February 1 will mark the debut of the fourth Gaslight Mystery. I call it THIN AS SMOKE, a phrase which reflects the physique and the smile if not the intentions of mysterious stranger Samuel Dashiell Hammett.
May 1, 1924. The tubercular young man, not yet known for his remarkable crime fiction, has come to Ireland on the track of Mafia bootleggers. The trail of illegal whiskey leads him straight to someone he knew seven years ago, on the east coast of America. That man is Michael McCree, partner of the brooding Simon Hart in the investigation firm of Hart & McCree … Discretion at Your Service.
Apart from the presence of Hammett, the novel traces what happens when two partners are forced to work apart—two partners who are drawn to each other in ways that the closeted Simon has fought against for an entire year, even while recognizing the truth.
Slowly, month by month, he’d been learning to accept his craving for Michael. To enjoy inconceivable pleasure from the man’s deft tongue, his knowing fingers, his ramrod insistence and his gentle withdrawal. And he’d discovered his own astounding need to tie his lover, to inflict blows on his chiseled buttocks with his cane, to utter words he’d never dared even think before. He’d even ejaculated all alone at times without masturbating, just imagining Michael tying him to the dowels of his bed, so keen was the stimulus of being put in bonds by the powerfully sensuous man.
This new world of sex was fierce, and frustrating. It was a mystery and a muddle, and it was damn satisfying. He’d not trade Michael and his attentions for anything in this world. Not money, not fame, nor any of the lame ambitions he’d once thought were the answer to happiness.
Happiness? If only he could accept himself, hell, then he could covertly pleasure himself every time he touched Michael. If only he could face his needs and fears, if he could openly admit love, and above all if he could shed his monstrous burden of guilt…
Then pigs would fly.
Being aroused by another man … That forbidden pleasure had scraped a wound somewhere in his brain which barely scabbed over before being opened again every time he came to Paddy’s.
Paddy’s is a tavern frequented by homosexuals—omi-palones, in the underground language called Polari. And suddenly, out of the haze of cigarette smoke and dancers there emerges a man Simon immediately reacts to with the clenched gut of a jealous lover … Samuel Dashiell Hammett.
HEART TO HART
SPARRING WITH SHADOWS
TO THE BONE
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