Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Gaslight Mysteries by Erin O'Quinn

Heart to Hart
Michael McCree is one with a mysterious past, who ends up as a newspaper man, thereby meeting the strikingly handsome Simon Hart, who comes to his shop to turn in an obituary notice.

Simon's flat-mate and former business partner has been killed, and Simon, a private investigator, needs to track down the murderer.  Michael, immediately smitten with the sulky and sexy man, lays a plan to first become his new roomer, then his business partner.

But Simon, stricken by his recent loss, is having none of Michael's undisguised interest.

Not a man to be deterred easily from a goal, Michael sets about winning Simon's affection.  That particular battle is almost as difficult as tracking down the murderer of his predecessor, a nosy detective who was getting too close to the crimes of an evil person.

Simon spends more time ducking Michael's advances than actually finding clues and solving the mystery.  Inquiring minds want to know--how hard is Simon really trying to avoid Michael?  And Michael isn't hiding his forthright urges, but what secret is he hiding?

Rating:  4 Stars

Sparring with Shadows
Simon Hart, private investigator, has always thought of himself as a regular fellow.  He's standoffish and a loner with a sullen attitude--yet surely a normal bloke.  And then he meets the randy Michael McCree.

In short order, Michael has become his flat-mate, his business partner, and his wannabe lover.  Now Simon must look deeper, into his own hidden desires, if he wants to survive.

There's something about Michael's secret vocation that invites trouble.  Simon finds himself sparring with shadows: in the hidden bedrooms of a roaring twenties version of a gay bar . . . as a chained wall decoration in the flat of a thief and sexual deviant . . . and as the quarry in a deadly confrontation in an exhibitionist's bed and then in a sewer tunnel beneath the streets of a 1923 city somewhere in Ireland.

Above all, Simon is sparring with the shadow of his own secret urges.  Michael will not allow him to turn away from a kind of private investigation of which he has not even dreamed.  Until now.

Follow a fastidious, surly investigator and his horny yet secretive partner through the very cracks in a city of gaslights and vitage motorcars, into a hidden homosexual culture, as the men find themselves sparring with shadows . . .

Rating:  4 Stars

To The Bone
The time is 1923, and the place is a fantasy city in Ireland.  Two unlikely men have formed a partnership:  good-natured Michael, who keeps a serious secret, and sulky Simon, who has plenty of reasons to be angry at the world.  Michael has stalked the standoffish Simon from the beginning, and Simon has consistently rebuffed him . . . yet not enough for Michael to give up a dedicated pursuit of the handsome investigator.

As private eyes, the men have a case to solve:  to find more than a score of stolen paintings, and especially one small valuable work of art worth more than all the others.  But the case grows more complex the deeper they look into it.  Soon Michael and Simon find themselves searching not just for a thief, but for a city-wide ring of criminals.  And the closer they get to the paintings, the closer they find themselves to a killer.

Into this mix steps a man named Moshe--a pesky, secretive, nosy man who is nevertheless a brilliant investigator himself.  He gives both the men fits, burrowing like a tick into their very private affairs, so close they have a hard time evading him.

Can the investigators solve a series of crimes, take care of the interfering Moshe, and drive their own intense relationship all the way to the bone?

Rating:  5 Stars

I read all three books and since the time frame from page 1 of Heart to Hart to the last page of To the Bone only covers about two to three weeks, I'm going to do an overall review for the series.  I won't lie, the beginning was a bit tricky to get into with the Irish slang of the time but I was able to become comfortable with it after only a chapter or so.  After that I was hooked.  Simon and Michael grabbed my heart and didn't let go.  I loved the humorous banter between the new found partners.  I found them to be very enjoyable and likeable despite their moments of infuriating debating.  At times, they reminded me very much of the banter and bickering of Bogey and Bacall in The Big Sleep.  The mysteries are quite intriguing and definitely hold the reader's interest as does the humor and the obvious attraction between the pair.  Michael McCree and Simon Hart are definitely a pair I'd be very interested to read more of.

Author Bio:
Erin O'Quinn earned a BA(Englsih) and MA(Comparative Literature) from the University of Southern California.  Her life has been a pastiche of fascinating vocations--newspaper marketing manager, university teacher, car salesperson, landscape gardener--until now, in relative retirement, she lives and writes in a small town in central Texas.

Erin now has five novels published by AmberAllure: Noble, Nevada and The Chase are the books so far in the "Noble Dimensions" series.  Watch for two short stories in the same Noble Dimensions universe, "A Hard Place" and "Cowboys and Kilts."  You'll also find a holiday short published around November 24 titled "Merry Christmas, Utah."

Her current series, titled "The Gaslight Mysteries," includes Heart to Hart, Sparring with Shadows, and To the Bone.

In addition to these five Amber Quill Press books, Erin has eleven published novels.  Of those, two are M/M historicals set in the Ireland of badass clansmen, cattle drovers, druids, Saxon mercenaries, and St. Patrick himself.  Her latest, with author Nya Rawlyns, is titled "Bighorn" and is her only Indie-published novel.

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