In His Own Words: a Self Reflection – Victor J. Banis

The self-reflective autobiography below was written in 2008 by author, Victor J. Banis when interviewed by Friend, Author, LQBTQ Reviewer & Prolific Blogger, Elisa Rolle for her online journal: Reviews and Ramblings. Reprinted here with permission. *Thank you, Elisa!*

Upon learning of the death of her friend, Elisa Rolle posted to her blog the following: (Victor) was a good friend and he deserves to be remembered. I met Victor J. Banis online back in 2006, when Gay Romance was blooming, but Victor was already a legend, the first author to be put under trial for publishing a Lesbian romance 42 years before in 1964. Publisher’s Weekly credited him with “the master’s touch in storytelling,” and the Nashville Banner echoed that with, “a master storyteller.” Eminent scholar and critic D. Wayne Gunn called him “a national treasure.” Thomas L. Long, editor-in-chief of the Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, said he was the “godfather of modern popular gay fiction,” and William Hewitt, professor of gay studies at Westchester University, referred to him as “one of the Grand Old Men of Gay Fiction.” Cultural historian Michael Bronski calls him “one of (his) heroes” and credits him as one of a quartet of writers “who pioneered what we now call gay and lesbian literature.”

Victor Jerome Banis, 81, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, died Feb. 22, 2019.

Author Victor Banis

Victor J. Banis is a writer.”

Yes, I do see it is a bit terse, but it seems to me to cover the salient points well enough. And yes, I do realize I could add adjectives—say, Victor J. Banis is a wonderful writer.

I am an introvert, however. It is an ordeal, to say the least, to read my own material aloud to other people, as some writers enjoy doing, let alone toot my own horn. Anyway, I have long believed it is better to be more than you seem. It is so much nicer, as an example, to mention to others your “little shack in the woods,” and let them discover for themselves that it is really a country estate, than to tell them about your “country estate” and have them discover that it is really a shack in the woods. So, no, I’d rather not tell you how wonderful I am as a writer, lest you decide afterward that I am only “a shack in the woods” and not the estate you envisioned.

I suppose I could let others tell you. I have certainly received plenty of praise over the years. Publisher’s Weekly credited me with “the master’s touch in storytelling,” and the Nashville Banner echoed that with, “a master storyteller.” Eminent scholar and critic D. Wayne Gunn called me “a national treasure.” Thomas L. Long, editor-in-chief of the Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, said I was the “godfather of modern popular gay fiction,” and William Hewitt, professor of gay studies at Westchester University, referred to me as “one of the Grand Old Men of Gay Fiction.” Cultural historian Michael Bronski calls me “one of (his) heroes” and credits me as one of a quartet of writers “who pioneered what we now call gay and lesbian literature.”

Hmm. Very nice, of course, and pleasant to bask in, but it seems to me a dreadful burden to bear, since I must measure every word I subsequently write against such fulsome praise. I am reminded of a friend who once looked at a particular photograph of me and said that I looked so good in it that I should never be seen in person again. I have an uneasy feeling when I read those reviews that perhaps I should quit where I am—if only I weren’t having so much fun.

And, since those little blurbs mentioned above, some of them, at least, touch upon the subject, I suppose I ought to talk about my gay writing history.

I have no embarrassment in doing so, and my only reluctance is my reluctance to label myself a “gay writer,” since in fact gay writing has been only a part of my literary output, and not the larger part. I think that I did sit down in the earliest days of my career to write gay novels (I think, because it was so very long ago), but I have long since ceased to think in terms of genre or subject matter or even style. I don’t think today I can even correctly say I write “stories.” I write people. They come to me and talk to me—often I literally hear them whispering in my ear—and they are who they are, and I don’t get to dictate whether they are gay or straight or Martian, anymore than I would with the person next to me on an airplane. They tell me their stories, these visitors, and I think it would be presumptuous of me to try to tell them what their stories should be, or how they should be written, let alone that they must fit into some preconceived “genre.” So, just a writer, then, and not a “this writer” or “that writer.”

On the other hand, if I have had an appreciable impact upon the world of books and writing, it is certainly in the genre of gay publishing, where I have become something of a cult figure over the years and a hero to some writers and critics.

That was not something I planned. I’m afraid my writing career has been rather a haphazard thing, to tell the truth. I suppose as much as anything, I was the right person in the right place at the right time. To be honest, I suspect much of history happens that way.

Victor J. Banis – Giovanni’s Room

In 1963, Fresno, California publishers Sanford Aday and Wallace de Ortega Maxey were sentenced to twenty-five years in federal prison for distributing obscene material, some of the material in question being gay-themed paperback novels.

In 1964, I was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute obscene material, this for my first novel, The Affairs of Gloria (Brandon House, 1964), which had no sexually explicit words or phrases, but did contain one “damn,” and, more to the point, a couple of very tepid lesbian scenes.

Clearly, in the early sixties, the U. S. Government thought that writing about or publishing books depicting homosexual behavior, male or female, was in and of itself obscene, and they meant to stamp it out.

That is not to say that there had not been books before which addressed the subject of homosexuality. The publishing world of the time did not have a specific code, like the Hayes code in Hollywood, but there was a sort of tacit understanding that homosexual characters must be portrayed as naughty, naughty people, doing wicked, wicked things, for which they must be punished by the final chapter, either by death or by a miraculous conversion to heterosexuality. A publisher portrayed homosexuals in a positive light, or gave them happy endings, at his own peril, as Misters Aday and Maxey—and I—learned to our grief. I had ten years in federal prison hanging over my head; not the cheeriest of prospects for a young, pretty (if I do say so myself) and certainly effeminate gay man.

I was acquitted (on a technicality) of the charges brought against me, but I continued for several years to be the target of governmental harassment. My mail, e.g., was routinely opened and left at my doorstep atop the envelopes, so I would be sure to know that it had been read. Yes, Virginia, it was and is illegal.

