A gay cop investigates a string of murders as he puts his own life back together in this winning debut novel.
Nick Scott is a crackerjack Chicago police detective and the host of the city’s newest morning show, The Gay Detective, in which he interviews a different gay celebrity each week. When his first guest, author Harold Sapoti, is found dead, slumped over a stool (“The perp had placed Harold’s book on his butt, so that the first thing you saw was the title, Bottoms Up”), it looks like a clear-cut hate crime. But when other people close to Nick start turning up with their throats slashed and his own house is set ablaze, things look more personal. Then someone trashes the studio where Nick films his show and he discovers a dire warning: “a photo of my face marked with a large block red X that said YOU’RE NEXT!” As Detective Scott’s life deteriorates dramatically around him, he finds himself sharing a house with his new partner, the sweet-natured, heterosexual slob Detective Norm Malone; to put it mildly, they have very different views on housekeeping. With the help of Norm, Nick’s boss Lt. Brodsky, and an Indian dwarf named Dr. Jojo, Nick tries to both solve the case and his own problems. The mystery itself is a genuine puzzler, and although Michaels addresses some quite serious subjects, he frequently lightens the mood with a joke (or two, or three) when readers most need it. This technique occasionally falters through overuse, though, and readers may be left unsure how the violent homophobia of one chapter fits with the sitcom-style banter between upscale Nick and bargain-basement Norm in another. What isn’t in doubt, however, is both characters’ lovability—or the anxiousness that readers will feel as they hope for things to turn out all right. As Nick and Norm close in on a surprise suspect, the pages practically turn themselves.
Bodies keep piling up and things keep getting worse for Detective Scott, but readers will smile (and shiver) right to the end.