The eternal tango…

From early in MASTERS OF CANE, the 5th Gaslight Mystery…

Michael is standing at his bureau, bending a little, trying to shave by looking into a small mirror.

He was still a little rattled over his last sight of Simon standing rigid on the opposite side of his large, crisply-made bed. The look in the man’s soul-filled aqua eyes had cried out louder than a moan.

I need you, Michael.

His right hand trembled slightly as he aimed the straight razor, still absorbed in thoughts of Simon…

Shit criminy. Michael had almost leapt onto the bed and strode across its surface to reach his partner, to seize both shoulders, to force the words from his mouth. And then, as usual, he’d stopped himself.

Anything he did, almost anything he said, might drive Simon back into the shadows. Best to give his sometime-lover a little room to maneuver. Let him think through what had happened in the last few days.

’Twas no use kicking his own arse over the way he’d damned near raped the man when they first came together a year ago. Somehow they’d both survived Michael’s exuberant dick and Simon’s desperate self-denials. He’d promised himself he would never go back to being a maddened bullock, horns out, ready to attack any red cape in front of his one-eyed charge.

tangoAnd so for twelve months he’d danced the provocative tango, subtly leading, then allowing Simon to close the embrace and change the tempo for a few beats … back and forth, in and out. They dipped and swayed to music Michael was certain both of them could hear. Just that he heard a complete fantasia, while Simon was still responding to the opening bars.

The wanna-be—the thick sexual tension that runs throughout the first four Gaslight Mysteries—all that changes in this fifth novel. It’s subtle. Outwardly, Simon still seems petulant and aloof. But inside, where his heart and his very manhood lie deep, a crucial change has begun.

It all started with that damn interloper Samuel Dashiell Hammett. [Thin as Smoke]  But I’m dancing shead of the beat…

 

Explicit excerpt from MASTERS OF CANE:

si robe paradise=pizap.com14288493572001Michael saw the silk-robed figure standing behind him, reflected in the small shaving mirror. He stood rock-still, waiting for Simon to speak.

“McCree. Do not turn around.”

Those words, whether studied or not, forced his cock to instant attention. They were the same ones Simon had uttered a year ago when he’d knelt behind him and stroked his ass, parted the cheeks and licked the honey-hole, then turned him around so he could bury his need inside this man’s hot, unskilled mouth.

And so Michael stood straight as a sentinel, heart slamming against his ribs, tongue thick with surprise. 

Simon’s warm fingers slid over the skin of his hips and tugged on the towel. The voice in his right ear was husky, hesitant—

~

#gay #erotic #romance #mystery #humor #retro #Ireland

The series:

~The Gaslight Mysteries, gay retro with a twist

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Each novel can be bought singly at this Kindle Series site on Amazon.

Heat level high 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

The final two novels form a natural pair…

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tango film by Carlos SauraThis image is from the film Tango by Carlos Saura. I just wrote an article in another blog about the queer tango.  Take a look!

https://bit.ly/2kFTbo2

 

Hammett, Gershwin, and O’Quinn

Dashiell Hammett, best known for his iconic novel The Maltese Falcon, struggled with tuberculosis most of his adult life. The portrait you’ll read of him in THIN AS SMOKE, however, is a creation of my frazzled brain and not a representation of the “real” Dashiell  Hammett, except insofar as a distinct personality emerges from reading his body of work.

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George Gershwin, beloved American composer of popular jazz and sophisticated orchestral pieces, was the son of Russian Jews. In Michael and Simon’s tavern, the music would have been heard on scratchy gramophones and even live, from the fingers and lips of jazz musicians for whom there were no international boundaries, only music.

tmil gershwin

Both these fellows are imbedded in my romcom mystery THIN AS SMOKE, each in a different way.

Hammett, the famous writer of hard-boiled crime novels, was really a Pinkerton Agency op from 1915 until 1922. And Gershwin wrote the hugely famous “The Man I Love” in 1924,* the year my story takes place.

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Those of you who’ve read the first Gaslight Mystery, Heart to Hart, already know the Pinkerton’s link with Michael. Because of this association, I postulate that my character had met Hammett, whom he calls “Sam,” on U.S. soil in 1917, right before the writer-to-be joined the WWI effort.

Almost impoverished, with a wife and newborn child to support, the tubercular, chain-smoking Hammett was living in San Francisco in 1924. And here’s where Erin O’Quinn’s imagination substitutes fiction for reality. It’s true that Hammett had bitterly turned away from the detection agency two years before (because of their anti-union activities, which I don’t mention in the book).

But needing money, he agrees to one last assignment for Pinkerton’s; and that covert operation takes him to Dun Linden, Ireland, back to the man he’d known Stateside seven years earlier.

And Simon, battling his inner demons—in love with Michael but refusing to admit his gayness, guilt-ridden over his ambivalent feelings—Simon does not like Hammett’s appearance and his teaming up with his PI partner Michael. Not one little bit.

Ironically, the man who’s “thin as smoke” comes between the two private investigators in a way that’s “hard as a fist,” and that tension drives the inner action of the book. The outer action hinges on two sets of mysteries, and the PIs must split up to investigate both.

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Now let’s segue to a lovely song. “The Man I Love” is a Gershwin standard, usually sung by a female vocalist. But anyone who’s heard the lyrics knows it’s a tender yearning for love, no matter whether from a woman to a man…or one man to another.