Surely, in bringing charges against me for what they certainly knew was my first novel, the governmental censors must have intended in part to discourage me from writing any more.
The irony of all this is that Gloria had been written on a whim, as a lark, really—the old “Gosh, I could do this” business. Probably, I would never have gone on to write any more books in this vein. It was my ambition to be a “serious” writer (I don’t think I know now what that is) when I grew up (I don’t know now what that is, either.)

I was outraged, however, by what had been done and was still being done to me, and to the constitutional guarantee of free speech, and being bullheaded by nature, I thought—perhaps a bit foolishly, in retrospect—that I would “show them.” Far from being dissuaded from writing more sexy paperbacks, I felt obligated to give it a few more whirls.

The problem was, I had many friends who were lesbians but I personally was not, so the books I could write in that vein were unhappily akin to the faux-lesbian books popular then and mostly written by heterosexual males for the pleasure of other heterosexual males.

What I wanted to write were gay novels; and after the Aday and Maxey convictions, there was little enthusiasm on the part of publishers for material of that sort; and the potential popular gay market had not yet been tapped. “Who would buy them?” publishers asked repeatedly.

Authors Victor J. Banis & Lori L. Lake

Undeterred, I wrote my gay novel, The Why Not, and after a time it fortunately landed on the desk of Earl Kemp at Greenleaf Classics. Greenleaf had not done any gay material up till then, and Earl himself was resolutely heterosexual and, as he himself has admitted, really quite ignorant of the gay world and especially of gay fiction. He was, however, an iconoclast, and firmly committed to battering down the barriers to sexual expression in print, and he was happy to take on the anti-homosexual forces as well. Greenleaf published The Why Not, it sold well, and got good reviews, and Earl indicated that he was amenable to seeing something more.

By this time, however, I had become a gay activist, and I began to look askance at that “sad-young-men” school of gay writing, in which, I regretted to admit, I now included The Why Not. When I read it again, I was dismayed to realize that there was hardly a happy character or incident in the book. Mostly it was gloom and doom.

Now, it is true, gay life in those early years could be painful, burdensome, and dangerous; but in dwelling exclusively on those aspects of our society, I thought those books, mine included, were essentially dishonest. I decided that I wanted to write a book about a happy homosexual who remained happy, and alive, and gay, in the final chapter.

The result was The Man from C. A. M. P., a spy spoof featuring agent Jackie Holmes, who worked for a super-secret organization, C. A. M. P., dedicated to the protection and advancement of homosexuals everywhere.

I think Earl Kemp must have blinked and gasped when I sent him the manuscript. I am convinced that there was not another editor in the U. S. of A. at that time who would even have considered publishing that novel; but gamely publish it Earl did, and the rest is truly a part of gay history.
Delighted gays took to this new kind of offering like ducks to the village pond. The book sold phenomenally well, so much so that an entire series of books followed, eight more Jackie Holmes adventures, and several spin offs.

More importantly, having seen that the market was far greater than anyone heretofore had imagined and that gays were enthusiastically receptive to books that portrayed them in a positive light, Earl and Greenleaf published over the next several years a variety of gay material in just about every genre imaginable: mysteries and histories and comedies and sci-fi and adventure and cowboys and sailors, the whole gamut of gay experience—no, make that human experience. Many of those books were written by me or by writers that I tutored, and for whom I became a de facto agent. It was joked in the industry that the gay publishing revolution had mostly happened around my kitchen table, and there was more than a little truth in the statement. At one time, some seventy-five to eighty percent of the gay novels being published were written by me or by my protégés.

In short order, other publishers became aware that Greenleaf was making lots of money catering to this “new” market, and they soon enough jumped on the bandwagon, and a revolution in gay publishing was truly and irrevocably launched. In the ten years leading up to 1966, when The Why Not appeared, there were only a few dozen genuinely gay novels published. In the decade that followed, there were thousands, some say as many as ten thousand. A revolution indeed. And many historians believe that it was this explosion of gay publishing that first led to a sense of community among gays, and so was a major contribution to the larger social revolution that followed.

L-R: Authors Zam Maxfield, Ethan Day, William Neale, Victor J. Banis
Philadelphia, PA 2008
photo courtesy Rick R. Reed

So, yes, I can look back with I think justifiable pride in having played a part, if a minor one, in opening doors to gay writers in particular and breaking down barriers in expression for writers in general. The freedom mainstream writers enjoy today springs directly from that publishing revolution of ours. It would be dishonest of me to pretend that I do not take some gratification from that fact.
On the other hand, the C.A.M.P. books and the scores of gay books that came after them were, on balance, only a small part of my total output. At the time I wrote them, I was just starting out on what has proven to be a far longer and more felicitous career than I would have imagined then.

I have written in all somewhere close to one hundred and fifty books (I stopped counting long ago), and many short pieces as well, under a variety of pen names. From 1970 until just the last couple of years, none of them were gay oriented, though I now find myself turning back to those roots and enjoying rediscovering them.

So, how does one neatly summarize that sort of checkered career? Really, I think I had it right to begin with, and I’m going to stick with that:

“Victor J. Banis is a writer.”

In Memorandum: by Gerard Koskovich

In memoriam Victor J. Banis (1937–2019): A prolific author of pulps, porn, queer fiction and nonfiction under his own name and numerous pseudonyms including Don Holliday, Victor Jay, J. X. Williams and Jay Vickery.

Banis died February 22 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where he had lived since 2004. He was 81 years old.

A longtime resident of Los Angeles (1960–1985) and then San Francisco (1985–2004), Banis published his first short story in 1963 in the Swiss homophile journal Der Kreis. He went on to write heterosexual, bisexual and gay erotic fiction for Brandon House, Greenleaf Press and Sherburne Press.

From 1966 to 1968, Banis produced eight pulp fiction titles in his “Man From C.A.M.P.” series — a fabulously queer takeoff of the “Man From UNCLE” television series. The protagonist of the novels is a brazenly gay undercover agent named Jackie Holmes.

Banis also wrote pop sexology titles, including the one seen here, which is part of my personal library: “Men & Their Boys” (Los Angeles: Medco Books, 1966). The author inscribed this copy when I met him at an event at A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco in the early 1990s.

