Gay talk show host and investigator Nick Scott and his straight colleague, Norm Malone, are enjoying some R and R after having just put away a serial killer. Meanwhile, legendary drag queen Sho Yu and her partner, Matt, are injured in a performance accident, and the police are already investigating the baffling suicides of multiple well-to-do people. Police Chief Raphael Perez asks the duo to aid with the investigations.
ONLY IN KEY WEST offers up a breezy beach read to entertain casual readers for a lazy day. A cozy mystery, the novel follows upbeat and somewhat humorous characters leisurely investigating a crime in a small offbeat community–author Kenneth D. Michaels focuses on the LGBT scene of Key West–where gossip abounds and hidden elements taint a picture-perfect exterior. With Nick on the rebound, due to the recent death of his longtime partner, Darren, he is quickly charmed by the hunky police chief and several effervescent and friendly drag performers.
While Nick’s budding romance is a pleasure, and his colleague also finds unexpected love, the mystery plot gets rather off track and slows down too much from its initial takeoff. And Nick comes across as unprofessional when he allows Raphael, whose work on the investigations is oddly lackluster, to seduce him, given that the chief has hired him as a consultant. Nick and another character also have some rather childish tantrums that lessen a reader’s ability to take them seriously, in addition to tired lines of sexual humor such as “You were an accessory to several lewd acts” and “I’ll Mirandize you.” It’s too bad the exciting action does not pick up again until much later. Nick and Norm again demonstrate their chops as detectives, but the mystery’s explanation comes largely out of the blue.
It would have been nice to incorporate the intriguing Key West drag scene more suspensefully, and to have more insightful clues of the nature of the underlying criminal activity, while making Nick and Raphael’s relationship more professional and meaningful. But the police investigations are otherwise realistic and some lively and whimsical characters are met along the way in this comical whodunit set in American paradise.
~Christopher James Dubey for IndieReader