying to federal agents. Conceivably, she could spend half a decade in prison. Was Jimmy counting on his expensive lawyers to get him off without exposing his granddaughter’s lies? I’d known Jimmy for a while. That seemed like something he’d do. I knew family was important to him. His grandson was in prison; I doubted he wanted any more of his grandchildren to end up there.

Jury selection took a bit more than two hours. Once the jury was empanelled, Judge Corbin gave them a little speech.

“This is my courtroom. I make the rules here and what I say goes. You’ll note that the state attorneys or the defense attorneys will often object to my decisions. In fact, they will likely try to influence you by the objections they make. Don’t let them.”

He stopped to give both sides in the case a dirty look.

“This is an important trial that has garnered interest from the local press. You are not to read any of the articles written about the trial or watch any news programs that include stories about the trial. If at any time I think any one of you has ignored these instructions I will sequester you all.”

Now he gave the jurors a dirty look.

“There’s something I want to make very clear to all twelve of you jurors and also the four alternates. At this moment in time, Giovanni Agnotti is innocent.” I watched ASA Sanchez flinch when he said it. “He’s innocent because in the American system we are all innocent until proven guilty. The fact that Ms. Sanchez believes she can prove that Mr. Agnotti is guilty does not make it so. He is innocent until the state proves to you he is not. And on that note, we should break for lunch. We will reconvene at two-thirty.”

It wasn’t quite one. We had nearly two hours before court began again. Not enough time to go back to the office, but enough time to get really bored. Rose and Beverly were already hovering around Jimmy—from the comments they made it seemed as though Jimmy’s driver was going to drive them somewhere “decent” for lunch. Babcock seemed to be tagging along, though I wasn’t sure I had an invitation. When the party began to walk out of the courtroom, I noticed Lydia Agnotti hovering nearby. She was pointedly ignored by her mother and her aunt; Jimmy may have nodded at her, but I couldn’t be sure.

When they’d walked completely out of the courtroom, Lydia turned and glared at me. My exposing her as the one truly responsible for her stepfather’s death had caused the estrangement with her family, so we weren’t exactly friends.

I’m not sure, but she may have hissed at me.

Exclusive Excerpt: Michael Nava’s “Lay Your Sleeping Head” – A Henry Rios Novel

Blurb:

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.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 4

Hugh was staying in a nineteenth century cottage on a sketchy street deep in Hayes Valley. Late Victorian, Queen Anne’s style; wide wooden plank porch and intricate and extraneous wooden carvings and lattices, all of them in an advanced state of decay. I knew all this because I’d tricked a few times with a guy in the city who restored Victorians and whose idea of pillow talk was pulling out a pile of blue prints and showing me the differences between Gothic Revival and Eastlake and Italianate and Richardsonian Romanesque – Queen Anne was somewhere in there. I was standing at the uncurtained window watching the fog lurk in the street and half-listening for the howl of the Hound of the Baskervilles; this kind of wet, cold, spooky summer night was everything I disliked about the city.

Hugh was in bed, sleeping it off. The rusting pipes gurgled as they digested the bucket of his puke I’d poured down the toilet. At the ER he swore that evening was the first time he’d used in six months, as if that was supposed to make me feel better. The fact he’d been clean that long meant his usual fix could have been lethal. Fortunately for Hugh, the guy who’d wandered into his cubicle at Liberty Baths and found him passed out with his lips turning blue was a doctor. Otherwise, he’d be dead. 

“You little fuck,” I said softly but what I felt more than anger, more than anxiety, was sadness and confusion. This thing happening between us is what Hugh had called it. Me, I hadn’t called it anything, even to myself, but there was something  if not “a marriage of true minds” – what did Shakespeare mean by that anyway? – then at least a  recognition. Yes, that was a good way to think about it; a recognition. But what did we recognize in each other? I was an out-of-work, maybe washed up lawyer, with too much time on his hands and too many unanswerable questions on his mind and Hugh was – well, what he call himself – a wastrel? Old fashioned word. Here was another: a remittance man paid to stay away from his family who had wandered home where no one was waiting for him. Maybe all we had recognized was that we were each superfluous. Or was it loneliness? Isolation? Horniness?

