Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thin as Smoke by Erin O'Quinn

In 1924, the PI team of Michael McCree and Simon Hart are on the trail of missing motors—a mundane case that turns deadly when they discover the link between their case and that of Samuel Dashiell Hammett.

The writer of hard-boiled crime is scratching to earn a living, and his work as an undercover Pinkerton operative lands him on the shore of the Irish Sea, in the city of Dun Linden. In one of a series of coincidences, Hammett finds himself paired with his old friend Michael, a man he knew in the U.S. before he left for the World War.

“Sam,” as he’s known to Michael, unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that separate the two partners and sometime-lovers. Working on his own, Simon finds himself on both ends of a Smith & Wesson revolver. Meanwhile, Sam and Michael discover that the perilous connection between motors and Mafia bootleggers also means a shattering of former alliances...because Michael and his old friend share a secret, one that threatens to end both his career and his complex relationship with Simon.

Simon and Michael are spectacular once again.  I love the fact that this installment is centered around their one year "anniversary".  We get to see how each of them see that fateful day and when you throw in their new case and the addition of Michael's old colleague, you have yourself a perfect addition to the Gaslight Mysteries.

Speaking of Michael's old colleague, Sam Hammett, it's a special treat for me.  Not only does Sam bring a new element to the story, an inkling of Michael's history and Simon dealing with the jealousy that Sam's arrival has brought out, but for me it adds a bit of fangirl moments.  Sam Hammett, or as most people know him, Dashiell Hammett, is the creator of my most favorite mystery solving couple, Nick and Nora Charles and The Thin Man.  Neither The Thin Man nor Hammett's writing skills have any bearing on this story but just the addition of his character into the mix had me giddy going in and once I finished Thin as Smoke, I was just as giddy.  Miss O'Quinn weaves Hammett into the world that Simon and Michael live in with creativity and nearly as much charm as Michael used to originally worm his way into Simon's life back in Heart to Hart.

Now for the mystery itself.  Perfect for the duo, or should I say trio in this case.  I don't think that the case is as big a part of this story as the cases in the first three of the series.  However, I do think that how the characters deal with the case and each other is more at the center of Thin as Smoke, which is still part of the mystery so perhaps it's just from a different angle.  However you look at the ins and outs of the case, this is a great addition the series and a must read, especially if you like historical settings.


     ...Simon was lying back on the divan in his usual attitude of disinterest, one long leg hooked over the back of the too-short seat. He looked up with those heart-clogging eyes, and his sulky lower lip seemed to jut even more than usual. He rose from his indolent posture and moved toward Michael with feline grace.
     “I cannot believe it. What is it about a simple tie that still clots your fingers?”
     Michael had never admitted to Simon that he knew a thing or two about knots, except tacitly, on the occasions when he’d applied them to a silken cord around a bed dowel. Now he stood helpless while his partner moved behind him and began to finger the buttons on his shirt.
     “First, you know, the shirt needs fastening.”
     Michael felt Simon’s closeness at his back as he’d feel the heat from a raging fireplace, and his groin flared, huge and ready. “Please, love, would ye mind?” His prick was almost shouting, I need to fuck ye! But Michael had learned through the painstaking process of living with Simon that he’d best not show his hand so soon. After all, the man was brilliant and knew precisely what besides Michael’s burly arm lay up his sleeve.
     An’ what third fist is clenched in me pants.
     He looked down to watch Simon’s lithe fingers push buttons through embroidered holes, traveling upward, perhaps accidentally brushing a rigid nipple, until they rested near the collar. The fingers seemed to move as if the air were thick as cottage soup…slow, light as pillow down…and then they found both ends of the tie. As if mesmerized, he saw those fingers stroke the mohair. An instant electric spark resonated from his gut to his asshole.
     As his companion began to fold the ends into a wide Windsor, the blood fast pumping to his groin forced his turgid cock through the still-open fly. It seemed to erupt as a race horse would bolt from the starting gate. As he turned, Simon’s arms still circling his chest, he seemed to be accepting a lover’s tacit embrace.
     Thank God, Simon did not move backward as he half-expected. Michael slid both hands around his neck, just under the jaw, letting his thumbs play with the windpipe. He heard the other man gasp a little, felt the explosion of air as he traced the moving lips with his darting tongue, then bent the head back while he wetly explored a ready mouth.
     Simon did not try to wrest his body from Michael’s insistent cock as they kissed. Incredibly, his groin, a little lower than his own engorged prick, met his like a jackhammer. Hard, insistent, no feather-soft surface anywhere now. Just two hungry men whose hands were moving on each other’s ass…jagged breaths and ravening mouths sampling the skin of the other’s lips…now the cheeks, the ears, the hollow of throats…
     Simon moaned, a sound that served only to madden his wanting prick. He picked up the man with both oversized hands grasping his rounded buttocks and began to carry him to the bedroom...

Author Bio:
Erin O’Quinn earned a BA (English) 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 has published six M/M novels and three novellas with AmberQuillPress and two independent M/M novels.

Her series titled “The Gaslight Mysteries” includes Heart to Hart, Sparring with Shadows, To the Bone. and Thin as Smoke.

Erin's indie books are NEVADA HIGHLANDER and THE KILT COMPLEX, both very well received.

In addition to these Amber Quill Press and indie books, Erin has thirteen other published novels. Of those, two are M/M historicals published by Siren Bookstrand, set in the Ireland of badass clansmen, cattle drovers, druids, Saxon mercenaries and St. Patrick himself.

Thin as Smoke

Heart to Hart

Sparring with Shadows

To the Bone


  1. Oh wow--this sounds like an awesome series! I'll need to go check out the first one--great review!

  2. Dear Heather, First of all, this entire presentation is awesome. It betrays hours of careful work, a real attempt to explore the novel and the world of Erin O'Quinn. I thank you!

    You have put your fine finger on the most important theme I wanted to explore ... not just the complex interrelationship between Michael and Simon, but also the nexus of emotions among all three of these men and what those emotions tell us about each character. Wow, I love your insight and your very perceptive writing.

    I, too, am half-ass in love with Sam Hammett. His character in the novel came through to me after reading several of his early works, notably the Continental Op. But The Glass Key and the Maltese Falcon also revealed the man behind the mask.

    Thank you for everything—the great rating, the insights, the skillful presentation and the writing itself. It's a rare day I get all these in one review. What more can I say, except :D :D and I hope those emoticons translate into my huge smile of appreciation!!!!!