I’m on the Gay Mystery Podcast!

Another treat this week! I’m the featured author on the Gay Mystery Podcast, which debuts today. I had a fun, delightful interview with Brad Shreve, the creator and host of the podcast, all about Jamie Brodie and the mystery series. You can listen to it right here:

Gay Mystery Podcast with Meg Perry

Dot Com

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Drugged to Death is now available!

Woohoo!!! A day early! Drugged to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #20, is now available in e-book format through both Amazon and Smashwords. Other e-reader platforms will probably be available by tomorrow; print will take a couple more days.

Called out in the middle of the night.
Pete Ferguson’s call is from his sister; their dad has collapsed and is in intensive care. Pete flies to Tucson to be at his bedside. Jamie Brodie was already concerned for Pete’s emotional well-being, and his worries only grow each time he talks to Pete – who seems to be gradually falling apart.
Kevin Brodie’s call is from his boss, Tim Garcia; there’s been a double overdose at the Powell Library at UCLA. When the standard drug screens come back negative, Kevin and Jon Eckhoff go on the hunt to identify a new pharmaceutical killer.
When Kevin and Jon’s quest leads them in a direction they couldn’t have imagined, Jamie gets answers to some old questions, and is left with two more mysteries.
How is everything that’s happening in LA connected to New Mexico?
And will he and Pete make it through this crisis in one piece?

Cover small

Jamie Brodie Mystery #20

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A snippet from Drugged to Death

Just a little something to whet your appetite. Nine more days!

As Bill Frazier had predicted, there wasn’t much that was helpful in Rick Ramsey’s personnel file. There were, however, a couple of intriguing findings.

Ramsey’s one-page resumé was included. Jon read it, frowning, then waved the page at Kevin. “Why would a guy with a master’s degree in public health turn to truck driving?”

“He has a master’s degree?”

“Yup. Bachelor’s in health science and a master’s in public health, both from Sacramento State.”

“Maybe the money was better. Maybe he had the urge to travel.”

Jon snorted. Kevin said, “Yeah, I don’t believe that either. Whoever’s staging all of this called his old buddy Rick and ordered him to change careers.”

“Probably paying him over and above what he’s making from Southland.”

“That, or he knew something about Rick that was coercive. Are his references listed there?”

“Nope, says ‘on request.’ Do you have ‘em?”

Kevin scanned through the employment application. “Here they are.” He laid the page where both he and Jon could see it. “You want to do the talking?”

“With pleasure.” Jon dialed the first number, and put his phone on speaker.

The voice that answered was male, raspy, and elderly. “Yell-ow.”

“Hello. Is this Mr. Burmeister?”

“That’s right. Who’s this?”

“This is Jonathan Eckhoff with the City of Palmdale, California. I’m calling about Rick Ramsey. He’s applied for a part-time job as a coach in our city’s recreation department, and I’m checking his references.”

Kevin chuckled at the smoothness of Jon’s deception. Burmeister said, “A coach, eh? Well, I never knew Rick to have anything to do with kids, but I reckon he’d be okay.”

“How do you know Mr. Ramsey?”

“I was his neighbor for a couple of years before he moved down there. Nice guy, no wild parties. Had a few girlfriends.” Burmeister chuckled. “Lookers, all of ‘em. But never caused any problems.”

“Mr. Ramsey never had any trouble with the law that you were aware of?”

“Nope. Kept his nose clean, from what I could tell.”

“Is there anything else you can tell us about Mr. Ramsey that might help us make the hiring decision?”

“Naw. Only knew him for the past couple of years, but he seemed okay.”

“All right. Thanks for your time, Mr. Burmeister.” Jon said goodbye and hung up.

Kevin said, “Only knew him for two years.”

“Mm hm. Not much to go on there.” Jon dialed the next number.

A woman’s voice answered, “Alameda County Public Health Department.”

Jon raised an eyebrow at Kevin. “Hello, this is Detective Jonathan Eckhoff with the Los Angeles Police Department. Could I speak with Leslie Chambers?”

“Do you know which department she’s in?”

“No, ma’am, I’m sorry.”

“Okay, hold on.” There was a click, and Jon and Kevin were treated to a repeating series of admonitions, in both English and Spanish, about vaccinating their children and getting their flu shots.

Kevin said, “Alameda County.”

“What about it?”

“Jason Poe was from the Bay Area before he moved to Alamogordo.”

“Huh. Think Poe and Ramsey knew each other?”

“Dunno. But if they were both working for the owner of the conversion camp…maybe.”

The phone clicked again, and the woman’s voice returned. “I’m sorry, sir. Ms. Chambers doesn’t work here anymore.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Could you transfer me to your human resources department?”

“Sure. Hold on.”