I turned away from the window. In the kitchen I poured myself a glass of brandy.  The slow, smooth burn of expensive alcohol on my tongue – add to my list, and he drinks too much – failed to quiet the damning self-assessment rattling around in my head. Back into the living room I took stock of the odds and ends of furniture, couch, chair, a coffee table, a couple of floor lamps. Not nearly enough to furnish the big, oddly-shaped space, just enough to suggest transience. The walls were covered with a muted but quite ugly floral wallpaper, curling at the edges, where dark squares and circles and rectangles indicated where pictures had once been hung and furniture pushed against the wall.  The varnish had worn away on much of the wooden floor and the exposed wood was splintering.

..

This was home? Hell if I lived here, maybe I’d take drugs, too.  I wandered over to a built in bookshelf that held a couple of dozen books. Old, worn-out paperbacks, Tolkien, Herman Hesse, Howl  — a college sophomore’s library. The Joy of Gay Sex looked to be the newest addition. Next to it, oddly, was a worn-out copy of The Little Prince, the pages almost in tatters. A solitary, skinny volume lay face down on the bottom shelf. I reached for it, and turned it over: Whirligig: Selected Poems by Katherine Paris. Hugh’s mother? I scanned the table of contents and turned to a poem called “The Lost Child:”

When they cleaned you and gave you to me,
long legs and fingers, red glow
rising from creased flesh,
eyes already awake, gaze steady,
I shook for three days
in my knot of hospital sheets.

Tears came later—cries, fears, fierce holding.
The ways you’d shake me off.
Your well of rage. Over and over
you bloomed in your separate knowledge.

“Is that my mother’s book?”

He wore baggy sweat pants, thick wool socks and an old black cable-knit sweater over a black turtleneck. His pale skin was the texture of a parchment or a blown narcissus petal. The blue eyes were still like the sky, but the sky at twilight, the upper reaches fading into black. He had never look more fragile or more desolate up or more beautiful. I wanted to fold him into my arms but instead I handed him the book, still open to the poem I’d been reading.

“The Lost Child,” he read. “She didn’t lose me, she gave me away.” He pointed with the book to my glass. “Can I have some of that?”

We traded. I turned the book over to the dust jacket photo of the author. She had airbrushed to an indeterminate age and, because the photo was black and white, her hair could have been blonde or silver. Her face was as symmetrical as Hugh’s but the effect was statuary.

He went on a coughing jag. I put the book in the shelf, went over, took the glass before he dropped and then went into the kitchen and brought him water.

“Drink this,” I said.

He put his hand up, coughed a little more, then took the water and sipped it.

“Are you all right?” I asked him.

He slumped into the couch. “You asked me something like that at the jail,” he said. “It was a stupid question then and it’s a stupid question now.”

I stared at him. “So I guess that means you’re fine. In that case, I’ll be on my way.”

“No, please,” he said. “I’m sorry. Please.” He touched the cushion beside him. “Don’t go. Sit.”

I sat down. He drank his water. I sipped my brandy.

“What the fuck were you thinking, Hugh?” I asked softly.

“I was thinking I was strong enough to do what I had to do. I was wrong.”

I waited.

“I went to see my dad,” he said.

I was confused. “Your dad’s dead.”

“That was a lie,” he said. “Half-lie. He might as well be dead. He’s in an institution, Henry. He’s a schizophrenic.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but why didn’t you tell me? Why lie?”

He shook his head. “No, I’m afraid.”

I moved an inch closer to him. “Afraid of what, Hugh?”

“That I might be like him.”

“Why would you think that?”

“It was something someone said to me when I told them what my grandfather had done to me. He said, maybe I was imagining it, maybe it was – what’s the word the shrinks use – a confabulation.” He sprang to his feet and went to the same window where I had stood. “That something did happen to me but it wasn’t my grandfather who did it and I was blaming him because when my dad went into the hospital and my mom left and I went to live with my grandparents, I was too young to understand and I thought he had taken me away from them.” He turned from the window and looked at me, pleadingly. “Do you think that’s possible? Am I crazy.”

