Even though gay reporter Mark Manning’s left Chicago behind, the editor/publisher of Wisconsin’s Dumont Daily Register finds life in the slow lane more eventful than he could have expected. Not only has local shopkeeper Grace Lord succeeded in attracting miniatures-king Carrol Cantrell, “a very big man in a very small world,” to Dumont to judge the exhibits in the Midwest Miniatures Society’s annual convention, but Mark and his close-knit allies are nervously watching the progress of an anti-porn bill spearheaded by opportunistic D.A. Harley Kaiser and that gay-baiting harpy Miriam Westerman, who almost wrecked Mark’s plan to adopt his orphaned cousin, Thad Quatrain, in Body Language (1999). The incongruous worlds of miniatures and pornography collide with a crash of tiny furniture when Cantrell is murdered—and soon after unmasked as the founding owner of Hot Head Video productions. Determined to shield barely uncloseted sheriff Douglas Pierce, who’d spent the preceding three nights with Cantrell, from suspicion as his killer, Mark keeps returning obsessively to the same short list of suspects—County Commissioner Dr. Benjamin Tenelli, who’s just warned that the local porn shop will frighten off tourists; Lt. Dan Kerr, the underling who wants Doug’s job; Miriam Westerman; and Grace Lord—and ignoring the obvious tip-offs: his steamy dreams and the school play Thad’s tried out for.
Craft sprinkles clues of every sort so generously, in fact, that most readers will find his latest outing a hundred pages too long.