Jon and Kevin waited through another message about vaccinations. Then a different woman said, “HR.”

Jon introduced himself. “We’re doing background on a potential witness to a crime down here, and we believe that he used to work for you. The name is Rick Ramsey.”

“He’s not a current employee?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Okay, hold on.”

They held on. Kevin said, “If this keeps up, I’m gonna have to go find someone’s kid to vaccinate.”

Cover small

Jamie Brodie Mystery #20

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Drugged to Death cover reveal!

Here it is, coming two weeks from today! Cover and blurb:

Called out in the middle of the night.

Pete Ferguson’s call is from his sister; their dad has collapsed and is in intensive care. Pete flies to Tucson to be at his bedside. Jamie Brodie was already concerned for Pete’s emotional well-being, and his worries only grow each time he talks to Pete – who seems to be gradually falling apart.

Kevin Brodie’s call is from his boss, Tim Garcia; there’s been a double overdose at the Powell Library at UCLA. When the standard drug screens come back negative, Kevin and Jon Eckhoff go on the hunt to identify a new pharmaceutical killer.

When Kevin and Jon’s quest leads them in a direction they couldn’t have imagined, Jamie gets answers to some old questions, and is left with two more mysteries. 

How is everything that’s happening in LA connected to New Mexico?  

And will he and Pete make it through this crisis in one piece?

Cover small

Jamie Brodie Mystery #20

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What day is it again?

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Alhassan Abdul-Manan [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

It hit me yesterday, when I was trying to figure out the date to write on a check. (Yes, I still have to write checks a couple of times a month.) Today – April 21 – is one month before May 21.

Duh, you might say. What’s May 21?

It’s the publication date for Drugged to Death. 😀

Thought that would make you happy.

I hope you all are safe and well. I’ve been working from home since March 18 – a luxury afforded to me by virtue of being an academic librarian. Best job in the world. But the days do tend to run into each other. I can usually tell you what day of the week it is, but dates have occasionally escaped me.

Not today!

May 21 will be a double treat. Not only will Drugged to Death hit the virtual bookstands that day, but I’ll also be interviewed by Brad Shreve on the Gay Mystery Podcast. Which you should be listening to, if you’re not. It’s a fantastic resource for all sorts of new-to-me (and some not so new) gay mysteries and a fun look at the process for other writers.

So mark May 21 on your calendar! I’ve ordered up the cover from my graphic designer, and I’ll show it to you as soon as I can.

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New short story: In Flagrante

This takes place late last summer, after Jamie and Pete have been back from New Mexico for a few weeks. It’s a hint at one of the plot lines in the next Jamie Brodie Mystery, Drugged to Death, coming in May. Enjoy!

It was Melanie Hayes’s 39th birthday. Neil Anderson, Mel’s law partner, and his husband Mark Sivak were throwing a big birthday bash on the weekend, but we didn’t want to allow the actual day to pass without a celebration of some sort.

Ali and Mel’s favorite hangout was El Caribe, a straight-friendly gay club in Venice. After ensuring that we wouldn’t encounter speed dating, and possibly Stephen Atcheson, we arranged to gather for dinner and drinks after work.

When Pete and I got there, Ali and Mel were already at a big table in the far corner with Jon and Liz. Kevin and Kristen arrived shortly thereafter. When our beers, margaritas, pina coladas, etc. arrived, I lifted my glass. “Happy birthday, Mel. You’re finally caught up to the rest of us.”

Mel was the baby of our grade school friend group, three months younger than Ali and me. She laughed. “Not for long. Robbie turns forty in November.”

Robbie Harrison, the fourth member of our Four Musketeers from fourth grade through middle school. He was now a forensic accountant in San Diego. Ali said, “We should all descend on his office that day. Drag him out to do something fun.”

The conversation led to regaling Pete, Kristen, Jon, and Liz with tales of our childhood exploits. After a couple more drinks and a full glass of water, my bladder was calling to me. I said, “I’ve gotta hit the head.” I held a finger in front of Liz’s nose. “You, don’t touch my drink.”

Liz spluttered indignantly. Jon said, “Never fear. The LAPD will protect your property.”

The men’s room was busy; I had to wait a minute for a urinal. As I did, my gaze came to rest on the first stall – or what I could see of it, below its metal wall. It was occupied by two guys. One was standing with his back to the door; the other was on his knees, apparently servicing the first.

Whatever. El Caribe wasn’t known as a pickup bar, but it had been known to happen.

A couple of other guys had noticed; one raised an eyebrow at me as he walked past. I shrugged and headed for the urinal that he’d just vacated.

By the time I was finished, the rest of the customers had washed their hands and left the room. I zipped up to the sound of someone’s orgasm – apparently the guy who was standing, since I could see that the one on his knees was pumping himself. He finished just as I reached the sink.