“What you told me your grandfather did to you,” I said quietly, “was pretty specific and it sounded very much like rape.”

“Oh,” he said. “I’ve been raped, Henry. More than once.” He shrugged. “A little white junkie boy running around Harlem and Alphabet City trying to score? Rape was the least of it. I was robbed and beaten, too. I’m lucky no one killed me.”

Anxiety constricted my chest as I listened to him and wondered whether anything he’d told me about himself was true. Or had it all been the ravings of a disordered mind? Then the lamplight glinted off his Patek Philippe watch. I thought about the hundreds in his wallet, the exquisite table manners. His mother’s book. The prep school photo, The healed track marks on his arm. No, it wasn’t all fantasy. He was from money, he was troubled, he was an addict. His story about his family was more consistent than not: he had been abandoned by both his parents. And even if these accusations against his grandfather conflated anger at their abandonment with unrelated memories of molested, that was not the type of confabulation I had encountered in the handful of my clients who had been diagnosed as schizophrenics.  Their confabulations were global and persistent and obvious after even ten minutes talking to them. I had just spent four intense days with Hugh Paris; no schizophrenic could have held it together that long or in those circumstances.

“Maybe you’re confused,” I said, “but I don’t believe you’re crazy, Hugh.”

“I want to believe that, too,” he said.

“What happened when you went to see your father?”

He crossed the room and sat down with me again. “I was nine the last time I saw him. He went off in a black car without even saying goodbye. I was heart-broken. My dad was more than my dad, Henry. He was my playmate. From as far back as I can remember he was always there, ready to get on the floor and let me climb all over him, to play hide and seek, or empty my toy box with me. And he told me stories. Wild stories.” His voice was breaking. He paused and breathed. “I know now those stories were part of his sickness but back then they were like our secret language. My mom, she wasn’t around much, so it was my dad who fed me and bathed and read me bedtime stories.”

The Little Prince,” I said.

“My little prince,” he said, wiping his eyes on the sleeve of his sweater. “That’s what he called me.”

“And today?”

“He didn’t know who I was,” Hugh said. “I tried to remind me but he said he didn’t remember having a son. I brought The Little Prince with me. He stared at it like he had never seen it before. Nothing, Henry. There was nothing in his eyes when he looked at me.”

I held him and let him cry.

 

Good-bye 2016 – Happy New Year 2017; My Year in (brief) Review

Happy New Year, everyone!

Gone is 2016, and not soon enough if I might say. It was a year full of wonderful times, and not so good times. The year began on a high note for me as I had self-published my novel, Prince of the Sea, in December of 2015 with the help of author/publisher, Ryan Field and his husband, Tony. I didn’t realize the amount of time and effort needed to self-publish a novel-not to mention the significant learning curve. By the beginning of 2016, I realized that I needed to do something different in order to market the book because sales were very minimal, and I needed to get additional exposure in an indie market saturated with gay and m/m romance stories. Upon the advise of a some fellow authors, I decided to pull the novel from all third-party distribution and go exclusive with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which unfortunately carried a commitment of three months. Sales continued to be low, even after I’d reduced the price and offered a FREE promotion. I believe much of the problem with sales was due to lack of distribution channels, and a rapidly slowing e-book market not yet evident.

Nearing the end of my commitment with Amazon KU, I felt self-publishing wasn’t for me at this time in my writing career, so I reached out to a publisher I had been watching for  few years. Steve Berman with Lethe Press graciously offered a contract to re-release Prince of the Sea, and I’m so glad he did. My little novel received a greater distribution channel, and received much more exposure with my association with a well-known indie publisher. Even better, Lethe also released Prince of the Sea in paperback, which was something I was unable to offer on my own. And, to top off the year, Prince of the Sea has just been released in an audio version by Lethe, narrated by the very talented Philip Church, and distributed via Audible and Amazon.

