7-Year Anniversary Celebration: Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Facebook Group Giveaway!

In celebration of the upcoming SEVENTH Anniversary of the GAY MYSTERY-THRILLER-SUSPENSE FB Group, we’ll be drawing for lots of FREEbies that include e-books, audiobooks and signed copies of previously featured LGBTQ+ Mystery/Thriller/Suspense novels exclusively offered to our devoted members! 

word murder written with an old typewriter

Everyone gets a chance to WIN! Either via frequent drawings held beginning on June 13th, 2020 through December 31st, 2020.

Random items to be offered via drawings:

  • e-books galore!
  • Selected Signed Print Books
  • Paperback Books
  • Omnibus (first three books of a series) – choice of e-book or print
  • FREE Audible Audiobook Codes (US/UK)
  • Lots of $10 Amazon Gift Card(s)
  • Entire Set of a Series – choice of e-book or print
  • Cover Design – (offered to an Author winner)
  • PRIDE SWAG (trinkets/small gifts)
  • Limited-Edition Sheet of USA Dinosaur Stamps (hologram!)

Contributing Authors & Members: Authors John Morgan Wilson, Mark McNease, Rick R. Reed, Ann Aptaker, Garrick Jones, Marshall Thornton, C.S. Poe, Jeffrey Round, Gregory Ashe, Barbara Winkes, Joe Cosentino, Neil Plakcy, Brad Shreve, Jon Michaelsen, Frank W Butterfield, John Copenhaver, cover artist Dawne Dominique of DuskTilDawn Designs and LGBT Imprint ReQueered Tales (w/Matthew Lubbers-Moore, Justene Adamec & Alexander Inglis) have contributed to this year’s Special 7-Year Celebration giveaways!

HOW TO WIN – RULES & REGULATIONS

It’s so easy to win!

Just follow the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Facebook Page for numerous DRAWINGS to be offered FREE from now until October 31st, 2020. Lots and Lots of giveaways, including author swag, GLBTQ+ retail items celebrating PRIDE Month of June, trinkets, e-books, FREE Audible audiobook codes, and SIGNED copies of some fantastic print novels by our author/members!

Enter to WIN! 

Entering a drawing is so simple by following the posted link for your chance to WIN! Winners are selected randomly by Rafflecoper at the end of the posted drawing. All entrants agree to provide a valid e-mail address and mailing address for raffle winnings delivery and/or mailing of the winning prize. 

PLEASE NOTE: – Your entry also authorizes Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group and ReQueer Tales permission to use your email and/or mailing address for the purposes of sharing new releases, promotions, and mailings. Not providing your information will void your entry. Your private e-mail and mailing address will remain secured, private, and exclusionary. Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group and ReQueered tales will never sell, gift or provide your private information to third parties. 

IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

How Long Before the Winner is announced?  

There are over 80+ novels (e-book, print & audiobook) to be given out from now and leading up to the 7th anniversary of Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group in September and beyond until the end of the year. We want to give every member in the group to have the chance to see all drawings posted, so typically giveaways will last two to five days, depending on the activity in the group. Following the group closely between now and the end of the year will provide you with the most chances to win! 

A FEW (BORING) RULES:

  • Only Members of Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB group can enter drawings; all members are eligible, including authors, as they are readers/fans of the genre, too! 
  • Members can enter as many drawings as possible, but please be mindful our goal is to reward as many members as possible throughout the celebration, so multiple-winning members may be avoided unless participating in a particular giveaway dictates otherwise. 
  • Please Do Not Forward this announcement or the rules of the FREE giveaways/drawings to non-members, as they are not eligible to participate–even in joining the group the same day. Though I welcome all new members to the group, the 7th-anniversary celebration is meant to thank and reward all the current and active members who have been loyal to the group over seven years. New members may be eligible on a case-by-case basis when taking into consideration the date of membership. 
  • Non-USA contiguous members may receive an e-book alternative in substitute for a print version of a book due to the costs of postage. Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB group is a non-profit, non-revenue fan-based group. We do not have the funds for postage outside the country of origin and/or where the author has advised. Winners may offer to cover postage costs of print books if preferred. 
  • Substitutes may be available but are not guaranteed. Any remaining print books on hand will be donated to the library of Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization whose mission is getting homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths up to age twenty-five off the streets and transition them into more permanent housing.

TITLES OF ALL BOOKS FOR DRAWINGS/Giveaways!

(1) signed copy of Simple Justice (Benjamin Justice #1) by John Morgan Wilson

(5) e-book copies of Beautiful Corpse (a Marshall James Thriller) by Mark McNease

(1) e-book copy The Man from Milwaukee by Rick R. Reed

(1) A signed copy of (voucher) Cantor Gold book, MURDER AND GOLD, releasing for Spring/Summer 2021 by Ann Aptaker

(2) Signed copies of Pretty Boy Dead by Jon Michaelsen

(2) Signed copies of The Deadwood Murders by Jon Michaelsen

(1) A signed copy of Time’s Rainbow: Writing Ourselves Back into American History (Volume 1) – ed; Lori L Lake & Christopher Hawthorne Moss

(1) A signed copy of a new psychological thriller by Garrick Jones

(5) FREE Audible codes for Desert Run by Marshall Thornton

(2) FREE Audible codes for The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One), US & UK code by C.S. Poe

(2) FREE Audible codes for Southernmost Murder, US/UK code by C.S. Poe

(1) A signed copy of a novel by Jeffrey Round

(3) Audible codes (US or UK) – Book #1 Borealis Investigations, ORIENTATION – Gregory Ashe

(1) FREE Audible code (UK Only) for Killer Instinct by Barbara Winkes

(1) FREE Audible code (UK ONLY) for The Amnesia Project by Barbara Winkes

FREE e-book for every member to download by Barbara Winkes

(1) FREE Audible code for Drama Queen (#1 Nicky and Noah Mystery) by Joe Cosentino (US/UK Only)

(5/5) FREE Audio copies of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert (US/UK Only) by Neil Plakcy

(5) FREE copies of the omnibus version (first three books) Mahu Mystery series) – reader’s choice of format (choice e-book or print) by Neil Plakcy (the US Only)

(5) FREE copies of the omnibus version (first three books) Have Body, Will Guard Thriller series – reader’s choice of format (e-book/print) by Neil Plakcy (US Only)

(1) A signed copy of A Body in a Bathhouse by Brad Shreve

(1) A signed copy of A Body on a Hill by Brad Shreve to the same winner

FREE e-book cover design for an author by cover Artist Dawne Dominique of DuskTilDawn Designs 

(1) A signed copy of Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver

(1) FREE Audible code (US Only) of Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver

(1/1) FREE Audible codes (US / UK)) of The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter: Book One) by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(1) Complete signed copy of the entire Snow & Winter (Books 1-4: US Only) by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(1/1) FREE Audible codes (US / UK) of Southern Most Murder by C.S. Poe (Carroll Poe)

(2) Signed copies of Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

(5) FREE Audible Codes Pretty Boy Dead by Jon Michaelsen

(5) FREE Audible Codes Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

LGBT Imprint ReQueered Tales – (1) copy of STEAM by J.B. Laws; (1) Copy of Like People in History by Felice Picano; (1) Copy of Let’s Get Criminal by Lev Rapheal; ONXY by Felice Picano

(1) FREE e-book copy of Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith

(1) A signed copy of Fire on the Island by Timothy Jay Smith (Europe Only)

(3) $10 Amazon Gift Cards offered by Meg Perry (Rachel Owens)

Exclusive Excerpt: FIRE ON THE ISLAND By Timothy Jay Smith

Excerpt:

They stripped, and Nick followed the naked young man onto the beach. Moonlight fell across his shoulders and showed his buttocks flexing as he picked his way across the pebbles. In a short distance, they came to the whitewashed walls of an ancient hammam. Oblong, it had a vaulted roof and a rounded snout that jutted into the sea. The wind-driven waves crashed against it. Takis planted his hands on its side and stepped into the cold rough water.

“Where are we going?”

“Just follow me!”

Immediately drenched, and quickly waist deep in the churning sea, they had to struggle to stay upright. The water knocked them one way while the undertow dragged them the other. When they’d worked their way around to the other side, they crawled onto a stone landing and collapsed, wracked with shivers, elbows tucked under them for warmth. “You call this a hot bath?” Nick finally managed to say.

Takis blindly dropped a hand on his back. “Just wait.”

Nick shook his hand off, and Takis, wondering why, saw his scars. “You were in a fire?” he asked.

“I should’ve warned you. It’s why I usually don’t get naked on a first date.”

“Your scars won’t bother me.”

“They bother me.”

“Maybe a hot bath will change that.” Takis stood up. The hammam’s short door was unlocked and he stooped to step through it.

Nick followed him.

Warm dank air instantly enveloped them.

“Don’t move until your eyes adjust to the light,” Takis cautioned as he closed the door behind him. “You don’t want to fall into it.”

“Fall into what?”

Moonlight streaming through round vents in the curved ceiling revealed the black pool. Rectangular, it stretched the length of the hammam, and the steam rising from it smelled faintly of minerals.

“I promised you a hot bath,” Takis said. “I also promise, you’ll never take a hotter one.”

He sat on its edge, stuck his legs out and bobbed his heels in the water.

Nick sat next to him. The flagstones felt cool on his bare skin. He copied Takis and stuck out his legs, but the first time he bobbed his heels, he retracted them. “Holy shit that’s hot!”

Takis laughed.

“You actually put your body into this?”

“The trick is to go in slowly. Very, very slowly.”

“The trick is not to go in at all!”

“That’s the problem with very very slowly.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ll end up not going in at all.”

In the next instant, Takis slipped into the pool up to his neck. His chest heaved from the shock.

“How did you do that?”

“You have to come in, too.”

“No way.”

“If you want to have sex tonight, you will.”

“What? Are you blackmailing me?”

“I won’t sleep with a man who hasn’t had a bath.”

“I have a shower back in my room.”

“We’re not going back to your room.”

Again Nick tested a heel in the water. “I can’t believe this doesn’t melt flesh.”

Without warning, Takis grabbed his foot and pulled him into the water.

Nick flailed, and yelped.

“Are you okay?”

“No! I feel like the meat in cannibal soup!”

“Sit very still. The more you move, the hotter it feels.”

“I’m surprised I can move at all. You’re used to this?”

“I know what to expect.”

“And you’re crazy enough to still do it?”

“Afterwards, you feel great.”

“Afterwards, I’m not sure I’ll be able to feel anything.”

“Run your fingers over the water. You’ll see how it feels even hotter.”

“Who wants it hotter?”

“Just try it.”

Nick did, and it did feel hotter, but he was getting used to it. Takis, too, drifted his fingers on the water’s surface, and their hands touched. Fingers entwined, they pulled each other into a tentative kiss that became a long one. With lips trying to stay together, they crawled onto the cool flagstones, hands venturing where their mouths would later explore.

Blurb:

FIRE ON THE ISLAND is a playful, romantic thriller set in contemporary Greece, with a gay Greek-American FBI agent, who is undercover on the island to investigate a series of mysterious fires. Set against the very real refugee crisis on the beautiful, sun-drenched Greek islands, this novel paints a loving portrait of a community in crisis. As the island residents grapple with declining tourism, poverty, refugees, family feuds, and a perilously damaged church, an arsonist invades their midst.

Nick Damigos, the FBI agent, arrives on the island just in time to witness the latest fire and save a beloved truffle-sniffing dog. Hailed as a hero and embraced by the community, Nick finds himself drawn to Takis, a young bartender who becomes his primary suspect, which is a problem because they’re having an affair. Theirs is not the only complicated romance in the community and Takis isn’t the only suspicious character on the island. The priest is an art forger, a young Albanian waiter harbors a secret, the captain of the coast guard station seems to have his own agenda, and the village itself hides a violent history. Nick has to unravel the truth in time to prevent catastrophe, as he comes to terms with his own past trauma. In saving the village, he will go a long way toward saving himself.

A long time devotee of the Greek islands, Smith paints the setting with gorgeous color and empathy, ushering in a new romantic thriller with the charm of  Zorba the Greek while shedding bright light on the very real challenges of life in contemporary Greece.

More about Author Timothy Jay Smith

Raised crisscrossing America pulling a small green trailer behind the family car, Timothy Jay Smith developed a ceaseless wanderlust that has taken him around the world many times. En route, he’s found the characters that people his work. Polish cops and Greek fishermen, mercenaries and arms dealers, child prostitutes and wannabe terrorists, Indian Chiefs and Indian tailors: he’s hung with them all in an unparalleled international career that saw him smuggle banned plays from behind the Iron Curtain, maneuver through Occupied Territories, represent the U.S. at the highest levels of foreign governments, and stowaway aboard a ‘devil’s barge’ for a three-day crossing from Cape Verde that landed him in an African jail.