The book consists largely of somewhat racy case histories featuring quotes from interviews. This genre became highly popular with erotica publishers in the late 1960s, and I have always wondered if the cases were merely (im)pure fiction — so I once sent Victor a Facebook message to pose the question.

He very generously replied with the lowdown on the book, the publisher and the case histories, which, he said, were based on stories of people he knew or knew about — and on his own experiences: “I did try to keep everything authentic.”

Farewell to one of our pioneering creators of American queer popular culture. To learn more about his work, read his saucy memoir, “Spine Intact, Some Creases” (Wildside Press, 2008), readily available online in a print-on-demand edition for around $20.h

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA — Victor J. Banis, 81, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, died Feb. 22, 2019.Born May 25, 1937 in Alexandria, Pennsylvania to William and Anna (Wing) Banis, he was preceded in death by brothers William M., Albert, Robert (Dick), and Sam and sisters Eva Huddleston, May Crouse and Ruth Nance.He is survived by his brother Pat of Cincinnati, and sisters Fanny Kisling of Eaton, and Anne Blackmore of Wadsworth, and numerous nieces and nephews.Victor grew up in the Eaton area and was a 1955 graduate of Eaton High School. Having lived in several areas of the country, he eventually settled in California where he pursued his writing career. He was the published author of more than 250 books in several genres, The Man From C.A.M.P. being his most well known. A man of great wit and intelligence, he will always be remembered as a wonderful storyteller.A memorial celebration is being planned for the spring. Memorial gifts may be made to the Hospice facility of choice.

Exclusive Excerpt: Killer Instinct: A Lesbian Thriller by Barbara Winkes


Joanna was about to dispose of the printouts still scattered over her desk when her phone rang. She half feared it could be Grace again, half hoped Theo would get back to her with news, but of course it was too early for that. The connection was too vague for him to get a warrant, so he’d have to tread carefully.

Much to his credit, he hadn’t commented on the fact that she couldn’t give him a last name. There was no name on the door, and in her emails and text, it only said GracieL. Theo would have to do the rest, but she figured it wouldn’t be too hard.

“You apartment isn’t that big,” Kira said. “Why aren’t you picking up the phone?”

Because I’m afraid it could be a serial murderer on the other end…

“Sorry,” Joanna mumbled. “What can I do for you?”

“Call every once in a while? You’re doing it again.”

Kira had been the closest she’d had to a friend in prison, and surprisingly, she’d kept in touch, even after being released eight months earlier. Life could take surprising turns, and not all of them were bad, at least for people other than Joanna. Kira had found a kind man, the father of two boys, and married him less than two months ago. She often tried to convince Joanna to come to dinner, but Joanna wasn’t comfortable around all that newfound happiness. Mostly, she thought her presence made others unfomfortable. Not Kira—she knew her friend understood completely what her reality looked like. The husband and kids, Joanna wasn’t so sure. She felt like every time she was over, he was beyond wary.

“I’m not doing anything. In fact, you’ll be glad to know that I reconnected with an old colleague.”

“Vanessa doesn’t count. You two have a sick relationship.”

“Thank you so much, and no, I wasn’t talking about Vanessa. I saw Theo, my old partner. He’s talking to me again, which is a major improvement. Another officer let me talk to a witness once I laid on the charm.”

“I don’t understand. What are you doing with a witness? You unload trucks and lift palettes for a living—which, I’d like to say, is not such a bad thing. I thought that part of your life was over, and you were okay with it.”

“It’s a long story.”

“You could come over and tell it to me.”

“I don’t think Coby would approve.”

“Coby likes you,” Kira protested. “Besides, he’s not here tonight, and neither are the boys. I’ve got Merlot and chocolate chip ice cream. As much of it as you like.”

“You’re trying to bribe me?” Joanna didn’t need much more. She was already in her coat.

“Works every time, doesn’t it? I miss you.”

“Miss you too. I’ll be over there in ten.”

Instead of staring at the walls, waiting for Theo’s call and hoping her gut had betrayed her, she would see Kira, and toast to the future.

Yeah, right.

Sticking to her promise, Kira greeted Joanna with a hug and then served her ice cream and wine. It had become something like a ritual for them after Joanna’s release, even after it became clear that Kira and Coby were serious, and moved in together.

“This is so good. Thank you. I needed that.”

“I’m glad I could help. You said you had a story to tell.”

Joanna figured that halfway through her glass, she couldn’t back out now.

“All right. You heard about the woman who ran away from a man who abducted her, and was found by a truck driver?”

“Yeah, I heard about it. What’s that got to do with you?”

“I saw her in the hospital today.”

“You did what?” Kira exclaimed. “Are you crazy?”

“The case is similar to one I once worked. I had to speak up.”

“Going to the hospital is not the same. Honey, do you realize that any defense lawyer will just love to jump on the fact you were anywhere near her? You’re famous. You killed a murderer. As unfair as that might be, I don’t think your colleagues want to be seen with you, and sadly, they have a point. Someone will make the connection.”

“Theo said something like that,” Joanna admitted. “Damn, I had hoped for some support from you.”

“This is the way I offer support,” Kira indicated the delicacies on the table with a sweeping gesture, “and by telling you the truth. You can’t be involved. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger.”

Joanna finished her glass and reached for the bottle.

“It might already be too late for that.”

Before she could elaborate, the vibration of her cell phone indicated the arrival of a text message.

“Excuse me.”

Once upon a time, she had known what to do, without hesitating, without doubt. After the brief conversation with Theo, Joanna felt confused. Relieved, too. Grace had apparently fully cooperated, told the cops she’d broken up with the boyfriend and apologized again for the text messages. More important, she had an alibi for the night Christina Danvers had hooked up with the couple.

Christina had confirmed that she’d never seen Grace before.

Something had been off about her. Joanna didn’t think her instincts would betray her so badly. She shook herself. She should be grateful that she had avoided adding another nightmare to the ones that never went away.

“Are you okay?” Kira asked when she returned to the living room.