I washed my hands thoroughly, finding myself voyeuristically curious about the couple in the stall, and a tiny bit turned on. As I was yanking paper towels from the dispenser, the stall door opened, the culprits came face to face with me – and my arousal instantly died.

One was a cute young twink with blond hair sticking up in tufts and red, swollen lips.

The other was Paul Thayer.

Paul was married to Aaron Quinn, one of Pete’s best friends from their days on faculty at Santa Monica College. Pete had been Aaron’s best man at his wedding to Paul, six months before our own. But for a couple of years now, Paul had been intermittently cheating on Aaron. I knew they were in couples therapy as a result.

Unsuccessfully, it seemed.

I recovered from my shock first and dried my hands. “Hiya, Paul.”

Paul’s eyes were darting around like a trapped animal. He was looking at anything but me. He said, “Um. Jamie.”

“You’re a long way from home.” Paul and Aaron lived in Pasadena.

He laughed weakly. “Yeah. Well.”

The twink was eyeing me with more than academic interest. “You’re cute.”

“I’m married.” I nodded at Paul. “So is he.”

Oh.” The twink glared at Paul. “You didn’t tell me that.”

Paul smirked at the kid. “Would it have mattered?”

Twink squared his shoulders in an attempt to reclaim his dignity. “Fuck, yeah. I don’t do married guys.” He moved to a sink and washed his hands.

Paul, having recovered his senses somewhat, turned bitchy. “What are you doing here?”

“Celebrating a friend’s birthday. We come here all the time. I guess I don’t have to ask what you’re doing here, 25 miles from home.”

Twink shook water from his hands and dried them. “Where does he live?”

I said, “Pasadena.”

“He told me he lived in Santa Monica.”

“I bet he did.” I balled up the damp paper towels in my hand and zinged them into the trash can. “I bet he told you he has an oceanfront condo, all to himself, and how lonely it is.”

Paul’s face was crimson. Twink stared at me. “How do you know that? Did he tell you that before?”

I laughed. “Hell, no. I’ve known ol’ Paul for a long time. He’s not very original.”

Twink crossed his arms. “So there is no oceanfront condo?”

“Oh, sure, there’s a condo. But it’s not Paul’s. He works in real estate. He has access to all kinds of properties.”

“Thank you.” Twink jabbed a forefinger in Paul’s direction. “And fuck you.” He spun and stalked out of the restroom, banging the door open.

Paul, to his credit, didn’t respond to the kid. He said, “Jamie. You can’t tell Aaron.”

“Why shouldn’t I? He deserves to know that you’re cheating on him again.”

“But he’ll leave me.”

“Well, yeah, Paul. Because you’re a dishonest asshole. He can do far better than you.”

Paul was whining now. “But I love him!”

I waved my hand at the restroom. “So this is how you demonstrate that?”

“Listen. I need lots of sex. Aaron and I…well…the spark just isn’t there anymore. You and Pete have been married almost as long as we have. You must know what I’m talking about.”

I did, but I would never admit it to this jerk. “And yet you told Aaron you didn’t want an open relationship. There’s only one question here, Paul. Who’s gonna tell Aaron about tonight? You or me?”

Paul’s face darkened. “You’d do that? Ruin my life? Ruin Aaron’s life?”

“Aaron’s life is already ruined.” Paul started to babble, and I held up a finger. “Shut it. Here’s what’s gonna happen. In a couple of days, Pete will call Aaron for an unrelated reason, and in the course of the conversation ask how it’s going in counseling. If Aaron doesn’t tell Pete that you’ve filled him in on your weekend activities, then Pete will tell Aaron.” I spread my hands. “Your choice.”

Paul’s expression was thunderous. He snarled. “Fine. I’ll tell him.”

“See that you do. And you might want to find out if this place has a back door.” I turned on my heel and left the restroom.

When I reached our table, the conversation skidded to a halt as seven faces caught my facial expression at the same time. Ali said, “Uh oh.”

Pete said, “What?”

I dropped into my seat. “Guess who was in the men’s room, receiving a hummer from a barely legal kid?”

Liz said, “Not Stephen Atcheson.”

I nearly choked on my drink. “God, no.”

Pete didn’t have to guess. “Paul Thayer.”

“Yup.”

“That asshole.”

Kevin said, “He’s the home staging guy, right? Fixed up your dad’s house to sell?”

Pete said, “Right. He’s also married to my friend Aaron Quinn. I was Aaron’s best man. They’re in counseling, supposedly working through Paul’s cheating and dishonesty.”

Liz said, “Doesn’t seem to be helping.”

I said, “Mel. Listen. If Paul contacts you, asking you to represent him in a divorce, please say no. If you take anyone’s case, take Aaron’s.”