Tim brings the same energy to his writing that he brought to a distinguished career, and as a result, he has won top honors for his novels, screenplays and stage plays in numerous prestigious competitions. Fire on the Island won the Gold Medal in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel (for unpublished novels), and his screenplay adaptation of it was named Best Indie Script by WriteMovies. Another novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland, published in 2019 by Arcade Publishing, was a finalist for Best Gay Novel in the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. Previously, he won the Paris Prize for Fiction (now the Paris Literary Prize) for his novel, A Vision of Angels. Kirkus Reviews called Cooper’s Promise “literary dynamite” and selected it as one of the Best Books of 2012. 

Tim was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. His stage play, How High the Moon, won the prestigious Stanley Drama Award, and his screenplays have won competitions sponsored by the American Screenwriters Association, WriteMovies, Houston WorldFest, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Fresh Voices, StoryPros, and the Hollywood Screenwriting Institute. He is the founder of the Smith Prize for Political Theater.

Exclusive Interview with Randy Fair, author of Southern. Gay. Teacher: a Memoir

Where do you live throughout most of the year?

Wilton Manors, Florida. It is sometimes called “the gay village,” and The New York Times dubbed it, “Gayberry”.

Without getting too personal (of course, we’ll never stop you!), will you share some of your life’s history?

I grew up in Weaver, Alabama, a town of around 2000 people. As a gay boy, I did get some unexpected help from my teachers. I tell the story of my tenth-grade teacher. One day during a discussion of Julius Caesar, a student asked, “Were these people homosexual?” My teacher told us that in Rome bisexuality was commonplace. Someone said, “That’s disgusting.”

Instead of just continuing on with the lesson, she told us about her roommate in college who was a lesbian. I will never forget that someone asked, “Weren’t you worried that she would look at you while you were undressing?” Her simple answer was ground shaking for me. She said, “If she looked at me and thought I was attractive, I would be just as happy as if a man looked at me and thought I was attractive. I know who I am, and I am comfortable with my sexuality.” It was somewhat of a lonely place for a gay man when I graduated from Jacksonville State, I moved the very next day to Atlanta. I have never lived out of the South.

Randy Fair circa 1984

Writers rarely like to toot their own horn. Indulging our readers, how would a gay man of a certain age describe your proudest accomplishments to date?

I do have some things that other people would consider traditional accomplishments like my Ph.D. and the founding of the Atlanta Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Teachers Network, but what I would consider being my greatest accomplishment is the storage box I have of notes and letters from former students telling me that I contributed to their lives.

What on earth possessed you to write your memoirs in your mid-to-late fifties?

When I was a teacher, I tried to be as vocal as I could on this subject. But while I did try to speak out, more often than not, I felt silenced. I think that there are many LGBTQ students, parents, and teachers who still feel like they can’t speak up. Many people aren’t aware that throughout the South there are states that have so-called, “No Promo Homo” laws that forbid discussions of LGBTQ Issues in the classroom. Even in the states that don’t
have these laws, the fact that the neighboring states do have them has a silencing effect. And it’s not just in the South. There are many schools throughout this country that still discourage students from starting Gay/Straight Alliance groups or threaten LGBTQ teachers in order to keep them from coming out. Because ENDA has never passed Congress, teachers can be fired simply for being LGBTQ. Now that I can’t be fired, I wanted to give a voice to the people who can’t speak up.

Retied Teacher Randy Fair

Had you always planned to write about your life as a southern educator in Southern. Gay. Teacher.?

I actually had it in the back of my mind for a lot of my career. At one of the first schools where I taught, I had an incident that put the idea in my head. We had an African- American teacher in the English department who always read her religious poems at the end of each department meeting. One day, I went to my mailbox, and someone had put a religious tract in there telling me that I needed to become saved. I thought it was this teacher, and I went to her room to confront her. She immediately told me to sit down. I had always thought of her as meek, but she was so forceful, I immediately sat down. She told me that she didn’t put the tract in my box, and then, she said, “Look, I know you think I don’t want you here, but that’s not true. I know what you go through every day. I was the first black teacher in an all-white school during desegregation. I would come to my room each morning, and I would see where the kids had written, ’N————— go home.’”. I remember thinking, “Why doesn’t she write about those stories instead of those horrible poems? That’s a story I would like to read.” I guess that’s the first time I realized that someone might want to hear what it was like to be a gay teacher.

Did you plan and strategize your writing process, or fly by the seat of your Florida shorts?

I worked on the book for about seven summer breaks. Each summer, I would reread what I had written and then continue adding to it. It became a pretty sprawling project, and when Nick Courtright at Atmosphere Press decided to publish it, he told me that I would have to cut it down significantly. That process took another six months because there were some changes that the editor I was assigned wanted that I didn’t feel comfortable with. We had to continually work out those issues.

Randy Fair

How did you deal with distractions (i.e., blogs, Facebook, promoting, and real-life, like that daytime job demanding your attention?

Luckily, I had the summer breaks to work on the book, and I didn’t have Facebook. As a gay teacher, I didn’t feel comfortable being on social media until I retired. The students get curious about their teachers, and they will go to great lengths to find out what is going on in a teacher’s personal life. I always felt like I could be fired at any moment, and so I didn’t want to add any other reasons.

Following the release of your memoirs as an out and proud gay southern educator, have you had to deal with any outright homophobia from fellow educators, past or present?

To be honest with you, I don’t think I recognized a lot of the homophobia I was experiencing even while it was clearly going on. I could be pretty radical and obnoxious for a teacher, so I never knew if they didn’t like me because I was gay or if they just didn’t like my personality. Since the book has been out, so far I have had nothing but positive responses.

I’m a good seventy percent complete with reading Southern. Gay. Teacher. I can share I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your personal experiences, especially of those one-on-one relationships with the gay youth of the day. Much has changed in the LGBTQ+ society of acceptance during our lifetimes, and theirs, too. Having (recently reconnected with you) after nearly a forty-year friendship, is there anything you still hope to accomplish before taking that long journey across the Rainbow Bridge?

I feel like this book is one of my last contributions to the LGBTQ cause. I am open to other things coming up as time goes on, so I can’t really say. If I find new ways to help promote the cause, I will definitely pursue them.

Any guilty pleasures you care to share?

Not really. I am pretty boring. Wilton Manors is kind of wide open because it’s a tourist town, and I think most of my friends are surprised by how low key I have been here. I think I did surprise them all on Halloween. It’s a huge holiday for the town. They close the main street down and about 10,000 people show up. I dressed in my leather outfit, and now everyone here tells me that I have a dark side.

On behalf of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense FB Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today by answering our (annoying?) questions…

Last request—What do you hope Southern. Gay. Teacher., can offer to the current generation of gay educators and/or LGBTQ+ kids navigating their way through the educational system of today?

