Murder is easy, if no one suspects you. – Agatha Christie
And now for something completely different.
Death on a Cold Night can’t technically be categorized as LGBT, though there are two short stories in the anthology with gay thematic elements: Lee Mullins’ “Burnt December” and Christalea McMullin’s “Club Pandemonium”. I’ve never read any of the contributing authors before, but I am familiar with Jess Faraday and her novel The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, an outstanding historical mystery that I’m ever so impatiently awaiting the sequel to. ::hint/hint::
The entire compilation is comprised of eight short stories:
Snow in Winter by Wendy Worthington is a story of murder and coercion on a Hollywood soundstage, when a movie producer turns up dead, and her ambitious assistant discovers the killer’s identity, then uses that knowledge to blackmail him for her own showbiz ambitions. – 3 Stars
In the Public Eye by Mark Hague tells the story of a man who witnesses something he shouldn’t have, and in the process of satisfying his unhealthy curiosity, discovers that his obsessive need to get to the bottom of the mystery could very well end up being the death of him, when he comes face to face with danger on a train. – 4 Stars
Lee Mullins’ Burnt December is the first of the gay themed short stories, and deals with a case of mistaken identity and the horrific death of a young man who’d tragically lost anything resembling a life, long before his body ever showed up in the morgue. The twist to this story is truly the definition of horror, but the ending can only be defined as happy for young Stanley. – 4 Stars
Cris de Borja’s A Theft of Teapots is a light little mystery with political undertones. When a variety of teapots begin to go missing, it appears there’s a serial thief on the loose. But things are not as simple as they seem when it’s revealed there’s a potentially explosive secret hidden inside the lid of one very important pot, a secret that could spell the end of two political campaigns. – 3 Stars
Storm of Mystery by Leonhard August is a story of international intrigue and Native American legend at the Tohono O’odham Center for Advanced Computational Research, where Dr. Dana Gibbs has just taken on the job of her deceased predecessor. The only question is whether she’ll survive long enough to fulfill her job as Associate Research Director, when mysticism and murder come calling. – 3 Stars
Emily Baird’s Death Benefits gives the reader a window’s eye view of exactly what elder abuse looks like. And it’s not pretty. Young SK (short for Stephen King Meyers-Colson) is the hero of this story, and it’s he and his siblings, as well as an unexpected paranormal visitor, who eventually come to the rescue of their neighbor Miss Tonnie. Much of the suspense of this story is built into the limitations of a child who must bear the burden of proof that things aren’t as they seem at Miss Tonnie’s house, and it worked perfectly. – 5 Stars
The Afternoon of the Storm by Kirk VanDyke is the story of two men who die in a mountain storm, but one of the men’s deaths begins to look a lot like murder at the hands of his friend after cyanide is discovered in his system. Until, that is, certain facts come to light when his sister comes to claim him and his belongings; then it begins to look very much like a tragic case of mental illness and suicide and accidental death. – 3.5 Stars
Finally, winding up the collection is the paranormal murder mystery Club Pandemonium by Christalea McMullin. When Lena witnesses the murder of her soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, Derrick, she vows to avenge his death in spite of the fact that he’d been cheating on her and she’d been planning to cut him loose anyway. Her discovery of his side activities leads her to the fetish club, where she discovers that he’s not as dead as she’d first thought. Then again, maybe he’s not quite alive either.
This is the second story in the compilation with gay themes, cloaked in the sexual fluidity of vampires. – 4 Stars
Each of the stories in this book is well worth the time to read, but as is the case with most anthologies, there was a standout story in this collection for me, Emily Baird’s Death Benefits. I loved the suspense of the story, as well as the paranormal angle, which was all carried out so well in the tension of the narrative. Not to mention the fact that SK was a sweet and wonderful hero.
Buy Death on a Cold Night from Elm Books