2016 also brought some not so good times. Early in the year, I began experiencing near-fainting episodes, and was eventually diagnosed with hyperglycemia. Basically, my blood-sugar would fall low enough to cause dizzy, near-fainting spells. I learned that I am pre-diabetic a few years ago, and I had not been watching my weight closely, or getting much exercise of late. Though I started out the New Year vowing to drop some weight, time eventually caught up with me, and my body let me know just how unhappy it was. So, I got my butt into the gym and within six months, I’d lost twenty-five pounds. The good news is my doctor agreed not to prescribe a daily diabetic med; the bad news, I still have to watch my eating habits, and ensure I eat every few hours to avoid any hypoglycemic episodes. And continue to get exercise.

More bad news came on April 11th. While out with my husband for the afternoon, we got a call from our home security company that our alarm’s motion detector in the finished basement had been tripped; they were sending police. We got to the house at the same time as a police officer, who insisted he enter our home first. He then immediately reappeared onto the front porch and ushered us inside. To our shock, we heard–then saw–the water running down the walls and ceiling from the upper floor; everything in sight was saturated and water was continuing to spill at an alarming rate through the ceiling. Rick raced to to the basement to cut off the main water supply, but the damage was already done. We later determined a water supply line beneath our master bath vanity separated at the connection, and water ran wide open for about five hours, spreading from the master bathroom to the bedroom, closet, beneath the walls to one of the guest bedrooms, into hallway, down the stairs, the walls, through the ceiling of the main floor into the kitchen, dining room, breakfast room, a portion of the living room – then traveled through the floor into the ceiling of our finished basement into the den, our home office (where we run our business) and finally into the storage room.

Once insurance settled our loss, we were able to begin reconstruction in June to the home we’ve been in for twenty-two years now. Yes, you heard right; we’ve stayed in one place so long because we’d had the house built and still love the area of town we live in, which is ten minutes north of downtown Atlanta. With so much reconstruction needed, we got the bright idea to remodel at the same time, first by hiring an architect to design an open floor-plan on the main level, filing for a construction permit and hiring a general contractor. We chose to remain living in the two rooms and one bathroom on the upper floor not destroyed by the water. We have a family; Rick and I, and our four dogs, two of which are senior, so we felt displacement for them would prove too traumatic. Lord, what a mistake that was! What was estimated to take three-four months at most ended up being nine months later when finally had our belongings and undamaged furniture returned to our home from storage.

Our business remained very good throughout the summer, but the stress of our living situation, and the need to be home for various contractors coming and going a daily basis impacted my goal of working out at the gym, and I slowly began to slack off. The summer brought good news, however. With the contract nearing the end of its term for my Lammy Finalist, gay police-procedural novel, Pretty Boy Dead, I also decided to pitch it’s continued publication to Lethe Press. To my great surprise, Steve Berman offered a contract for not only the debut novel in the Kendall Parker Mystery series, but the second novel as well, titled The Deadwood Murders. Release is currently slated for late summer 2017. In the new edition Pretty Boy Dead received a fresh edit, and a new cover designed by the wonderfully talented, Elizabeth Leggett. Pretty Boy Dead was released by Lethe Press in November 2016 in both e-book and paperback. The novel is being recorded in studio for release in audiobook. Stay tuned for the release date in early 2017!

The year end on a high note as we are now settled into our “new” home, sales of Prince of the Sea and Pretty Boy Dead are going well, and we made it through a brutal presidential election cycle! Heading into 2017, I am steadily working on finishing The Deadwood Murders, drafting notes to a sequel for Prince of the Sea, and eagerly looking forward to sharing the release date of an exciting anthology edited by multi-talented Lori. L. Lake titled, TIME’S RAINBOW, in which a story I wrote is included. In this new anthology, contributors wrote our gay ancestors back into history by telling stories about people who managed to find a way to influence their worlds. Alexander the Great was quite clearly gay – surely there were others around him whose stories could have been told, but were suppressed. Bayard Rustin was an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement in the US – until he was discovered to be gay and removed from the forefront. Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote the song “America, The Beautiful,” was definitely a lesbian. Ther must be a story told about her, or the people close to her and influenced by her. How about all the young quasi-trans women who fought in the Civil War, and whose stories have not been told? Stay tuned for an announcement of the release date!