I am especially hopeful of getting teachers and prospective teachers access to this book. I never had any training or discussion in my education programs on LGBTQ Issues, and I had to make it up as I went. I think it would be great for teachers to have a chance to think about these issues before they come up. I also think that the book is good for a general audience. I have been surprised by the number of people who have read it and said that they could relate to these experiences. Many of these people weren’t teachers, and some of them were not LGBTQ. Before the book was published, I guess I never thought that straight people would say, “I have had these same experiences.”

Beautiful Corpse: A Marshall James Thriller (Marshall James Thrillers) by Mark McNease

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER Ten

The Westerly Inn was not an inn at all, but a cheap, ratty motel that had catered to the hourly rate crowd for years. I’d never taken a john there, but I’d heard about the place. Its greatest asset was its anonymity. Questions weren’t asked, and answers were discouraged.

Located near the corner of Western and Franklin, the Westerly looked like all those motels you see along any highway in America, the ones you can’t tell for sure are open, with a car or two parked outside rooms with the curtains drawn across filthy windows. But the Westerly was definitely open for the business of all kinds: hookers, dope dealers, shady transactions requiring alibis. I knew I could get a room there and not worry about being caught on a surveillance camera because there wasn’t one and never would be. The customers may be cheap, but they were plentiful, and they expected to come and go sight unseen.

I pulled my ’79 Mustang into an empty spot near the last room, far from the street. I’d bought the car with savings from my bartending jobs and I was proud of it, despite its dents and dings. It was my sober car. Mac had helped me pick it out, and he’d made sure it was in good working condition. This one didn’t have any stains on the seats from exploding beer cans, or cigarette burns on the carpet. I’d promised myself someday I was going to buy a brand new car, but until then the Mustang was good enough.

The front office of the Westerly was surprisingly neat and clean. There wasn’t much to it—just a desk, a rack of faded tourist brochures to give the place the appearance of legitimacy, and a vending machine with potato chips and candy bars. No one was there when I walked in. I stepped up to the counter and slapped a lonely bell sitting there with nothing to keep it company. A few seconds later an enormous woman appeared from a small dark room behind the desk. She was wearing a tent with faded sunflowers on it. Her hair looked she’d washed it with motor oil, but her teeth were perfect. It was weird, just like the motel.

“Yeah?” she said, leaning against the counter for support. I expected it to topple forward and crush me.

“I need a room for a few days.”

She stared at me as if I’d just told her I was the King of Prussia: nobody stayed at the Westerly for days; they paid for an hour and left after twenty minutes.

“Pay in advance,” she said, almost as a challenge. I knew it was hard for her to believe anyone coming there had enough cash for more than a couple of rocks of crack and a pack of cigarettes. “Thirty-five a night.”

When I took out my wallet, I could see her salivating. I’d stopped at an ATM and taken out a hundred and twenty dollars. The machines were a recent addition to banking, and people were still getting used to making withdrawals through a car window.

“Three nights,” I said, counting out $105. It left me fifteen bucks plus some cash I had in my pocket. I’d hoped it would buy me enough time to find my way out of this nightmare before the cops or the Bianchis tracked me down. Seventy-two hours to live or die, to prove my innocence or be taken away in handcuffs or a body bag, whichever came first.

The cash disappeared into a hand that looked like a small ham with five fingers. From out of nowhere, like some magician in a dive bar, she slid a key across the counter with the number 107 on a plastic tag attached to it.

“Next to the last room,” she said. “The phone doesn’t work, so don’t bother. There’s a payphone across the street.”

I turned briefly and looked out the window, confirming there was indeed a payphone on the opposite side of Western Avenue. When I looked back she was gone.

“You need my name?” I called into the back room.

She laughed. * * *

The room was not as decrepit as I’d imagined. Maybe they wanted the clientele to feel a tiny bit better about themselves and what they were doing there, or maybe it was a way to convince the police and the occasional media presence when a celebrity OD’d that this was a respectable establishment. I don’t know, but the bedspread looked new and when I pulled it down to check for bugs the sheets were clean. There was a night stand on one side with the aforementioned useless phone on it, and a pressboard dresser against a wall. A TV sat on top of it, which meant I could watch the news and see what developments there were in the Danny Bianchi murder. I knew that depended on what information the police were willing to put out, along with any leaks from inside the department. Mostly it was a way to not feel completely alone and abandoned by any sense of fairness. Life wasn’t fair, and death didn’t give a damn.

I decided to rest for an hour or so, just to let myself breathe. I wanted a cigarette. I wanted a drink. I was not going to have either, and lying on the mattress for a while, staring at a nicotine-stained ceiling, was as close to calm as I was going to get.

CHAPTER Eleven

After pretending to sleep for an hour, I made my way across the street to a newspaper and magazine stand. They weren’t an unusual sight then; people got their information and their reading fixes from the printed word, not text on a miniature screen in their hands. If you wanted to know about the world, or about pretty much anything, you had to read words on some kind of paper, or watch television.

I bought a copy of the Los Angeles Times and a pack of gum, then asked the skinny rodent at the cash register for three bucks in quarters if he had them. I couldn’t be bothered with dimes. He said sure, with a fifty cent surcharge. I said okay and left, wondering where he kept his tail.

I was curious to see if there was anything in the paper about the murder. I didn’t think it would be front page news, given where it happened and who it happened to. Gay men dying was getting to be routine, although we were far from the worst of it, and gay men getting killed had always been ho-hum, unless it was somebody famous. But it was probably on page six, or page twenty or somewhere. The victim was part of a notorious family, and he died in a place that was disreputable, to say the least. A gay kid from a mafia clan was sensational if nothing else.

Before I went back to the room and looked through the paper, I had to make a phone call. I’d been thinking of where to start. It couldn’t be with Steven, since I had no idea who he was. And it couldn’t be with Danny Bianchi, whose dead body I’d crawled over at the Sunset Baths less then twenty-four hours ago.

I got lucky the first time when I found the phone booth empty. I got lucky the second time when the phone worked. I dropped a quarter in and dialed information.

“How may I help you?” a woman asked, somewhere on the other end of the line.

“I need the number for the Sunset Baths.”

She didn’t ask me why. She didn’t ask me if I’d heard about the guy who got killed there last night, or if I was the one who killed him. She just gave me a number and offered to connect me.

“Sure,” I said.

The phone rang on the other end. Once, twice …

“Sunset Baths, Cody speaking.”

I didn’t know Cody, from the streets or anywhere else. He sounded young.

“Is Lenny on duty?” I asked. I didn’t know what time Lenny came on shift, or even if he was working that day. Luck struck for a third time.

