Author: Victor J. Banis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: Does murder follow Tom and Stanley around, or do they follow the murders?
After a hospital stay, Stanley is invited by Father Brighton to convalesce at St. Marywood, an isolated monastery on the ocean cliffs of Big Sur. Upon arrival, Stanley finds Father Brighton dead. The order’s doctor writes it up as a death by natural causes, but those seem to be quite prevalent at the monastery. The recent demise of a young brother who fell from the cliffs is described as an accident, but Stanley’s nose is twitching. Plus the order’s finances have taken a sudden, mysterious turn for the better. Is something rotten at St. Marywood?
Stanley and Tom can’t resist digging around even if it means testing their tumultuous relationship against a gaggle of handsome, young, virginal, and—they are told—gay men.
Review: Before I could begin A Prayer for the Dead, book seven in the Tom and Stanley Mystery series, I dug into the vault of and read the first six books. Each of the books are page turners, with danger, humor, a variety of murder suspects, and unique plots. If you really like murder mysteries, this series offers everything from drag queens to friars in monasteries, and a lot more in between. Even the first book, Deadly Nightshade (which suffered from horrible editing), held my attention to the very last word (but don’t worry, the editing has gotten better).
But the reason I mention the previous six books in the series is because this isn’t only a continuing series about Tom Danzel and Stanley Korski. Stanley’s best friend Christopher Rafferty, and Carl Hunter from a previous book(s), finally get to meet in A Prayer for the Dead. In this book, we find Stanley and Chris making a trip to St. Marywood at the invitation of Father Brighton, a friend of Christopher’s. This in itself is different because Stanley and Chris do some investigating of their own when they discover Father Brighton dead. I was impressed by how well Stanley and Chris did as a team. When Stanley finally gets to fill Tom in on all his findings, they put their heads together about the murders and find themselves on a road trip to Mexico. They come up with several possibilities, but are really surprised by the outcome, just as I was.
What I find extremely interesting in this series is Tom and Stanley. Even though they are really good at solving mysteries, they really haven’t solved the mystery of their relationship. Tom still considers himself straight, but he loves Stanley. Stanley has been the only man that Tom has been attracted to, and he has a great need to protect Stanley, but he’s really “not interested in anything gay,” and the temptation for women still crops up at times. Stanley is gay and proud of it, but he always has his doubts that Tom will leave him for the straight life. Tom doesn’t want to go to gay clubs or hang with Stanley’s friends–Chris is the only one Tom has made a friend of–and both have walked the fine line of temptation.
Even though Tom has made some changes, I really like Stanley’s character best. He has really grown throughout the series. Out of his love for Tom, he has come up against some hard decisions, and sometimes I question whether or not they will make it as a couple.
I was entertained by the entire series, and I look forward to the next mystery from Mr. Banis to see what he has in store for Tom and Stanley.
You can buy A Prayer for the Dead here: