Thursday, September 27, 2012

Only Make Believe by Elliott Mackle

Reviewer: Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Publisher: Lethe Press, August 2012
Pages: 178

As general manager of the Caloosa Club in Fort Myers FL in the early 1950's, Dan Ewing had many experiences that made running this hotel/club more like being a sideshow ringmaster, from drag queens, to hookers, gambling, and lots of deeply closeted gay or bisexual men. His fellow former-military buddy, and current lover, Bud Wright, acts as the head of security for the Caloosa, while also working as a detective for the local police department. When a guest is found dead in his room, dressed in women's clothing, Bud and Dan track down all possible clues to who did that, and why. At the same time, they are fighting off a backlash from local conservatives, who blame the Caloosa's presence as somehow causing the deceased, reportedly a responsible family man, to decide to cross dress and hang out in sleazy hotels. 

This is the long-awaited sequel to Mackle's "It Takes Two" novel, picking up a few years after that story ended, thought reading the earlier novel is not a prerequisite for appreciating this one. The characters are colorful and complex, yet relatable, and the author spins a captivating mystery with appropriate touches of humor and emotion throughout. Much recommended, five stars out of five.

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