“Hold on …”

I heard the phone drop and imagined him tossing the receiver on the inside counter. For all I knew, Lenny was sitting next to him, although the booth at the baths didn’t look big enough for two people. A couple moments later Lenny picked up.

“Yeah?”

He didn’t introduce himself but I recognized the voice.

“Lenny, this is Marshall James. I don’t know if you remember me but we met a few times back in the day.”

“Refresh my memory.”

I took it as a good sign: he gave no indication he remembered me from last night, or if he did, he hadn’t connected me to the corpse they took out of the place.

“We got high together a few times,” I said. “Clive Daley’s place …”

Clive had been one of those rich old queens who liked having a gaggle of young men around him, especially at his pool. He was what we used to call a chicken hawk, as long as the chicken was legal or had a fake ID. One of them, or maybe Clive himself, had put an end to the fun when Clive was found face down in his pool one summer day a couple of years ago. I doubt the paramedics even made an effort.

“Did we fuck?” Lenny asked, as matter-of-factly as asking if we’d had breakfast together.

“Not that I recall,” I said. “But it wasn’t personal. I always thought you were cute.”

The truth was, I’d always thought he was contagious. Lenny was pasty. He had the kind of pallor you associate with STDs and too many drugs.

“So why are you calling me, Marshall James?”

I took a deep breath and jumped: “Because I was there last night.”

Silence.

“Fifty guys were here last night,” he said, sounding wary. “I’ll ask you again, why are you calling me? I’m at my job, dude. I can’t take personal phone calls and I don’t deal anymore.”

“I was in the room.”

I could hear him thinking about that a moment, then he asked, “Which room?”

He already knew the answer, he just wanted me to say it.

“Where Daniel Bianchi died.”

“What are you, a crime scene tech or something?”

“No, Lenny. I’m the one they’re looking for.”

I could hear him gasp. “Holy shit! Why are you telling me this? What the fuck do you want from me?”

“I just want to talk,” I said.

“We’re talking, for fucksake. Are you nuts? You told me who you are. What’s to keep me from calling the cops?”

“I didn’t do it.”

That seemed to stump him. Then he said, to no surprise at all, “What’s in it for me?”

“Knowing you helped an innocent man stay that way.”

He laughed.

“A hundred bucks,” I said. “A face-to-face, and twenty-four hours of silence. I’m guessing the cops already talked to you.”

“I made a statement this morning at the police station, on my own time. I deserve a hundred bucks just for that.”

“Fine,” I said, “I’ll give you two hundred.”

He thought about it for a nanosecond, then said, “I can meet you on break. I’ll give you a day, as long as they don’t call me in again or show up with more questions. I can’t lie for you. That’s, like, an accessory to murder or something.”

“I told you, I didn’t do it.”

“Whatever, dude. It’s three o’clock now, I’ll meet you at five at Rudy’s.”

Rudy’s was a coffee shop two blocks from the baths. For all I knew, he’d call the police as soon as we hung up and there would be three cruisers waiting to swoop in and apprehend me when I strolled into Rudy’s. It was a risk I had to take.

“I’ll see you then,” I said.

Click. Just like that, he hung up.

I stared at the street through the phone booth. I’d taken out my limit at the ATM and would have to go to the bank branch for cash. I hoped there wasn’t some all-points bulletin out on me yet. I needed every minute I could get to stay ahead of the hounds sniffing for my scent. Lenny was a start.

CHAPTER Twelve

Rudy’s was a coffee shop before coffee shops were ubiquitous. Starbucks hadn’t taken over the planet yet and the craze for local java joints was a few years away. Back then we had Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, diners, gas stations with small markets attached, and a few places like Rudy’s.

 I’d driven over with one eye on the rearview mirror. Paranoia had set in, which was not irrational for a man being framed for murder. I had no way of knowing what the police knew or how close they were to identifying me. It kept me on edge, and I almost ran two red lights on my way from the Westerly to Rudy’s, with a nerve-wracking stop at the bank where I worried the teller was going to ask me to wait a moment while she told the branch manager there was a fugitive from justice at her window. That didn’t happen, and a half hour after leaving my barely-appointed room, I was sitting in a booth at Rudy’s.

There wasn’t much of an afternoon crowd. Rudy’s had been a deli before it was a coffee shop, and it was in the midst of an identity crisis. They still sold sandwiches, with the addition of muffins, stale cookies, and coffee that tasted day-old. I got a cup from the teenage slob working the counter, took it to a small round table and waited for Lenny. He was running late.

I was starting to think he’d stood me up, or maybe set me up and any second I’d hear a voice over a bullhorn telling me to come out with my hands in the air, when Lenny walked in. He looked exactly like he’d looked the night before, except he’d changed his T-shirt—this one had the name of some band called the Red Hot Chili Peppers on it. They were just catching on at the time. It wasn’t my kind of music.

He recognized me instantly, partly because we were the only customers in the place. He hurried over and slid into the booth across from me.

“You want some coffee?” I asked. “It’s on me.”

“No, thanks, I don’t have much time.”

In the daylight I could see he hadn’t aged well, which was saying a lot for someone who wasn’t more than twenty-five or so. We were barely out of our teens when we’d met at one of Clive Daley’s pool parties. Those days had been a haze of dope and booze, essential social lubricants for boys in the life. They still are, and Lenny looked like he hadn’t had a break from them since he was twelve.

“Where’s the cash?” he asked.

I glanced around as if anyone there would see me or care, then I yanked my wallet out and pulled out two hundred dollars in twenties. He nearly leapt off his seat, leaned over and snatched the money from me, slipping it quickly into his pants pocket.

“I remember you now,” he said, relaxing a little once he got the payoff. “Last night. You were fucked up.”

I felt my anger surge, and just as quickly suppressed it. It would not serve me well to yell at him.

“I wasn’t fucked up,” I said. “Somebody dosed me.”

“With what?” He sounded disbelieving.

“I don’t know, some drug. Then he got me in a room with the dead guy. That’s where I came to and how I ended up in this mess.”

“Whatever you say.”

“Its not what I say. It’s what happened, Lenny, and I need answers.”

“I don’t have any answers!” he said. “At least I didn’t until now.”

It occurred to me that I’d just given him information he could sell. The cops wouldn’t pay him, but the Bianchis certainly would—or they’d just put a gun to his head and tell him to start talking. It was a gamble, and I had no choice at the moment but to be a gambling man.

“What did you tell the cops?” I asked, knowing he’d given them a statement.

“What I knew,” he replied, “which wasn’t much. I didn’t mention you because I didn’t connect you to Danny.”

