MM: The Gaslight Mysteries is a blog devoted to Erin O’Quinn’s ongoing series of MM novels published by Amber Quill Press: Heart to Hart, Sparring with Shadows, and To the Bone.
Please note that a fourth mystery, Thin as Smoke, is now in the hands of my publisher. Here’s a brief teaser and a home-made piece of art:
In this latest Gaslight Mystery a third character emerges from the cigarette smoke and jazz-age music of a 1920s gay tavern—a place and a man much more than they seem. The novelist Dashiell Hammett, historically a Pinkerton’s op, has come to elicit Michael’s assistance. Ironically, the man who would later famously write The Maltese Falcon and other hard-boiled crime fiction drives Michael and Simon so far apart they may never return to their old ways…Because Michael and his old friend share a secret, one which threatens to end both his career and his complex relationship with Simon.
To readers of these books: You’ll find an overview . . . a photo journey . . . through Heart to Hart on my Amber Allure blog. As you read the story, it’s fun to envision the old motorbike, the “pooor man’s pocket watch” church of Kell Pádraig, the 1923 Austin 7 motorcar, and more. Your link is Amber Heat & Amber Allure Authors: Heart to Hart: 1920s fantasy romcom
To readers of this blog: If you leave a comment, please leave us also a link to your blog or novel. I’ll make sure the link is live.
There are also a few blogs devoted to it on my other manlove site The Man In Romance,
CA Marion Sipe designed the covers. On the left is the back cover for the first two print versions.
Your purchase links are:
For now, kick back as I begin to unwind the story of Michael McCree and his reluctant partner Simon Hart. Excerpts from the beginning chapters will appear as pages on the blog. Be sure to read the free short “Wings of Angels” published here, which serves as a prologue to all four books.
Here is a short story, a prologue if you will, to the “Gaslight Mysteries” novels. If you are at all curious about the necessarily brief character sketches, or by the hint of action to come, you may want to consider owning the books. The first three are available at Amber Allure. The fourth, Thin as Smoke, will be released soon.
Wings of Angels
The approaching man stumbled a little, oblivious to Michael’s presence in the room, sunk as he was in an ancient leather couch, his face buried behind the Dun Linden, Ireland New Dawn. As usual, this late at night, the man was carrying a bottle of Bushmills fine whiskey and walking with the deliberate gait of a drunk toward this end of the smoking room, where the dormitory entrance stood.
Michael McCree had been stalking this sensual dish, this marvelous bit o’hard, for the last few days. He’d found out Simon Hart was a private investigator, yet obviously one who needed to get sober before he investigated anything at all except a lumpy bed behind those double doors at his gentleman’s club.
Michael’s eyes rested longingly on Simon’s ass-end, revealed in all its muscled splendor by the tight athletic trousers. Only when the door was firmly shut and his quarry probably passed out on the cot inside would Michael finally leave and seek a late supper at the pub.
He tossed the newspaper aside and sat forward, elbows on knees, thinking about the impossibly handsome Simon. On Monday, three days ago, he’d handed Michael an obituary notice. Michael was a fair-to-middling newspaper typesetter, and Simon was a stranger in mourning. Their hands never touched. A starchy piece of paper did not even change hands. The sulky man had looked at him briefly, with aqua eyes like deep tide pools, and then he’d laid the notice carefully on the linotype as if he could not bear to have anyone wrench it from his possession.
The sheet of paper had been carefully inscribed with the details of a memorial service and a funeral following. It had taken Michael only a heartbeat to understand that the dead man had been Simon’s friend. And perhaps much more. Yet he could not tame the sudden lurch of his prick under the heavy leather typesetter’s apron. This was a man he wanted in his dreams, in his arms, in his ravening mouth. His prick, he knew, would fit nicely in his ass when the time came.
This man Simon fit his qualifications perfectly. He would not be a threat to Michael’s hidden life, one he’d closely guarded for years. After a sufficient amount of Bushmills, he may very well take a liking to Michael’s silk neckpiece. And those eyes … he could drown in their promise of smoldering resistance and eventual surrender.
O’course, he thought, he’d allow the man his period of mourning. And then ’twould be time to introduce himself properly. As a fisticuff fighter seeking to win a wager. As a potential new flat-mate. And finally, he hoped, as a savage-and-gentle lover.
Michael prided himself on having the eye and the sharp senses of a kestrel. And yet, when he rose and left the sagging couch, he did not notice another man in the large room get up and take his place near the dormitory door. He, too, held the New Dawn, a newspaper he did not intend to read.
The man called Moses watched Michael leave the club. His lower lip jutted out naturally, putting a kind of pout on the older man’s face. The expression in his very dark eyes was hidden by lowered lids and by shaggy brows that nevertheless told a prologue to danger.
I suspect this man who watches Simon has no hidden desire, except the desire to bed him. Not if I can help it.
His brows arched and flapped, a warning to anyone who would put this particular young man in peril. Especially the peril of a man entering another man, even in spirit.
Simon, oblivious to the wings of angels spread outside the tiny dorm room, let another bit of whiskey coat his mouth, then swallowed carefully.
“Funeral. Friday.” He set the bottle on the floor near the bed and lay back.
The first twenty-five years of his life had been hell. And yet, he thought, nothing like the next quarter century would be. In spite of the pain in his gut, he still would not cry. Because of it, he would not sleep.
Twenty feet away, in another world, the pages of a newspaper rustled softly, like the rousing of feathers, like the whisper of rushes in the Nile. And somewhere outside, walking the four miles to the Silver Hind pub where Simon had a flat, a man stretched his arms and yawned, unconsciously imitating his archangel namesake, Michael.
Half a world distant, in a fog-shrouded city called San Francisco, another man sat smoking on an indifferent bed in a cheap hotel room. The bottle he held was prohibited by national law, and all the more desired because it was forbidden.
Sam Dashiell Hammett thought about his life as an undercover agent. He briefly considered his rude scribblings about a plain dick, an anonymous operative. And suddenly, maybe because of the goddamn booze, he thought about a handsome young Irishman he’d known years before. One he was sure he’d never see again.
I left without saying goodbye. I had folded my wings over him, my only friend … and then released him to find my own hell in the trenches of a bloody war. Grinding out his smoldering butt, the tubercular man began to cough. And then, without even thinking about it, he pulled a pouch and thin paper packet from his shirt pocket and began to roll another cigarette.