“Yeah. It’s actually good news. Forget what I said earlier—it’s not all that dramatic. All of you were right. I should stay far away from that case.”

Kira poured them both another glass.

“Hey, better late than never. Let’s drink to that. You should fall in love too.”

“Uh, no. It’s doesn’t work that way for everyone.”

“Because you have commitment issues. You panic when someone calls you back.”

“That’s not true.” Was it? Was there a possibility that there was something wrong with Joanna instead of Grace? Oh, the possibilities were endless. “Look at my life. Who would want to get caught up in that mess?”

Kira laid an arm around her shoulders. “Last time I checked, you cleaned up that mess pretty nicely. Back on the inside, you could’ve gotten caught up in all kinds of bad stuff, but you stayed out of it. You have a job that pays for a roof over your head and more booze and cigarettes than you should have.”

“I sense some criticism coming on.”

“Just give it a chance sometime, won’t you?”

Joanna took another spoonful of ice cream.

“I like fewer complications in my life. Simple pleasures, you know?”

“I really don’t know. You hook up with some bizarre people. That’s the only part you haven’t quite figured out yet.”

You don’t know the half of it, Joanna wanted to say. Then again, she hadn’t been so great at relationships before she and Decker crossed paths. For some things, she had no one to blame but herself.

“Maybe there’s nothing to figure out. I get by.”

Purchase here:

Author Barbara Winkes Bio:

Barbara Winkes writes suspense and romance with lesbian characters at the center. She has always loved stories in which women persevere and lift each other up. Expect high drama and happy endings.
Discover a variety of genres, serial and standalone. Women loving women always take the lead.

Breathless (A Corey Shaw mystery Book 1) by Alex Morgan


Corey found the local police chief and a forensic team from Hyannis on the sandy shore below the wooden deck of the Boatslip, one of the most popular spots in Provincetown. The size of the hotel meant that many guys were in one place and near the crime scene. Not good. The Boat Slip’s afternoon tea dance brought even more people crowding onto the outside deck, which also served as a dance floor. Even now, several men peered over the railing at the activity on the beach below.  Soon, more would follow.

Police Chief Richard Stewart greeted him as he checked in with the officer guarding the scene.

“Damn! You didn’t waste any time getting here, Shaw,” Chief Stewart said, looking at his watch. “Where were you when I called? Orleans?”

“Close enough,” Corey winked at his friend.

“Are you ever going to tell me how you move around the state so fast?”


Chief Stewart shook his head and led Corey to the corpse.

“John Doe. Strangled,” he said. The grim look on his hard-lined face told Corey that something had rattled the chief’s staunch reserve. “And he was tortured before being killed.”

Having had frequent contact with the chief in the past, Corey had never seen him so shaken by a crime.

As they knelt next to the victim, the chief pulled back a tarp covering the naked body of a young man lying face down in the sand.

He pointed out disturbing aspects of the murder. “Rope burns on the ankles, wrists, knees, and across the chest and upper arms where he was tied up. The deep cuts indicate that the bonds were tight.”

He motioned toward the buttocks. The man had a narrow waist and a well-rounded ass, which had been slashed many times. Long gashes crossed the tanned cheeks, drawing blood that had long since dried.

“Looks like he was caned or severely whipped while he was tied up,” the chief continued. Similar slashes covered his back and legs, but not as severe as those on the ass.

“This has been done to him before, hasn’t it?” Corey asked.

“What do you mean?” Stewart gave him a quizzical look. He glanced at one of the forensics agents who knelt down on the opposite side of the body. “Corey, this is Carolyn Seger from the Massachusetts State Bureau of Investigation.”

Corey shook hands with her.

“You’ve got a good eye,” she said, directing their attention to several old wounds concealed and healing among the fresh ones.

Judging by the look on the chief’s face, Corey surmised that he hadn’t experienced anything like this in Provincetown before.

Carolyn picked up the story where Stewart left off. “From the angle of the rope wound around the neck, it appears that the victim was hung until dead. There are very few signs of a struggle, which is strange.”

Hmmm…maybe not so strange, Corey thought.

She pointed to the bruising on the neck. “The visible side of the face appears purple, a gruesome contrast to the white skin of his shaved head.” She frowned while mumbling the latter under her breath. “Look at these.” The agent indicated to marks crisscrossing his back. “It appears he was wearing a leather…” She hesitated, as if searching for the right word.

“Harness,” Corey finished. “I have one that’s almost the same as the one he wore. Do you think it played a role in his death?”

Seger shook her head. “Preliminary indications all point to strangulation by hanging.” She looked at him. When his eyebrows furrowed in concentration, she asked, “What is it?”

He pointed to faint, red markings on the back of the victim’s neck that resembled the ones on his back. “It looks like he wore a leather collar, as well.” He shifted his position to lean forward.

“We noticed that, too, but I don’t think it contributed to his death, either.”

“Can we turn him over?” The agent nodded and donned plastic gloves. With the help of another forensic team member, they rolled the corpse on its back. The hideousness of the crime became more apparent. The entire face, covered in purple blemishes, was contorted into a grimace as he had struggled to breathe in his last few seconds of life. His tongue protruded grotesquely from the mouth. Corey’s gaze shifted lower. All the pubic hair was shaved away.

“Look at this.” Seger’s eyes widened at the new discovery. “There’s scabbing just above the penis, and it seems as though it goes all the way around the scrotum. Something’s irritated his skin because it’s broken out and re-healed, like the marks on his posterior.”

“He wore a cock ring,” Corey said and added, “I have that same trouble if I wear mine too long.” Eager to contribute to the investigation, he’d let out more personal information than the chief or agents wanted to hear. To divert attention from his momentary lack of discretion, he took another tack. “Are you sure this was murder?”

“What else could it be?” The chief’s jaw clenched.

“I’m thinking it could be an extreme BDSM session that went a bit too far.”

Chief Stewart and Carolyn stared, jaws dropping.

“In all my years in Provincetown, I’ve never heard of something like this, and I’ve heard and seen some pretty weird shit.” The chief shook his head.

“Many guys have execution fantasies, where the only way they can get off is to experience a near-death situation. In such a case like this, execution by hanging,” Corey explained. “The victim is hung to the point when he comes and then is released by the ‘executioner.’” He used his fingers to form quotation marks in the air. “This might have been one time when the executioner didn’t move fast enough.” He paused for a few seconds. “Or wouldn’t.”

“You mean this guy let someone hang him to death?”

“No,” Corey replied. “More than likely, he just wanted to experience a high similar to the choking game that’s somehow gotten to be popular. But here, instead of doing it himself, he got a bigger rush by having someone do it for him. The idea is to release the rope or garrote before death. It’s an incredibly dangerous game.”

“So this could just be a tragic accident?” Seger asked.

Corey held out his hands in supplication. “Perhaps. Otherwise, we may have to look for a guy who has to kill to get off. But there’s something odd here.”

“What?” The chief sounded as though he didn’t think it could get any stranger.

“Whether or not his death was accidental, where are his harness, collar and cock ring? If his executioner didn’t kill him on purpose, why remove his accouterments? Or if it was intentional, a murderer would’ve dumped the body and not worried about removing everything, unless he left his DNA on everything.”

“Maybe the leather belonged to the executioner and he took it back?” Chief Stewart said. “You know, like a master/slave thing?”

Corey considered that explanation for a minute. “Perhaps, but not likely, I would think. Cock rings are more personal items, and since they’re relatively cheap, guys buy them for themselves or someone they’re romantically involved with.”

“Could this be a lovers’ spat?” Carolyn asked.

“I hadn’t thought about that, but you may be right. And the murderer removed everything to keep as mementos, or because they had a sentimental value?”

“Some serial killers do that, too,” Chief Stewart muttered. Corey and Carolyn looked at him. “They will take something from each of their victims as a trophy.”

“Or the harness could hold some concrete evidence to the identity of the murderer,” Corey mused. “Something other than his body fluids.”

More about author, Alex Morgan:

Alan Scott (aka Alex Morgan) was born and raised in western Oklahoma. He majored in chemistry in college and moved to Dallas to get his master’s degree. Later he received a PhD in analytical chemistry. He now lives in the Baltimore area.

He has been an avid reader, particularly mysteries, after being introduced to the Hardy Boys in grade school. After reading his first Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in junior high, mysteries have been one of his biggest enjoyments. He has always enjoyed reading comic books and loves the super-hero genre just as much.

Combining these two concepts, he has written four mystery novels introducing gay, paranormal sleuth Corey Shaw. Under the pen name Alan Scott, he has written a novel continuing the paranormal detective series with “Inside Passage to Murder” and the forthcoming “A Faire Day for Murder.”  He is also the author of several gay erotica short stories.

Commentary, Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway! Drama Castle (Nicky and Noah Mysteries Book 7) by Joe Cosentino


Nicky and Noah Mysteries Book Seven: Drama Castle

by Joe Cosentino

As a teenager suffering from insomnia, I spent many late nights on my passion (It’s not what you think)—reading cozy mystery novels. I loved the quirky characters, plot twists and turns, clues, red herrings, captivating investigations, romance, humor, and of course the surprise yet justified endings. Even at that young age, I suspected Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were more than companions. They seemed to understand each other as only a couple could, and their devotion to one another was heartwarming. Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings seemed to share the same level of commitment. C. Auguste Dupin and his nameless companion, Lord Peter Wimsey and his valet Meryn Bunter, and Inspector Morse and Detective Sergeant Robbie Lewis exhibited similar close connections. It didn’t take me long to question why there were no openly gay characters in my favorite mystery series. So, I created my own. Since I am a college theatre professor, I decided to explore that wacky and wonderful world. (Try saying that three times fast with a tongue ring.)

For those of you who haven’t yet been baptized in Nicky and Noah land, the Nicky and Noah mysteries is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning faster than a priest going to altar boy orientation (as Nicky would say). At the center is the touching relationship between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. We watch them go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other (as we fall in love with them). Reviewers called the series hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and captivating whodunits. One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! (Love her!)

In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) Nicky directs the school play at Treemeadow College—which is named after its gay founders, Tree and Meadow. Theatre professors drops like stage curtains, and Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in Nicky’s bodybuilding competition at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective, Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with his husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. In Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, Taavi, and Martin. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel.

My spouse and I had vacationed in Alaska and Hawaii. Hence the settings of books three and four. Since we recently stayed in a real Scottish Castle, I knew book seven would take place there. So, in Drama Castle, Nicky is directing a historical film co-starring Noah and Taavi at Conall Castle in Scotland: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt It’s Time for A Scotch. Rounding out the cast are members of the mysterious Conall family who own the castle. When hunky men in kilts topple off the drawbridge and into the moat, it’s up to Nicky and Noah to use their acting skills to figure out whodunit before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. Nicky and Noah are joined by their best friends and fan favorites Martin and Ruben, and by Noah’s eccentric parents. Book seven adds a number of captivating new characters like Brody Naughton, the hunky head of Housekeeping with a red beard and roving eye for the oldest Conall brother, Barclay, and for Donal Blair a waiter in the castle’s Great Hall dining room. Each of the three hunky Conall brothers (Barclay, Magnus, and Fergus) have a surprising secret, and Noah makes a shocking revelation.

I am joyous and honored to join the other wonderful writers who post in this group as we share our gay mystery stories. So take your seat. The curtain is going up on steep cliffs, ancient turrets, stormy seas, misty moors, malfunctioning kilts, and murder!

DRAMA CASTLE (the seventh Nicky and Noah mystery)

a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO


Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a historical film at a castle in Scotland, co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, and their son Taavi. When historical accuracy disappears along with hunky men in kilts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is pitching residents of Conall Castle off the drawbridge and into the moat, before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining seventh novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on steep cliffs, ancient turrets, stormy seas, misty moors, malfunctioning kilts, and murder!

Exclusive Excerpt:

Wearing a canary polo shirt that highlighted his olive-colored skin and black hair, Taavi looked adorable with his legs dangling off the high bed. “Grandma and I explored the castle.” His dimples appeared. “I found a secret passageway.”

“A sleuth, like your dads,” Dad said.

“And like your grandfather,” Mom added.

 Taavi wiped his palms on his sky-blue shorts. “I can’t wait to shoot my scenes.”

Noah smiled. “Will you steal them from me?”

“That’s the plan.” Taavi offered his father a hang loose sign and a huge grin.

Mom said, “Judy was very impressed with our little Taavi’s acting in that slasher film you all did last year.”

“As she should be,” Dad said as if he were Taavi’s agent.

“Judy said that little Dung’s chocolate coloring would show up well on film.”

“Too bad Tommy and Timmy aren’t in the movie business like our Nicky and Noah,” Dad said.

Mom and Dad laughed together triumphantly.

I noticed a gold necklace around Dad’s neck as it danced over his flabby chest. “I’ve never seen that before, Dad.”

He stuck out his already protruding stomach. “What, my sexy physique?” Dad winked at Noah. “I may be giving you a run for your money tonight, Noah.”

Noah’s scarlet cheeks turned crimson.

I walked over to Dad. “I mean your necklace.”

“He’s worn that thing around his neck since I met him,” Mom said.

Taking it in my hand, I admired the fine craftsmanship of the gold two-leaf clover.

“It’s really a four-leaf clover,” Dad explained, “but the other two leaves broke off.”

“Where did you get it?”

“In a little shop on a glen in a valley in the highlands of Scotland. A year before I met Mom, I visited the land of my ancestors to find my roots.”

 “While I was covering up mine with peroxide,” Mom said with a smile.

“But my ancestors didn’t come from a place like this.” Dad explained, “They were sheepherders.” The dairy farmer added, “Milking is in my blood.”

“So is high cholesterol from all the cheese he eats,” Mom said as if speaking about a death row criminal.

Dad patted his stomach. “I like food.”

“Me too, Grandpa.” Taavi patted his stomach too.

“Did you all eat dinner?” Noah asked with concern showing on his handsome face.

Mom nodded. “A sweet young waiter named Donal served us in the dining room.” She giggled like a young girl. “He paid extra attention to me.”

“Were you jealous?” I asked Dad.

He waved me away like a color guard on speed. “Donal was a nice-looking guy. But he reminded me of you and Noah, if you know what I mean.”

My father-in-law developed gaydar?

Taavi’s dark eyes glistened in delight. “We ate cock-a-doodle-doo soup, blood pudding, green fish, and bread for short people.”

As if a United Nations translator, Mom said, “Taavi means cock-a-leekie soup—”

Okay, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s a soup with chicken, bacon, leeks, and spices.

Mom continued, “—black pudding—”

Get ready to be grossed out. It’s pork fat, pork blood, oatmeal, and oat and barley groats.

“—scallops with cabbage and green apple sauce, and shortbread.”

“I texted all my friends from school. I can’t believe we’re living in a real castle!”

Giveaway: Post a comment below about why you love men in kilts. The one that raises our kilt the most will win an Audible code for the Drama Queen audiobook, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe.

Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…

Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews

“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews

“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

“This delightfully sudsy, colorful cast of characters would rival that of any daytime soap opera, and the character exchanges are rife with sass, wit and cagey sarcasm….As the pages turn quickly, the author keeps us hanging until the startling end.” Edge Media Network

“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers

“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books

“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance

“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift,The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland with Holiday Tales from Fairyland, the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings (NineStar Press);andthe Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

Web site:





GIVEAWAY: Post a comment below about why you love men in kilts. The one that raises our kilt the most will win an Audible code for the Drama Queen audiobook, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe.

**Winner must have an active account to receive**

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Exclusive Excerpt: Southern Most Murder by C.S. Poe


Aubrey Grant lives in the tropical paradise of Old Town, Key West, has a cute cottage, a sweet moped, and a great job managing the historical property of a former sea captain. With his soon-to-be-boyfriend, hotshot FBI agent Jun Tanaka, visiting for a little R&R, not even Aubrey’s narcolepsy can put a damper on their vacation plans.

But a skeleton in a closet of the Smith Family Historical Home throws a wrench into the works. Despite Aubrey and Jun’s attempts to enjoy some time together, the skeleton’s identity drags them into a mystery with origins over a century in the past. They uncover a tale of long-lost treasure, the pirate king it belonged to, and a modern-day murderer who will stop at nothing to find the hidden riches. If a killer on the loose isn’t enough to keep Aubrey out of the mess, it seems even the restless spirit of Captain Smith is warning him away.

The unlikely partnership of a special agent and historian may be exactly what it takes to crack this mystery wide-open and finally put an old Key West tragedy to rest. But while Aubrey tracks down the X that marks the spot, one wrong move could be his last.


Burt Tillman was not too tickled to see Jun. Or me. In fact, he probably could have gone the whole day without even thinking of either of us.

“Agent Tanaka,” he said, offering a stiff handshake. “I am in the middle of a homicide. I hope you understand my time is precious.”

“I’ve no intention of taking you away from your case,” Jun replied. “It so happens that Mr. Grant and I ran into a few of Cassidy’s friends this morning and gathered a bit of information that might be of value to you.”

Tillman eyed Jun, glared at me, then nodded and turned to lead us down a hallway. We entered a large room that had several desks with plain-clothed officers sitting at them. Each had towering piles of papers spread across their workspace, and a phone seemed to always be ringing from somewhere. Tillman walked toward the back, grabbed two plastic chairs, and hauled them up in front of what I presumed was his desk before he sat behind it.

Jun and I both took a seat.

“So?” Tillman asked.

Jun took over this part, and I was only more than happy to let him. Keep this between lawmen, you know?

“We spoke with a few people down at Barnacles today. Curtis Leon, Peg Hart, and Josh Moore.”

Tillman nodded, rolling a pen between his thumb and index finger.

“Seems that Curtis was already aware of Cassidy’s death.”