My eyes widened. “So you knew Danny Bianchi?”

“Everybody did. He was a party boy. Sloppy, I must say. We also knew who he was. I mean, the whole Bianchi thing. You didn’t fuck with him, and if he wanted something, he got it.”

“Was he in the life?”

“Danny? Hell no. He didn’t need to sell his ass. He was on some kind of allowance, from what I heard.”

“Did his family know he was gay?” I asked.

“How would I know? Probably. Maybe that’s why they gave him money, so he’d do his gay thing and stay away. I’m speculating, I have no idea. Ask his boyfriend.”

That threw me back. Danny Bianchi had a boyfriend. So what was he doing at the baths? Ask yourself that, Marshall, I thought, before stopping myself. I didn’t need the introspection at the moment. Open relationships weren’t unusual, then or now, but maybe the boyfriend was involved somehow—or not. Maybe the boyfriend didn’t know about Danny’s little trips to the baths. Or maybe the boyfriend did know, and he didn’t like it one bit. In fact, he hated it so much he decided to stop Danny from ever going to the baths again. But if that was the case, where did I fit in? Was I just the fall guy? Had I been in the wrong place at the right time and nothing more? And who was Steven?

“What’s his name, this boyfriend?” I asked.

“Nick somebody,” Lenny said. “I really gotta go. I told you I didn’t know anything.”

“Was he there last night?”

“Who?” Lenny said, impatiently. He slid toward the edge of the booth.

“The boyfriend, asshole!” I said, unable to help myself. “Focus, Lenny. I just paid you two hundred dollars.”

“To keep my mouth shut,” he hissed, “and I will, alright? I won’t say anything to anybody.”

“Provided they don’t ask,” I qualified.

He shrugged: maybe he’d talk, maybe he wouldn’t. It depended on what was in it for him.

“Listen,” he said, “I got there, like, an hour before you stumbled out. I switched shifts with Carlos, his aunt died or something, whatever. I wasn’t working when all this shit went down, you understand? I didn’t see Danny, I didn’t see the boyfriend, and I didn’t see you until it was too fucking late. I wish I hadn’t. The Bianchis are bad news, and somebody’s gonna pay for killing their kid.” He stood up. “If I was you, I’d head to Mexico. Seriously, dude, you’re in a bad situation.”

I looked at him. “Please don’t make it worse, okay? Call out sick if you have to, have some fun with the cash you didn’t have before you walked in here. Just give me some time.”

“I’m a man of my word,” he said, then he hurried out of the coffee shop.

A man of his word whose words were for sale. I told myself it was just business, nothing personal. Lenny didn’t really know me, and I had no interest in ever knowing him. But I had more to go on than I’d had when I got there. The key was Danny Bianchi, and I was about to disturb his ghost.

About the Book:

Click here to purchase

This is the second installment in the Marshall James Thriller limited series. It’s been over a year since Marshall first became intimately familiar with murder. He’s six months sober now and living with the love of his life, LAPD Detective Mac McElroy. Despite the coming storm of AIDS and its devastating toll on the world Marshall knows, his dark days seem to be behind him. Then one night he says the wrong thing, storms out in anger, and walks straight into a nightmare. Someone is setting him up to take the fall for a beautiful corpse. Within hours he finds himself running from the police and the mob, and running toward a killer he must apprehend before the only chance left is no chance at all.

The audiobook edition will be released this coming August, narrated by the marvelous Sean Rhead. The third and final book in the series will be out in 2021. You can find me at MarkMcNease.com, and feel free to join my email list HERE.

Beautiful Corpse is currently on Amazon only as part of Kindle Unlimited, available in July on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books. Amazon link:

About Mark McNease

Mark McNease is the author of nine novels, six produced plays and dozens of short stories. Two of his Kyle Callahan Mysteries were best sellers on Kindle, and his short story ‘Stop the Car’ was selected as a Kindle Single. He won an Emmy and Telly as a co-creator and writer for the children’s program ‘Into the Outdoors’ and currently lives with his husband and two cats in rural New Jersey.

Exclusive Excerpt of the non-fiction memoir: Southern. Gay. Teacher. by Randy Fair

Exclusive Excerpt:

STEVEN

This idea that even heterosexual students needed to know about gay issues was further reinforced for me a year later with a student who I will call Steven. Steven was in the senior class for students who didn’t intend to go to college. At the time, we even called the class “Non-college Bound Senior English.” Steven was a great student and very mild mannered, especially for that class. He never caused any discipline problems.

At the very end of the year, he suddenly started acting out. In the middle of class one day, he said loudly, “I hate faggots.” I replied, “Steven, you know you are not allowed to use that word in this class. Don’t do that again.” The next day, he did the same thing. Once again, it happened almost exactly in the middle of the lesson. I said, “I have already warned you about that, and if you do it again, I am going to turn you in to the administrator.”

The third day, he did the same thing, and I turned him into the administrator. Because I knew the administrators were extremely homophobic themselves, I wasn’t surprised that the administrator took no action, but I was surprised when Steven made it a point to come in the next morning to tell me that the administrator didn’t give him any punishment. When he told me this, I said, “Well, since the administrator didn’t give you any punishment, you can just come in for detention with me.” I didn’t expect him to show up. He was a senior with only two weeks left before the end of the school year. We both knew that if he didn’t show up for the detention, nothing would be done.

I was surprised when he did show up on the morning of his detention. He even came early, getting there before I even arrived. Realizing that he wanted to tell me something, I asked him why he continued making those statements when I told him to stop. He said, “You want to know why I hate faggots?” I first said, “Don’t keep using that word, and yes, go ahead and tell me.” He surprised me with his reply when he said, “My father is a faggot, or as you say a gay man, and he left my mother when I was born to run off with his boyfriend. I haven’t seen him in years, and now, he wants to go to my graduation. That’s why I hate faggots.”

We spent the next thirty minutes talking about his father. While I assured him that it was understandable that he would be angry with his father, I asked him to think about what it must have been like for his father to be gay in the mid-seventies when Steven was born. By the time Steven left, I could tell that while I hadn’t solved his problem, he did at least get to talk about it with someone. This is something he wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone other than a gay man.

As with Mary, I realized that he deliberately brought up this subject in my classroom because he wanted to have a conversation about it. He could have brought this up in another teacher’s classroom, and not only would his comments have been allowed, they would very likely have been supported. He wanted someone to give his father’s side of the story. This isn’t to dismiss or excuse his father’s lack of involvement, but I think that Steven wanted some explanation, and he wanted some movement towards a future where he might be able to forgive his father.

