** New edition 2016 (revised/re-edited) **
Heart to Hart #1
Two unlikely men meet in 1923 Ireland.
Michael McCree seems to be a newspaperman, running from a past in Boston. He’s a lover of men and a drinker of whiskey, and yet one with some surprising depths and one huge secret.
Simon Hart is a surly, angry, altogether closeted and touch-me-not fellow, a Cambridge-educated private investigator whose business partner has been murdered. He meets Michael in a newspaper shop when turning in an obit notice.
They clash. Fisticuffs fly. And before Simon knows what’s happened, he’s gained a new flat-mate, a new business partner, and a wanna-be lover. It’s the “wanna-be” that drives the present story…and all that follow.
Sparring with Shadows #2
Something about Simon Hart’s new PI partner Michael McCree—not to mention his secret vocation—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…as the quarry in a deadly confrontation in an exhibitionist’s bed…and finally 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 randy yet secretive partner through the very cracks in a city of gaslights and vintage motorcars, into a hidden homosexual culture, as both men find themselves sparring with shadows.
To The Bone #3
The time is 1923, and the place is a fantasy city in Ireland.
Private eyes Michael McCree and Simon Hart 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 and take care of the interfering Moshe, while driving their own intense relationship all the way to the bone?
Thin as Smoke #4
Even after three Gaslight Mystery novels—on the first anniversary of their meeting—uptight, closeted Simon is still more out of than into Michael’s bed. And now a thin but attractive man emerges from the smoke of the gay pub Paddy’s.
It’s Dashiell Hammett. And he’s not there for an autograph signing. His presence is the catalyst for a profound change in the lives of both 1920s private eyes as they face Mafia bootleggers, careless revolvers, and the dead end of their ever-edgy partnership.
Hammett’s unexpected arrival forces the PIs to work apart. Simon, jealous of the stranger’s ties with his sometime-lover, must act alone to track down a group of dedicated criminals. Michael, remembering his uneasy past with the hollow-chested operative, barely manages to keep his wits after discovering the disappearance of his partner.
Masters of Cane #5
There is something evil afoot in the growing city of Dun Linden, Ireland (1924) where private dicks Michael McCree and Simon Hart have a PI agency. No one has hired them this time, as they find their neighbors and their own tiny spy network in grave danger from a group of thieves who would rather slit a throat than pick an honest pocket; and an old nemesis who has a score to settle with both of them.
When the peril grows too grave for two men to handle, they call on a few trusted friends and some unusual weaponry to help in a case where they are outnumbered—but never outwitted.
The always-edgy partnership of the two investigators also undergoes some twists and turns … of fate and canes alike.
Books #1-3 on May 18, 2014:
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 these entries. 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. As I write this I am thinking that it had more to do with me not letting go of the previous book before starting this series and less of the slang language, but whatever the reason, after that first chapter 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 debates. 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 a captivating pair that I look forward to read many times over.
Thin as Smoke #4 on February 19, 2015:
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.
Masters of Cane #5 on February 2, 2016:
Masters of Cane begins less than 24 hours after Thin as Smoke ended and once again Simon wakes before Michael with his ongoing internal debate over their relationship still percolating, though he does seem to come to his wants and needs faster than usual. But nothing comes easy for this lovely duo and this time they find their little friend Squeak the one possibly in danger.
Michael McCree has always seemed a bit on the me first side, at least on the surface, but he truly cares for those in his life and that includes Squeak and Copper as well as Simon and Sam. Yes, Dashiell "Sam" Hammett returns and this time Simon may still hold some elements of jealousy for the history Sam shares with Michael but he also comes to see Sam as his friend too.
There may not be a paying client this time but they do have friends and neighbors to protect and they do it as only Simon and Michael can, with a little ingenuity, spontaneity, and passion. Another great entry in the Gaslight Mysteries.
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.
Heart to Hart #1
Sparring with Shadows #2
To the Bone #3
Thin as Smoke #4
Masters of Cane #5