“Yes, he was having breakfast with Glen Porter, Cassidy’s employer, when I went down to speak with Glen.”

“Were you aware they are amateur treasure hunters?”

“I vaguely knew,” Tillman replied. “I know Peg—she owns her own boat. I’ve heard a few stories about the four of them going out to search for sunken treasure.”

Jun leaned back in his chair, crossing his long legs and seeming completely at ease. “Peg mentioned a diary that Cassidy had, about Captain Rogers.”

Tillman narrowed his eyes. “I’m not familiar with this man.”

“He was captain of a merchant vessel from 1854 to 1871,” I piped up.

Tillman looked at me. “Let me guess. The skeleton is Rogers and he killed Cassidy?”

“I think the skeleton might actually be Smith,” I corrected. “Thanks, though.”

Jun cleared his throat.

I didn’t roll my eyes, but man, I came close to it. “Cassidy got the diary because it mentions Smith and One-Eyed Jack supposedly being one and the same, and I told you yesterday how hell-bent he was about proving me wrong. The point is, that diary was stolen a year ago from a museum in St. Augustine.”

“I suspect a man that’s stolen from at least one museum, with the intent of perhaps stealing from Aubrey’s,” Jun began, “likely has more than one hot item in his possession.”

Tillman looked down at his mass of paperwork, thoughtful. “We’ve been to his apartment. Nothing like an old diary was found.”

“I know an Agent Dixon in Miami who works with the Art Crime Team,” Jun stated. “I’m sure she would be more than happy to assist.”

Tillman sat back in his chair. “This St. Augustine museum would first need their local law enforcement to submit an entry to NSAF.”

Tillman knew more about FBI policies than I did. Check.

Jun smiled. “Of course. But I’m sure with a few phone calls, I can get the ball rolling, considering the situation down here. What do you say, Detective?”

Ha, ha, ha, checkmate.

Tillman frowned.

“I’m not looking to take over or interfere with your case,” Jun stated. “I’m only here for a week and half, and when I leave Aubrey, I want to sleep at night knowing that he’s not being harassed or in danger at his place of business. That’s all.”

Tillman looked between the two of us.

I nodded and offered a smile.

After a beat, Tillman let out a heavy sigh and shifted some of his papers around. He picked up a small evidence baggie that held a key fob. It was bright orange and seemed to have some sort of room number on it. “We found this in Cassidy’s apartment. It belongs to a unit at Store Yourself in New Town.” He offered it and Jun accepted.

“What’s the chance of getting a search warrant?” Jun asked, turning the fob around absently.

Tillman smiled this time and held up a form. “Just got it, twenty minutes ago. Cassidy has a record of theft. Appears he’s been obsessed with this pirate Jack guy most of his life.” He stood. “As a courtesy to you, Agent Tanaka, and because I’m not well versed in the diaries of merchant sailors from the 1800s… I’ll extend the offer of you being present while I serve this. Unofficially, of course.”

“Of course.” Jun stood, and they shook hands again. “I suppose we’ll bump into each other there. It just so happens that Aubrey is qualified to offer assistance regarding anything you might find in the unit.”

Tillman looked at me. “That he is,” he said tersely.

We’d followed Tillman from Stock Island to New Town and parked outside of Store Yourself about thirty minutes later. Jun turned the car off, leaned over me to unlock the glove compartment, and revealed a gun and holster.

“Whoa, you came to Florida packing?”

Jun looked at me briefly before grabbing it. “I don’t go anywhere without a service weapon.”

“Even on vacation?” Because I found that sort of… sad.

Jun didn’t respond, just put the shoulder holster on. He opened the door and said, “Would you grab the suit coat in the back seat?”

I partially climbed over the console to reach the folded G-man coat before getting out of the car. “You came prepared.”

Jun adjusted his weapon as he came toward me, took the coat, and hid the gun as he slid it over his shoulders.

“You think there’s something dangerous inside the unit?” I asked, looking up.

“I’d rather not take any chances. Stay behind and out of the way, okay?”

Tillman climbed out of his car beside us and removed the folded warrant from an inner pocket before leading the way.

“Regarding Josh Moore,” Jun said, the scuff of his shoes on the pavement echoing over his words. “Aubrey hired him to paint the first floor of the Smith Home. He finished that two weeks ago.”

“Is that so.”

“It might account for the broken window in the parlor,” Jun continued.

Tillman stopped and turned to face Jun.

“He’s similar in appearance to the description Aubrey gave of the second intruder.”

Watching Jun work Tillman was pretty awesome. I think his good-cop thing was making it difficult for Tillman to even be properly annoyed, since Jun was technically helping. Just, you know, sort of passive-aggressively.

“I don’t suppose he shared yesterday’s whereabouts with you?” Tillman asked.

“He did not.”

Tillman looked at me briefly before nodding and walking toward the business once more. “I’ll look into it.” He opened the front door, held it for us, then approached the counter. He flashed his badge at a disinterested woman.

“I’ve a search warrant, ma’am,” he said, sliding the form over. “Unit 513, belonging to a Lou Cassidy.”

She chewed her gum loudly, popping a bubble while glancing over the legal form—like anyone actually read that mumbo jumbo. “Fine with me,” she stated after a moment. “He’s a week late on payment. Will the police be paying that?”

Tillman just smiled. “Do you have bolt cutters?”

She sighed and got to her feet. “Yup. Head on through that door,” she said, indicating a door to our right. “Unit 513 is down the middle aisle on the left side. I’ll be there in a moment.”

“Appreciate it,” Tillman said, and I swore if he had a hat on, he would have tipped it.

Jerk never used his hat-tipping voice on me.

Then again, I had been sort of a sassy smartass with him the last few—er, all the meetings we’d had so far.

Jun opened the door leading to the units, holding it for Tillman and me before bringing up the rear. “I must admit,” he said quietly. “Curiosity is getting the best of me.”

“You and me both,” Tillman called. “Man’s apartment is a shrine to all things nautical. I can only guess as to what’ll be in here.” He stopped outside an orange door about four by four feet. He looked at me and Jun. “I’ll be disappointed if it’s Christmas decorations.”

