This spring the books that most caught my attention were a trio by old friends — Neil S. Plakcy, Jack Ricardo, and Marshall Thornton — plus a 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, which he adapted as the script for a quasi-controversial 2012 film. (more…)
Several winter evenings passed enjoyably because of new mysteries from Sam Cameron, Janice Law, David Lennon, Andrea Speed, and Joyce Thompson. Several times, in fact, I missed my usual bedtime because I had become so engrossed in the tale unfolding for me. Though very different in terms of plots and characters, thinking back I see they have one thing in common: while they were entertaining me, they made me think and feel. It is not lost upon me that four of the five authors are women. Given the flood of m/m romances these days, let me say up front that none of these novels fits the description (though Speed’s series is marketed as such). All these authors are interested in psychological truth rather than in titillation. Sex occurs, but never in detail and only as part of what drives the characters in a search for truth. The same comment applies to the heterosexual protagonist of the one new film mystery I found this winter. I wanted to see it for its take on the Marilyn Monroe legend and was surprised to discover that it also fits into this column. So here they are, in the order in which the books were published rather than that in which I read them, with some comments about the movie at the end. (more…)
When friends, including mystery writers, learned that I was compiling my list of the ten best gay film mysteries, several expressed surprise that I could find that many. Actually, my problem was narrowing down the enormous number of possibilities. The new edition of my book The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film (Scarecrow Press, November 2012) lists some 130 titles for me to choose from, 1948-2011, this number including only films with some kind of a gay investigator. In addition to these, I could also consider, though I decided not to, any number of television and video serials, such as episodes from Dalziel and Pascoe, 1996-2002, and the powerful miniseries The State Within, 2006. Plus, there are over 100 pornographic films that I also eliminated, though some are of surprising interest, from Greek Lightning, 1973, and The American Adventures of Surelick Holmes, 1975, through The Roommate, 1993, to Focus/Refocus, 2009.
Culture critic Jillian Steinhauer has an online article “127 Reasons Why We’re Fascinated by Lists” (The Awl, 7 Feb. 2012). She notes that list-making is “an act of curation,” and she quotes Andrew Sarris that, “with a 10-best list, a critic puts his or her tastes on the line.” But nowhere among her 127 reasons does she argue that celebration can be a motive. Yet isn’t that what was going on at the end of the last century when we got lists of the 100 best of everything imaginable? A personal celebration led to this column. The day before (appropriately enough) Thanksgiving, my copies of the new and expanded edition of my book The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography (Scarecrow Press, 2013) arrived.
Here are my recommendations for good reads in crime fiction for this fall: ten novels by Rob Byrnes, Dorien Grey, Steve Neil Johnson, Geoffrey Knight/Ethan Day, Christopher Lord, Elliott Mackle, Melissa Scott, Scott Sherman, Richard Stevenson, and Mark Zubro as well as two short stories by Marshall Thornton and Zubro. They are all, with the exception of Zubro’s story, additions to already established series or the first in a proposed new series.
Here are nine novels worth setting your sights on. Seven are by old friends: Anthony Bidulka, David Lennon, Stephen Osborne, Neil S. Plakcy, Rob Rosen, Andrea Speed, and Marshall Thornton. Reading them is hunting in familiar territory, though there are some unexpected twists in the trails they take us on. Two authors are new to the scene: John Inman and David Russell. The nine employ different strategies in creating their mysteries, but they have in common characters whom you like and care about. (more…)
Giving up trying to stay abreast of all the gay crime novels and m/m romance-mysteries appearing weekly, I relied heavily this winter on name recognition, blurbs, and the impression created by opening pages to guide me to my reading choices. Thus, new works by old friends dominate this column: Hal Bodner, Dorien Grey, Greg Herren, Steve Johnson, Jeffrey Round, and Stephen E. Stanley, with two newcomers: J. Timothy Hunt and Charles Alan Long. It is a sign of the troubled publishing world how many of these novels are self-published. (more…)
Fall saw a number of gems for mystery fans. Garry Ryan’s new Detective Lane novel and David Lennon’s new Quarter Boys mystery are topnotch. A first novel by Russ Gregory, though it was initially harder-going, kept me engrossed once I got into it. The sequel to Ralf König’s graphic novel about NYPD’s detective Luigi Macaroni has finally been translated. These are the works I am featuring in this column. (more…)
The end of a hot and extremely dry summer brought a number of enjoyable distractions. Richard Stevenson’s latest Don Strachey case shows author and P.I. back in top form, thirty years after their debut. There were second novels from Joseph R.G. DeMarco and Scott Sherman. Jordan Castillo Price and Andrea Speed continued their alternate universe mystery series, joined by newcomer Stephen Osborne. I am happy to report that I was part of Cheyenne Publishing’s decision to bring Ruth Sims’s pioneering YA Pride Pack mysteries back into print. Two authors — Michael Gouda and Marshall Thornton — brought off that rarity: single-author short story collections. And two anthologies of all new crime writing appeared, one edited by DeMarco and the other by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann. Plus, the excellent film adaptation of Ken Bruen’s comic thriller Blitz became available onDVD. (more…)
“There are those who believe that Gay Liberation started at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. That is like believing that a flower can blossom without having been planted…”
Before a series of landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning obscenity, beginning in 1957 and accelerating and changing direction throughout the 1960s, American book publishers worked under a common set of truisms, some based on fact and some simply assumed. Fact: Anything deemed obscene was prohibited from being sent through the U.S. postal service. Fact: Homosexuals, by their very nature, were considered obscene; therefore, any book with a homosexual as a main character could be considered obscene (more…)