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As of mid-September, I have read 68 gay and M/M crime novels that appeared in print in 2010. Given the popularity of the “George Eliot strategy” and bogus biographies, I cannot be certain, but 28 of them seem to have been written by men and 40 by women. I would classify 33 as M/M romances using crime plots.
Nazca Plains has begun to resurrect the spirit of gay pulp mysteries. Bob Archman’s Clydesdale series— which portrays men who will never appear in Instinct magazine having loads of sexual fun—is one of my guilty pleasures. I would like Kyle Cicero’s Mark Julian, Vampire P.I., series a whole lot more were the proofreading better; typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors now seem to plague all presses, big and small.
Even though finding a publisher has become harder, so far few self-published books have come to my attention, some of which are quite good.
Two books deserve separate attention for the way they use aspects of the crime genre to achieve other aims.
Published last year, Gregory Gerard’s In Jupiter’s Shadow (Infinity Publishing) is an autobiographical work. The protagonist, a young Catholic growing up in rural New York, uses the fictional boy sleuth Jupiter Jones as his model to investigate the meaning of his own difference.
Dennis Paddie’s Ask the Fire (Lethe Press) is too complex to describe in a few sentences. Its plot is a fictional recreation of the events leading up to 9/11; one of its several protagonists is a Texas-born spy who infiltrates the group responsible and dies on the day of the attacks. The novel sets forth an unusual argument about the decline of America and its failure to understand the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East; it meditates on the power of homosexuality (including its particular usefulness in espionage) and, most strikingly, it grounds its plot in esoteric history.
Here are nine books that I could not put down this summer before finishing them. I was surprised when I realized that five of them were published by the same press. Lest I seem biased, let me note that I chose not to review eleven other crime novels the press also published this year.
Bullets . . .
|RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS
By I.E. Woodward
Paperback, 169 p., $13.95
Hardback, 169 p., $23.95
Like Ralph Ashworth’s Killer of Orchids last year, this novel with its tongue-twisting title seemingly came out of nowhere to land squarely on my list of favorites for this year.
That’s not to imply that the two mysteries resemble each other, though one could apply similar adjectives to both: brash, quirky, unconventional, in your face, humorous, audacious. (How about that cover for willfully misleading buyers!) [Read the review]
|THE QUARTER BOYS
By David Lennon
Blue Spike Publishing (Book Surge)
Paperback, 239 p., $13.95
ISBN not found
Romance mysteries often work with one of the oldest literary themes: the paradox that you must learn to trust your heart, despite appearances to the contrary about a person, while at the same time you must remain aware that villains can present the most trustworthy of facades. [Read the review]
By Sullivan Wheeler
Paperback, 338 p., $17.99
Here we have, once again, the closeted police officer. We also have the old device of the detective being emotionally and sexually attracted to one of the chief suspects. What lifts this novel out of the ordinary is that we also have the first work to take a long, hard look at a gay alcoholic cop. [Read the review]
. . . Tracers . . .
|LILY WHITE, ROSE RED
By Catt Ford
Paperback, 208 p., $14.99
If an openly gay novel with a few explicit sex scenes could have been published in 1948, it might have looked something like this. The author pays loving homage to the hard-boiled American detective tradition while gaying it up: “My name is Grey Randall, and I’m a private dick.” But given the times, he acknowledges: “It wasn’t good business to get known as a private dick with an interest in dick.” [Read the review]
|ALL OF ME (CAN YOU TAKE ALL OF ME?)
By Dirk Vanden
Paperback, 129 p., $!6.00
Part mystery, part “fictionalized autobiography,” part fulmination against Mormons, part reinterpretation of Jesus’s mission as gay, this novel was for me above all a nostalgic revisit to an important stage in my own sexual development. [Read the review]
By Richard Stevenson
Paperback, 215 p., $14.99
ISBN not found
The eleventh Don Strachey, Albany, New York, P.I., novel is not so much a mystery as it is a meditation on what the gay movement has gained and, even more, what it has lost in the process of its struggle for equality.
True, a mother does disappear from her nursing home, and there is suspicion of foul play: but there is no real sense of menace. [Read the review]
. . . Slugs . . .
By Michael Gouda
Paperback, 232 p., $16.99
Why do the British seem to be so much better than Americans at depicting gay criminals? I’m thinking of Jake Arnott, Jack Dickson, among several others. Has it something to do with the British culture’s apparently ambivalent attitude about the Cambridge spies Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt and the racketeer Ronnie Kray as contrasted with our more puritanical, judgmental mentality? [Read the review]
|AARON BRADLEY, CLOSET DETECTIVE
By Timothy Owen
Paperback, 246 p., $16.99
Despite its title, this is not a mystery, not even an inverted mystery. It is a crime novel, only the second gay crime novel that I know of to come from a South African writer (the first being L.J. Harris’s Revival, a detective novel published in South Africa in 2006). [Read the review]
. . . and a Pair of Silver Bullets
By Andrea Speed
Paperback, 364 p., $17.99
The author, the editor-in-chief of theComixtreme website, has created an intriguing supernatural world in which some humans have been infected by a virus that creates five strains of werecats. The hero, Roan McKichan, has been a werelion from birth, but his lover, Paris Lehane, was infected as an adult and is a weretiger. Though AIDS furnishes the basic template, the conceit allows the author to explore difference without all the baggage that the gay vampire novel has accumulated. [Read the review]