This was another reminder to me that we shouldn’t remain silent on these issues, but at that time, I was a little uncertain what to do about this silence. June often referred to me as “the voice crying in the wilderness.” The obvious need for discussion around this topic conflicted with the almost tacit conspiracy on the part of the school system and society to prevent any discussion of the topic. I pointed this conspiracy out whenever I got the chance. For example, when the school system was adopting a new literature textbook series, I asked the salesman why none of the lesbian or gay authors were identified as lesbian or gay in their biographies. I pointed out that the biographies of heterosexual authors always listed the partner of the author. The salesman thought I was crazy. He quickly told me, “These textbooks are published in Texas, and we have to appeal to people in Texas since they are one of the biggest school systems in the country. Do you really think anyone in Texas would buy these books if we put that information in there?”

Blurb:

The South as a region has proven to be resistant to the idea of LGBTQ teachers. Some Southerners, including prominent politicians, have gone as far as asserting that it should be against the law for LGBTQ people to teach. This memoir chronicles the changes that Randy Fair witnessed in his over forty years of experience, both as a teacher and student, in the school systems of the South.

Full Disclosure: My longtime friendship with the author, retired educator, Dr. Randy Fair

I met Randy Fair during Atlanta’s Gay heyday during the early 1980s shortly after his move from Alabama. We meet through mutual friends–where else but in a gay bar? Shortly after, I ran into Randy almost everywhere I went out partying in the evenings, and occasionally, at a house party for mutual friends, or we’d run into each other during our normal course of this thing called, ‘life’.

Randy Fair – 1980s
Jon Michaelsen – 1980s

Though Randy knew me by my legal name at the time, we were attracted to one another, but he and I never confided our interest (until our late 50s!) for the other all those years ago, and therefore remained friends

Jon Michaelsen’s scrap book of the 80s

throughout the decades, mostly just running into each other at one of the many gay bars in Atlanta of the day in the ’80s/90s & the early 00s: Backstreet, Armory, Weekends, Crazy Ray’s, Hoedown’s, Metro, Stephens, Burkhart’s, Illusions, The Cove, Hollywood Hots, The Answer, Poodles, Bulldogs, when gay bar-hopping was an art-form of its own.

About Author, Dr. Randy Fair

Dr. Randy Fair

Dr. Randy Fair is the author of the memoir, Southern. Gay. Teacher. Originally from Weaver, Alabama, Randy attended undergraduate school at Jacksonville State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Language Arts. After moving to Atlanta and beginning his teaching career, he attended Georgia State University, where he earned a Master’s of Education degree in English Education. Randy returned to Georgia State, where he earned a Specialist of Education degree in English Education and Doctorate in the Philosophy of Teaching and Learning. His essays and writings have appeared in The Southern Voice, where he was a regular columnist, The Houston Voice, The Atlanta Journal, The Anniston Star, Etc. Magazine and in the anthology, Telling Tales Out of School. He is the co-founder of the Atlanta Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Teachers Network and was named one of The Southern Voice’s “Twenty-five Who Made a Difference.” He is a National Faculty – Smithsonian Fellow, and he taught English for 30 years in the Atlanta area.

Exclusive Excerpt: The Less Than Spectacular Times of Henry Milch (The Wyandot County Mysteries Book 1) by Marshall Thornton

Exclusive Excerpt:

When I first crash-landed in Michigan, I took a long look around my nana’s farm. It had been more than a decade since I’d been there and, well, I didn’t have anything else to do. So, I looked around. A lot.

In the front, along West Shore Road, on the west side of our driveway, there were around five acres of neatly arranged, recently planted cherry trees. In February, they were craggy stick figures popping out of the snow. The bottom part of the trunk had been painted white up to about three feet. That must have improved health or production or flavor. I’ve never asked which or even what that white stuff is. In fact, the orchard was never much of a concern to me.

Along the other side of our driveway was another orchard, this one mature, taking up about ten or twelve acres. My grandmother leased both out to her neighbor to the east, Jasper Kaine. He had his own twenty acres of cherry trees, so it wasn’t much bother to take care of Nana Cole’s and he paid her half his profit on the acreage. It was a good deal for both of them.

Her house—clapboard, two-stories with a big old stone porch—sat behind the orchard. There were a couple of out-buildings; one a workshop and the other a red pole barn for the cars and farm equipment—most of which she didn’t use anymore. 

Then there were a couple of acres down a sloping hill where Nana planted vegetables every year: cabbage for slaw, squash, lots of squash, carrots, garlic and some onions. I knew all this because much of what she fed me came with comments about last summer’s crop: carrots were good, acorn squash dry and stringy.

Beyond the vegetable garden were four rows of raspberry bushes she’d strung up years ago—these I remembered from childhood visits. They just needed to be picked in late July. There was an overgrown chicken coup; she’d kept chickens for a decade or so but found them to be annoying, nasty animals who were much more appealing wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic.

At the very back of the property, down a rolling hill where she’d once grown rows and rows of corn, were ten or fifteen acres of trees and a small, kidney-shaped pond. She was good with a rifle and, in season, would go out into those woods to shoot a deer or a wild turkey. She’d dress the deer out there in the woods since she couldn’t carry it. When she’d finished, she’d pile the meat into a child’s wagon and pull it back to the house.

That was the part of the property that scared me most when I arrived. The woods. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen that start out with a city person visiting the country and ending up with that same guileless city person chopped to bits in some hillbilly’s prize-winning chili. Those movies made a big impression on me, and were responsible for a number of frights in those first few weeks. 

I’d lived in Los Angeles my whole life, so I kept locking doors. Nana Cole had a fit until she broke me of the habit. “You’re safe. Nothing happens out here,” she’d tell me. Truth be told, even though I’d spent my life locking doors I don’t think anyone had ever actually come by and checked to see if I had. And, I knew perfectly well that any seasoned thief could get past a locked door in a flash. Still, the day I found the dead body, I was tempted to start locking doors again no matter what Nana Cole said.

Getting out of the truck, I walked around back to the kitchen door, but before I went in I whistled for Reilly. He was Nana’s six-year-old yellow Lab-mix and the one battle with her I’d won definitively. When I arrived, when it was frigidly cold—well, more frigidly cold than it was in April—Reilly was living in a grimy doghouse out by the vegetable garden. I brought him inside as soon as I saw it—actually, I brought him to a groomer near the mall in Bellflower and got him a bath and nail grind—and from then on he slept inside with me.

“People have stopped having children and now they treat animals like their own kids. It’s not right. It’s not how things were. A dog is a dog not a child.” Those are the CliffsNotes. I probably listened to a couple hours of commentary about how dogs were treated when she was young—the right way—and how they were treated now—the wrong way.

