Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: The University of Wisconsin Press
Dave Brandstetter is an insurance company investigator in charge of looking into difficult claims. When radio personality Fox Olson’s convertible plunges off a mountain road into a river, Brandstetter is called in to determine why nobody can find the body. Was it an accident? Suicide? Murder? Or is Fox alive and in hiding? And how does all this relate to the sudden reappearance of Olson’s war buddy.
Brandstetter has his own demons to fight. He has recently lost his lover, and this is his first case after coming back onto the job after a number of months off to get over what he can’t get over.
Olson lived in a small western town, one where everyone seemed to love him, and also where everyone has secrets. Brandstetter must expose all those secrets in order to uncover the truth and solve the case.
In 1972 Joseph Hansen published the first of what would grow to twenty-five novels, twelve of which feature Dave Brandstetter as the hard edged, openly gay, thinking man’s investigator. Brandstetter was not the first gay sleuth, but he was the first healthy, gay detective that was utterly comfortable with his sexuality. He is as real a person as a novel character can be.
The writing and pacing are superb. Hansen has been compared to Hammett, Ross MacDonald, and Chandler, and for good reasons. Although there are some plot twists that are obvious, there are plenty of surprises that keep the reader guessing to the last few pages.
It is a moving, interesting, sure-handed book on every level.
After four decades, every aspect of this story and the writing holds up. Hansen’s work is destined to be deemed classic. This is a story I can highly recommend to all readers who enjoy a good mystery.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Charlie Harris is looking for a lost love. He comes to Whistle Pass to reunite with his war buddy, Roger Black, who he had shared some intimate moments with before the war in Europe ended. It’s been ten years since their romance, and Charlie doesn’t know what to expect. All he knows is, his buddy has asked for help. What he finds is a mystery, a dangerous and confusing situation. Roger Black is no longer the lover in Charlie’s memories. He is now a married, hard-bitten political schemer who uses people, including Charlie.
Charlie luckily finds someone to help him pull the pieces together, Gabe Kasper, the dandy who manages the town’s only hotel. But helping Charlie places Gabe’s life in danger. Charlie is backed into a corner and must fight for his life, but will he honor the lover of his memories or protect this new hotel manager?
This story has a number of twists and turns, enough to keep any reader guessing. Its strength, I believe, is in the depth of the two main characters, Charlie and Gabe. They are both damaged goods, each in their own way. This is a romance, so it was no surprise that these two developed feelings for each other. The surprise came from the believable way their relationship developed.
This is a story that started off very strong with several intriguing threads. As the plot developed, however, I felt the characters made several unrealistic choices, which kept pulling me out of the story to scratch my head. Those choices sometimes felt forced to advance the plot, and other times simply peaked my interest because it was not what I was expecting.
The author’s descriptive prose often crosses the line into melodrama, and I found myself wishing the author would have toned down the language. The author is also fond of telling the story via the characters thoughts, as apposed to showing the story through action.
For readers who enjoy MM romance with a heavy dash of suspense thrown into the mix, I can recommend this story.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Friday, February 1, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace (Dec., 2012)
In current day San Francisco, Sister Mary Rose Harlowe and Broderick Ellis are brought together by a mysterious old woman to solve a mystery that began in Ireland at the time of the potato famine. Mary Rose and Broderick find themselves in a mad rush to get answers that can prevent disasters and save countless lives. What they uncover is truly remarkable, secret powers that have been in play for centuries. It is something that the holy authorities in Rome will do anything to crush. But as remarkable as this mystery is, Mary Rose and Broderick discover that the most shocking revelation is about their own lives.
Bud Gundy has created a truly innovative romp though history, captured in a voice that is magical and amusing. The plot is chock full of twists and turns and the two protagonist must use their considerable wits to maneuver between the landmines.
Like most good stories, it is the characters that make this tale so interesting. Sister Mary Rose is a devout nun, but she is also a headstrong woman who will not be pushed around by her ‘superiors’. Broderick is a fun-loving gay atheist. Together, they clash in a fun way, much like the Odd Couple or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The plot is both serious and fanciful. It is fast paced and there are times when I couldn’t read it fast enough. It is a page-turner with a surprise ending.
There are times in the story when Sister Mary Rose climbs onto her soapbox to convince Broderick there is a holy power, and to me (a non-Christian) it sounded too much like preaching. I would have preferred that the author have gotten his point across in more subtle ways.