Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Deadly Dreams 400 x 255 2nd VersionVictor J. Banis is a prolific writer as well as one of the most versatile and entertaining writers today. In recent years he has given us such gems as Longhorns, Angel Land, as well as the recent Deadly Series of mysteries. Deadly Dreams is the third installment in the series of mystery novels featuring the duo of Stanley Korski and Tom Danzel. In many ways it is the most satisfying book yet of the series. For those who may not be familiar with the series, the two met in the first book, Deadly Nightshade, when the openly gay San Francisco police officer Stanley Korski was teamed with the ‘straight’ Tom Danzel to solve a series of crimes involving gays.

In Deadly Dreams we find Tom has retired as a San Francisco Police Department detective and he and Stanley have become partners in a private investigation agency. They have also become partners in another way as they are now living together even though Tom is still loathe to openly admit the relationship. Following a prologue that ties the whole book together, Deadly Dreams begins with the death of Stanley’s father. Stanley is forced to take a closer look at his past only to discover that things he had always considered to be fact, were not fact at all. His discovery of a family member Stanley never knew existed, takes him on a dark and twisted journey through his childhood in order to unravel not only a past mystery but also a present day mystery. Stanley discovers that little, if anything, from his past was as he had thought it was when growing up. And through this labyrinth of discovery, Tom is right there beside Stanley, protecting him.

Deadly Dreams however should be classified more as a thriller than a mystery as the reader is aware from the first of the book just who the killer is. This does not detract in any way from the book however as there are plenty of tense moments. Banis masterfully keeps the reader on the edge of the seat in this page-turner and even though we may know ‘whodunnit’ from the start, there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way. But as good as the mysteries are in this series of books, the ever changing relationship between Tom and Stanley is what especially keeps readers coming back for more. Reading Deadly Dreams, one is reminded not only what a wicked wit Banis possesses, as well as what a master of wordplay Banis can be, but one is also reminded just what an urbane writer Victor Banis is in his cultural references, such as the references to the 16th century Italian painter Agnolo Bronzino. Without giving away too many secrets, romance lovers will be highly satisfied with Deadly Dreams, though the destination is not arrived at without some scrapes and bruises to the relationship.

The Deadly series of mysteries started off really good, and each subsequent book has gotten better, so if you like edge-or-the-seat psychological thrillers, or you are a fan of romance, this book should not be missed. And if you are a fan of both you will find Deadly Dreams to be doubly good.


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dc3851c88da0f4fd0bc6d110_aa240_l3It takes a very talented author to pen over 150 diverse and very entertaining books over the course of a career spanning a little less than 50 years, but it takes an exceptionally talented writer to write a sci-fi adventure book that both keeps the reader on the edge of the seat and at the same time is very unsettling and dark and is a tale that one day could be closer to fact than fiction. With his latest novel, Angel Land, this is exactly what the prolific Victor Banis has done.

Angel Land is a dark and cautionary tale of what can happen when a state sponsored religion is wielded as a cudgel of power and retribution over the populace. Set in the late 21st Century, much of the United States has been cordoned off, by the state sponsored church, into the Fundamental Christian Territories such as the area called Angel Land – nothing more than a ghetto for gays, who are blamed for bringing the Sept virus into the world – the latest strain of the HIV virus. It is a land where Jews, Catholics and even Baptists are branded heretics and are kept in line through terror applied under the guise of religion. Inevitably parallels must be drawn to such travesties of a recent century as Hitler’s Warsaw ghetto as Banis weaves a plausible and chilling tale of what can happen when the true Church and other good people turn their backs and allow those who wield power for evil to take charge. Banis draws the line between religion and spirituality sharply and distinctly.

The story follows one Harvey Milk Walton, who is one of the most likable and interesting protagonists I have encountered in some time, as he enters Angel Land and through his actions and interactions with the residents of an section of Angel Land called the Casa, completely and irrevocably brings changes to the Zone of Perversion. Along the way Harvey meets many well fleshed out and memorable characters and even finds love, for the first time in his life, with someone who would seem to be the last person he would ever choose. In the broadest scope, Harvey Milk Walton represents mans indomitable spirit to overcome all adversity.