Mel nodded. “Give Aaron my number. Is Paul the primary breadwinner?”

Pete said, “Yes. Paul is one of the top home stagers in LA. He makes at least twenty times as much as Aaron.”

Ali grinned, nudging Mel with her shoulder. “You’ll enjoy this one.”

Mel tossed back a mouthful of margarita and thumped the glass onto the table. “You betcha.”

I said to Pete, “I told Paul that if he didn’t tell Aaron, we would. That you’d call Aaron in a couple of days to talk about something else and ask him how counseling was going, and if Aaron didn’t know, you’d tell him.”

Pete was aghast. “I’m not gonna tell him on the phone.”

“Of course not. You and he will meet for coffee or something.”

Pete scrubbed his face with his hands. “Uurrrgggghhhhh.”

Kristen said, “I’m guessing there’s no open relationship.”

I said, “No. Aaron offered one, and Paul refused. Said he wanted monogamy.”

Kevin was disgusted. “Is he one of these who doesn’t consider blow jobs as cheating?”

Pete said, “No. I’m sure they’ve both made their expectations clear in counseling. At this point, the dishonesty is worse than the cheating.”

Kristen said, “Aaron can’t trust Paul anymore.”

Pete scowled into his beer. “Nope.”

 

Paul must have found the back door; he didn’t appear. Our conversation gradually swung to other topics, and we ended the evening on a lighter note. When we got home, our yellow Lab, Ammo, leaped to his paws in delight and began dancing around us. Pete groaned.

I said, “The joys of parenthood. Come on. A walk will help me sober up.”

We took our usual route, around the corner to Arizona Avenue. I said, “Do you think I did the right thing, with what I told Paul?”

“Yes.” Pete sighed. “Ideally, it’ll scare Paul into telling Aaron himself.”

“Yeah. I’d prefer that too.” We walked in silence for a minute. “They’re not gonna make it, are they?”

Pete said, “I don’t think so. Knowing Aaron, frankly, I’m surprised he’s stayed this long.”

“I guess Paul will keep the penis collection.” Paul and Aaron’s house was decorated with penile art in various media and styles.

Pete snorted. “I expect so.”

“It’s such a shame.”

“I know. I feel terrible for Aaron.”

“So do I, but not just that.” I stopped as Ammo added his signature to a telephone pole. “People fought so long and so hard for same-sex marriage. And for someone like Paul to treat it like it meant nothing, to throw it away… It’s maddening.”

“Agreed. And it plays right into the hands of the opposition. ‘See? The gays aren’t stable enough for marriage.’”

I kicked at a pebble. “I still believe, though, in the long run, our divorce rates will be lower.”

“So do I. But those stats won’t be available for a while.”

I nudged him with my shoulder. “I’m never divorcing you.”

He laughed. “Good to know. I’m never divorcing you either.”

I started to sing – softly, so the people in the houses we passed didn’t think we were nuts. “We’ve been together since way back when…”

Pete laughed and joined in. “Sometimes I never want to see you again…”

We sang out when we got to the chorus. “You’re still the one…”

 

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Status: Plotting

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Alhassan Abdul-Manan [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Happy new year, everyone! I hope the first week of 2020 has treated you well.

2020. Wow. In Jamie Brodie’s alternate universe, the final book of the series, Resigned to Death, began yesterday. (It doesn’t end until June. The final book is gonna be LONG.)

The next-to-final book, Drugged to Death, is finished. I think. My writing group still has to read the final section of it and critique, then it needs to be edited. It will be released on Thursday, May 21st, which is the day that I will be appearing on the Gay Mystery Authors podcast. That’s how far in advance I had to book my spot on the podcast! I hope you’re listening; it’s a terrific source if you want to discover new-to-you gay mysteries.

Right now I’m working semi-feverishly on the second book in the Space Coast Mysteries series, Three Thousand Miles. Writing Greg and Justin is very different from writing Pete and Jamie. I don’t know them as well and they’re not living in my head like Jamie does. Which is good, in some ways. That book will be out in March, I think, at least well before Drugged to Death.

I promise that you’ll see more of Jamie after Resigned to Death. The first 21 books are what my editor refers to as “canon.” I’ve been thinking, however, that Jamie will have a new adventure about every other year after (spoiler alert?) he and Pete move to New Mexico. The first one will actually be a prequel: Jamie’s first case, back in Oceanside.

The alternate universe will continue, however, with the Kevin Brodie Mysteries. Some of these will be gay mysteries; some of them won’t. But all will feature Kevin and Kristen, Jon and Liz, Max and Jill, Susan Portman, Clinton, and the rest of the LA gang. I’m going to continue with the …To Death title format; the first Kevin Brodie Mystery will be Painted to Death. Coming in 2021.

So! What are your plans for the year? 😀

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