She still put him out when I wasn’t there, but when I came back he’d come when I called—as he did that day—and jump on me a couple times even though I told him no. I wasn’t what anyone would call a dog person so discipline was little more than a concept, but he was a good dog, well-behaved. Most of the time.

When we walked into the kitchen, Nana Cole was sitting there with her friend, my boss, Bev. My nana was somewhere near seventy—one side or the other, I didn’t know which—white-haired, rheumy-eyed, with skin as wrinkled as a used sheet of wax paper. Bev was younger, though by how much I couldn’t tell. She had steely hair and a nose like a knife. I got out Reilly’s bowl and filled it with water.

“D’you go to the bakery?” Nana Cole asked.

“I forgot.”

“You forgot?”

“Dead bodies will do that to you.” Though, it was probably the half a Valium I took. Or the whole one I took on the way home. “I’ll go later.”

“I wanted the bread for lunch.”

I put the water down and let Reilly splash it around in what passed for taking a drink. Hopefully, some of it got in his mouth. 

“Too bad there’s nothing in the pantry,” I said. 

The pantry was the size of a bedroom in L.A. (or a whole New York City apartment from I hear) and was full of dry goods and canned vegetables from last year’s garden. Not to mention, there were at least two loaves of bread that I was personally aware of in the freezer in the basement. Nana Cole was just partial to the sourdough at Beanie’s Bakery. 

“He was such a sweet child,” she said to Bev. “I don’t know what happened.” 

She passed that off as a joke, but I had the feeling she half meant it. Well, more than half.

I sat down and asked, “Who’s Sammy Hart?”

“That who you found?” Bev asked.

I nodded. 

Nana Cole said, “The Harts go back a ways, they owned an Italian restaurant in the village for a long while.”

“Who’d they sell that to?” Bev wondered.

“Couple out of Chicago.” Nana Cole shook her head as though no one in Chicago could run a business. “Only lasted a year or two. None of the locals would go there.” 

“Sammy’s mother was a Beckett, wasn’t she?” Bev asked.

Nana Cole nodded. 

Even I knew who the Becketts were. They still had their name on a lot of things around Masons Bay: a farm, a construction company, a funeral parlor. I imagined Sammy would be getting a family and friends discount on his final purchase.

“That’s right,” Nana Cole said. “He was Colleen’s boy. Odd, never married.”

“Yup, that’s the one.”

There was an uncomfortable silence—or at least it was uncomfortable for me. We listened to the kitchen clock tick. Something wasn’t being said, something obvious. These were code words. Never married. Odd. Sammy Hart was gay. Well that figures, I thought, the first gay person I meet in Michigan is a corpse. 

Reilly was done lapping up water and hovered around my knees. I told him to lie down and he went and lay in the big squishy bed I’d gotten him. I don’t think he was minding me, though, I think we just happened to agree that he should lie down.

“They want me to come in tomorrow and make a statement,” I said. “And I’m supposed to bring the note with me.”

“What note?” Nana Cole asked.

“That’s why I was at the Sheck’s. There was a note.”

Bev continued for me, “Someone tacked it to the door, oh, last night or this morning. Said there were some old cars out at the Sheck’s didn’t belong.”

“There weren’t though,” I pointed out.

“So, it was a prank.”

“Well, no, I don’t think so,” I said. “I think maybe someone wanted us to find the body.”

“Oh you watch too much TV,” Nana said.

“I would if you’d get cable.”

“Then you’d do nothing but sit around like a couch potato.”

Which wasn’t far from what I’d been doing on my days off even without movie channels and MTV. And The Real World., God I missed The Real World. Without cable, I did have a DVD player on my iBook and there was a Hometown Video on the way to Bellflower. I’d already become very familiar with their stock. Very, very middle-of-the-road, FYI.

“It doesn’t make sense that someone would kill Sammy Hart, go to the trouble of hiding him at the Sheck’s, and then tell us where he was,” Bev said, then sipped her coffee.

“They might have killed him there,” I said. 

Had they? I wondered. Was there a way to figure it out?

“Why kill him out there, though?” Bev asked.

I shrugged. “So you wouldn’t have to carry him? It did seem like a long way to carry someone.”

“It’s got to be a coincidence. Someone actually thought there were cars out there,” Bev said. “I mean, why not send the note to the police? Why get us involved?”

I shrugged again. “I don’t know. But I bet there’s a reason.”

Nana Cole stood up. “Well, I’d better find something for lunch. You staying, Bev?”

“No, I should go out and talk to the Shecks. If I know Lou Sheck, he’s going to try and find a way to blame this on The Conservancy.” 

She stood up to leave.

“I’ve got some bagels,” Nana Cole said. “I can make you a sandwich on a bagel. You sure you don’t want one to go?”

“No thanks.” She gave my grandmother a little hug and was out the door. Nana Cole started unloading sandwich fixings from the refrigerator. 

“I know you won’t go to church with me, but there’s a pancake supper tomorrow. I want you to go. My friends don’t believe you exist.”

“Your friends know I exist.” I’d met enough of them just going into Masons Bay with her.

“Well, you like pancakes, don’t you?”

“Are you trying to turn pancakes into a gateway drug to Jesus?”

“That’s not funny.”

“It wasn’t a joke.”

She stopped what she was doing. For a moment, she was quiet enough that I knew I’d stepped in it. Again. I stepped in it a lot. 

“The dinner’s at seven. Make sure you’re ready by six-thirty. And you can make your own damn sandwich.”

With that she left the kitchen.

Blurb:

The Less Than Spectacular Times of Henry Milch begins a new mystery series called the Wyandot County Mysteries. Set in a mythical county in northern lower Michigan, the series begins in the spring of 2003.

Things have not been going well for Henry Milch. After a Saturday night clubbing in his beloved West Hollywood, he took one pill too many and ended up banished to live on a farm with his ultra-conservative grandmother. It was that or rehab. While working a part-time job for the local land conservancy he stumbles across a dead body in the snow—as if things couldn’t get worse. But then things take a turn for the better, there’s a reward for information leading the man’s killer. All Henry has to do is find the murderer, claim the reward and he can go back to his real life in L.A.

More about award-winning author, Marshall Thornton:

Marshall Thornton writes two popular mystery series, the Boystown Mysteries and the Pinx Video Mysteries. He has won the Lambda Award for Gay Mystery twice, once for each series. His romantic comedy, Femme was also a 2016 Lambda finalist for Best Gay Romance. Other books include My Favorite Uncle, The Ghost Slept Over, and Masc, the sequel to Femme. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America.

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