The book also contains quite interesting exploration of 20th Century San Francisco and many of it’s icons, including the Casto district and the Golden Gate Bridge as well as other points of interest. Though the subject matter is on one hand dark and disturbing and is a warning of what might come to be if we allow our civil liberties to slip away, on the other hand the author has always demonstrated his rare gift of being able to leaven even the darkest story with humor and with eternal hope. More than once I found myself chuckling out loud upon encountering one of Banis’ witticisms, such as the reference to one of Henry David Thoreau’s famous works.

It can scarcely be said of most writers that their work over an extended period of time just keeps getting better and better, but it is certainly true of Victor Banis in the opinion of this reviewer. I recommend Angel Land as highly as I have ever recommended a book. Angel Land is a crackling good, edge-of-the-seat adventure that is also an object lesson of what can happen if we as people don’t vigilantly guard our civil liberties, and should not be missed.

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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a voyeur as 1. A person who derives sexual gratification from observing the naked bodies or sexual acts of others, especially from a secret vantage point.

Voyeur is also a very hot and stylish story of romance and obsession by Jon Michaelsen, a wonderful new author. The story can be found in the MEN anthology on the Loveyoudivine His and His Kisses imprint from loveyoudivine Alterotica. 

The story follows Kevin, a gay accountant, who lives a rather mundane life before discovering a man in an adjacent high-rise that could well be his dream man. But what begins as an entertaining diversion, and a rather harmless fantasy soon spirals out of control to become a full-blown obsession. Along the way there is romance and steamy love to be found and enough Hitchcockian twists to make the master proud. (For fear of spoiling some of the suspense I am keeping the details rather vague). 

Voyeur is set in modern day Atlanta and Jon does a splendid job of evoking one of the most wonderful cities in America. Jon’s descriptive pictures make one feel as if they are truly there, cruising down Peachtree Street on a warm spring afternoon, the peach blossoms turning everything pink. (Having lived there for several years in the 1990s I was reminded of such diverse things as kudzu vines, the Allman Brothers Band at the Fox Theater, the Underground, MARTA, and going up to Seeger’s in Buckhead for one of the best meals ever!)

Jon Michaelsen is one of the exciting new voices in the all male romance genre, and will next year have his first gay detective novel published by loveyoudivine. I am predicting that Jon is poised to break out as one of the premier romance writers in the field of gay fiction, as well as the author of suspense novels that will not only keep readers in suspense, but will keep them anxiously awaiting his next book. I can highly recommend Voyeur along with the rest of the MEN anthology that I have read (which is admitedly only two other stories).

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It is certainly hard for me to believe that The Angel Singers is the twelfth book in the Dick Hardesty mystery series. It doesn’t seem that long ago that The Butcher’s Son kicked off this wonderful series with a tale of arson and mayhem, and introduced us to one of the most endearing, not to mention enduring gay investigators, Dick Hardesty.

The Angel Singers takes us into the world of a gay men’s chorus (and by the way gives quite good information and insight into that particularly fascinating world) and introduces us to a particulary nasty man named Grant Jefferson who happens to be sponsored by one of the choral group’s benefactors. It is not long however until Grant is scattered far and wide by a car bomb which lets the reader know there was some serious dislike for Mister Jefferson. Due to his nastiness there is no shortage of suspects for Dick to sift through on the way to revealing the somewhat surprising solution of this murder. 

However as entertaining as the solving of the crime is, it is in making the characters come to life that Grey really shines. Just like an elegant merlot chablais, this series has gotten better with time and age, each novel seeming to improve on the last to create a rich tapestry of not only Hardesty’s professional life, but also his home life.  Dick, Jonathan and the adorable Joshua are characters we have come to love and to really care about, and I find the home and family life is every bit as entertaining as the mystery. Grey is a master at writing tongue-in-cheek wit, and there is plenty of that to be found in The Angel Singers.

If you already love the Dick Hardesty series, as I do, you will love this one too, and if you have never read a Dick Hardesty book (and shame on you if you have not) this is as good as any of them as a place to start.

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