The day Hammett shows up in their lives, he invites Michael to the dance floor in a gay tavern (in those days, a Molly House) in order to discuss a secret op. The music they closely dance to, ironically, is Gershwin’s song. Simon sits listening, fantasizing, anguished, while his secret love is in the arms of a dangerously handsome man.tmil green

You may choose not to believe this. But the video I present below was totally new to me until a few weeks ago, months after I wrote the dance-floor scene with the Gershwin song. Watch it, and you may weep for its understated declaration of pure love, one man for another. I cannot see it without fighting down a lump in my throat.

One of life’s strange coincidences.

The song winds its way throughout the book, coming back like a leitmotif, and reprises in the Epilogue. Hearing that song in some crevice of his mind, Simon finally understands what he must do.

And the very thin one, Hammett? His very presence becomes the catalyst for profound change in the life of both Michael and Simon, in ways you’ll have to read about to understand.

Please click the link (not the arrow) and watch/listen!

http://youtu.be/rcdgKtT-i-k

nyc chorus

If you haven’t yet read the Gaslight Mysteries, I urge you to read them in order—both to avoid any spoiler of a few interesting quirks and quiddities; and especially for the developing relationship between Michael McCree and Simon Hart.

All the mysteries are here:

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*The music and lyrics were written in 1924 for inclusion in a Broadway musical but were later scrapped; and the song wasn’t heard as a single until 1927. So I’m pushing the boundaries a little for the sake of the story. So sue me …

Photos on this page from Yahoo! Images and from Wikipedia
Cover images of the Gaslight Mysteries by Erin O’Quinn (Bonita Franks)

Thin as Smoke: Men on the Edge

 

GL 4 logo

A gay pub somewhere in Ireland. The day is Beltane, Lover’s Day. May 1, 1924.

~oOo~

Those of you who’ve read the first three mysteries know Simon by now: closeted, uptight, surly. Angry at himself, at his flat-mate Michael, and perhaps at the world. And by now you know the somewhat complicated reasons for his attitude.

As the novel opens, Michael McCree is working up to a celebration—the day one year ago he first met the brooding, drop-dead-gorgeous PI Simon Hart. His memories go back to the handsome stranger standing in his newspaper’s anteroom, come to turn in an obituary notice and an advert for a new roomer…

michael 400 flipMichael closed his eyes and let an image dance on the inside of his lids. His own practiced fingers fitting slugs into the linotype, pushing in time with the rain pummeling the large front window of the New Dawn. A rumpled, unshaven man of about twenty-five whose eyes were uncharted stormy seas…almost as tall as he, broad of shoulder and stubbled of chin, dominating the newspaper’s outer office, not bothering to temper either his snotty tone or the surly twist of his lips.

He’d insisted on posting a funeral notice in that very day’s edition. And an advert for a flat-mate. Had this wild-eyed loony bumped off his roomer and now needed a paying substitute? Michael had decided on the spot this outrageously handsome, darkly tousled stranger needed two commodities right away—a sodding good lay and a flat-mate named Michael McCree.

For his part, Simon remembers the day, rightly enough. But for him, the anniversary is not one to celebrate.

The story was a long one. And yet he could start a scant day ago. He’d awakened yesterday with the instant knowledge it was Beltane eve. An anniversary of sorts. A date his new partner had obliquely referred to several times as though it called for some kind of romantic celebration…their first meeting, in the newspaper shop.

bum:angstSimon still had a hard time piecing together those fevered days one year ago after he’d discovered the murdered body of his business partner. Try as he might, he could not remember even dressing on that long-ago morning, much less composing an obit notice and an advert for a new flat-mate. Had he perhaps slept in his suit and greatcoat? It was possible. What he did remember was the rain. After weeks of unnatural drought, the deluge seemed to be wreaking punishment on saint and sinner alike.

Has it really been one entire year?

He remembered taking his Bushmills bottle to bed each night for several days after he found Sargent sprawled across the surface of their old mahogany desk. He’d avoided both their PI office and the flat they’d shared, seeking the knotted bedding at his gentleman’s club where his old friend’s ghost was a little dimmer. He later remembered the cheeky fellow in the New Dawn anteroom because the bastard had extorted a prince’s ransom for his newspaper’s services and had the gall to pound on his door a few days later to extract even more.

For Simon, Beltane eve was the day he’d tried to soak the blood of his foxhole friend from a desk blotter. And Beltane was not the day he’d met Michael McCree. It was the day he’d set down another man’s death in indelible India ink.

~oOo~

And now, out of the haze of cigarette smoke and the sea of clustered dancers, steps a very thin man. A gaunt man, with shuttered eyes betraying both sickness and a world of emotional hurt. Dashiell Hammett has come to Dun Linden on a covert assignment, and he meets his old friend Michael after seven years.

man:smoke lg copyHammett’s astonished. Michael seems delighted. But Simon, refusing to admit how much he’s drawn to his handsome partner, is stricken by the sudden appearance of the man drawing Michael’s attention…

So the day Dashiell Hammett walks out of the smoke of Paddy’s gay pub, he walks into the lives of two deeply conflicted men.

 

One reviewer, Suzana Wylie, perceptively points out:

“Each is trapped inside the snare of his emotions, straining to find a means of escape, not from each other, but toward each other.”

Hamett’s mere presence sets in motion several events which threaten to end the edgy relationship of Michael McCree and Simon Hart.

 

tas promo some glo

The five mysteries are here, on the new Kindle Series page:

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