The office door opened behind us and echoed loudly as it slammed shut. The woman from the counter was walking toward us with a hefty pair of bolt cutters. “Here you are, gentlemen,” she said, handing the tool over to Tillman. “Please don’t make a mess. I’ll be in the office if you need anything.”

Tillman thanked her and waited until she’d slammed the door again. He took the clippers to the combo lock on the door, quickly snapping it. He slipped it free and pocketed the lock pieces before setting the cutters down on the floor.

Jun took my arm and gently maneuvered me to stand behind him. He removed his gun and took a readied stance as Tillman yanked the door open.

The missing skeleton from yesterday came tumbling out, breaking as it smashed into the linoleum floor.

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More about author C.S. Poe

C.S. Poe is a Lambda Literary and EPIC award finalist author of gay mystery, romance, and paranormal books.
She is a reluctant mover and has called many places home in her lifetime. C.S. has lived in New York City, Key West, and Ibaraki, Japan, to name a few. She misses the cleanliness, convenience, and limited-edition gachapon of Japan, but she was never very good at riding bikes to get around.
She has an affinity for all things cute and colorful and a major weakness for toys. C.S. is an avid fan of coffee, reading, and cats. She’s rescued two cats—Milo and Kasper do their best on a daily basis to sidetrack her from work.
C.S. is a member of the International Thriller Writers organization.
Her debut novel, The Mystery of Nevermore, was published by DSP Publications, 2016.

Contacts for C.S. Poe


Exclusive Excerpt: The Cuban Who Paid Dearly (Daytona Beach Book 3) by Frank W. Butterfield


It’s Thursday morning, the 2nd of October in 1947, and Ronnie Grisham and his pal, Tom Jarrell, are now married… To women, of course…

And, for appearance’s sake and to get a much-needed break from work, Ronnie figures they really should go on a honeymoon.

So, the two couples board the southbound Champion for Miami. It’s all aboard for romance! But not in the way their fellow passengers would imagine, no doubt.

Once there, they get a chance to see Miss Doris Day, who is touring with Les Brown and his Band of Renown. And a good time is had by all!

But all good things must come to an end and, after dropping the gals off at the airport, the guys rent a car and hit the Overseas Highway to head down into the Florida Keys.

Just when it looks like Tom and Ronnie will finally get some time to themselves, a friend of theirs comes across a dead Cuban and is found holding the gun. He says he didn’t do it, but the State’s Attorney isn’t convinced…

Looks like it’s back to work for Daytona Beach’s most infamous lawyer and his private dick!


The Blue Parrot was at the end of a little alley off Fleming Street. The only indication of the place was a blue electric light bulb over a white door with a blue parrot painted on the front. Ronnie was only able to find it because Tom had run into the jail and asked Claud where it was and then ran out with the address. Turned out that it was only a couple of blocks away.

Ronnie pulled open the door and was greeted with the sound of Perry Como singing, “When You Were Sweet Sixteen,” a song that Ronnie had mixed feelings about. He liked the man’s voice and liked to listen to his singing on The Chesterfield Supper Club program on the radio. His voice was smooth and could, at times, get him in the mood. But the song reminded Ronnie of his first meeting Tom because Tom was 16 at the time they met. That had always been a melancholy memory. But, as he moved into the dimly lit bar, he grinned as he realized it wasn’t melancholy anymore. There was no doubt the two were in love with each other and Ronnie was more in love with Tom than ever.

Grinning like a goddam fool, Ronnie walked up to the bar. Looking around, he realized he was only one of four people in the place. A couple, two gals, were sitting in the back at a booth, side by side, and seemed to be whispering sweet nothings to each other.

The other person was the man behind the bar. He was about 5’9″ or so and had a head full of thick graying blond hair that was slicked back with a heavy dose of pomade. He had a friendly expression and bright blue eyes. Wearing a starched white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, open at the neck, and under a bright blue apron, the man walked over. “Are you one of us?” asked the man as he looked up at Ronnie.

With a grin, Ronnie replied, “If you’re wonderin’ whether I prefer Joes over Janes, I do.”

“Welcome, then. What’ll you have?”


“Comin’ right up.” The man’s voice had a slight Irish accent to it.

Ronnie parked himself at the bar and looked around. It was a small place but friendly, clean, and inviting. He’d been to a similar kind of spot a few weeks earlier in West Palm Beach, but it wasn’t nearly as clean or as welcoming. It had been more like a spot to be ashamed of.

The man placed a bottle of Jax in front of him along with a bowl of peanuts. “Where you in from?”

“Daytona Beach,” replied Ronnie as he took a drink of the cold brew.

“Nice place up there. Love that flat beach where you can have a nice stroll. Dodging the cars can be a little tricky, though,” he added with a smile.

“I drive up and down there all the time, but I try to keep my eyes out for any tourists who don’t realize the beach is a road.”

“Good man. What brings you to Key West?”

“Well,” said Ronnie as he picked up a couple of peanuts, “I’m down here with my guy.”

“Lucky man, he is.”

“I don’t know about that.” He popped the peanuts in his mouth and then asked, “Are you Johnny Donahue?”

“The one and the only.”

Ronnie extended his hand across the bar. “My name is Ronnie Grisham.”

“Call me Johnny,” said the man as he shook with a wink.

“And I’m Ronnie.” He leaned in. “Claud Wallace asked me to come over and talk to you about Benny Ibanez.”

Johnny’s smile faded. “I see.”

“What can you tell me about Benny?”

Screwing up his mouth, Johnny looked hard at Ronnie. “And what might your interest be in the matter?”

“I’m trying to find whoever it was who really killed Benny.”

Author Frank W. Butterfield:

Frank W Butterfield

Frank W. Butterfield is the Amazon best-selling author of over 20 books and counting in the Nick Williams Mystery series, stories about Nick & Carter, a private dick and a fireman who live and love in San Francisco.

To learn more about Frank W. Butterfield’s novels, Nick & Carter and their ongoing adventures, click here for his website.