Book Reviews

A Body in a Bathhouse (A Mitch O'Reilly Mystery 1) by Brad Shreve at Beeson Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Private Investigator / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 02-November-2020

Book Blurb

On the verge of bankruptcy private investigator Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall. After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to running his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break. A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.

As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, playful bathhouse operator Trent Nakos enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.

Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.

This is a whodunnit mystery novel. While there is an element of romance, it is not a m/m romance novel.


Book Review

Mitch O’Reilly, after leaving the US Military Police Corps and getting his Private Investigator license, is now the rather hapless owner of Eye Spy Supply, a store where he sells “the latest surveillance equipment, computer monitoring devices, GPS trackers, and bug detectors”. He is still doing the odd investigation, too, in order to keep financially afloat. One day Attorney Eve Aiken waltzes in to hire him. Victor Verboom, staff writer for a successful TV comedy, has just been murdered in the Club Silver Lake bathhouse, and young custodian Ernesto Torres, his lover, has been arrested. The bathhouse manager, sizzling hot Trent Nakos, has asked Aiken to try to find evidence that Ernesto is innocent. Mitch accepts the job because, as always, he is in dire need of cash—he is two months late for the rent of his shop, after all. The first thing he discovers as he starts digging into Victor’s past is that Victor and his longtime companion Warren Barone, owner of a flower shop and inveterate gambler, have been leading an open and somewhat tumultuous relationship. Proof: Victor not only had an affair with young Ernesto but also with haughty and hunky Christian Freeman, a gogo-dancer. An intriguing fact for all three of them—Ernesto, Christian, and Warren—were in the bathhouse at the time of Victor’s death.


Little by little, obstinately, Mitch manages to gather clue after clue, and the circle of suspects grows. There is bathhouse Office Supervisor Seth Snider, for instance; or Heather Verboom, Victor’s daughter, and her aggressive fiancé Kevin Daniels; or Pam Hernandez, Victor’s sisters, and her husband Rodrigo, who has been seen in the bathhouse as well. And of course, Mitch finds motives aplenty: first of all, money. Victor was quite well-off, after all, and his companion Warren had gathered enormous gambling debts. Victor’s daughter and her boyfriend are living in quite squalid conditions. Then ambition: was Christian Freeman expecting Victor to launch him as the ultimate porn star? Thirdly, the fear of exposure: Rodrigo, Victor’s brother-in-law, is gay but as a financially successful and married businessman very much in the closet. Last but not least, Mitch cannot rule out that Ernesto is behind Victor’s untimely demise, either; the young man was deeply in love with Victor and turns out to be emotionally unbalanced. And what is Mitch to make of his unwanted attraction to Trent, who might be another suspect, after all?


This was an intriguing read, a murder mystery I would really define as unputdownable and a page-turner where I got plenty of clues but had the impression I remained clueless almost till the end. Of course, I followed the main character’s leads, which turned out to be dead ends (literally) one after the other. What I really liked was the tone of the book together with the sure and steady hand with which it was written—this seems to be Brad Shreves’s first novel, but it is already an accomplished book. The story is set in Los Angeles; not the postcard city tourists might encounter nor the glitzy enclave of Hollywood stars, but a grimy, grisly, pulsating, and sometimes dangerous metropolis that holds an important place in the plot. The interesting characters were the second element of note. Mitch O’Reilly tells the story in first person, and he is a man with a difficult past. His two stints in Afghanistan have left him wounded and scarred in many ways, and he is struggling to keep his head above water, not only financially but also morally and mentally. Yet he is an astute investigator, stubborn and nonjudmental at the same time. His main concern is to gather evidence not to base his job on clumsy suppositions.


The other characters felt just as real as he, with a special mention for sweet and hunky Trent, who could just be the one man to heal Mitch’s wound (yes, there’s a timid but cute romantic sub-plot that filled me with hope for the main character). Everyone had a story to tell, struggles to cope with (and more often than not, to hide), ambitions and hungers, edges and wounds. How pleasant it was to read a book that didn’t want to show me a pink-colored fictional bubble, but reality and modern-day life as it is. Most of the people in this novel simply try to get on with their lives as best as they can, which leads to some savory dialogs and sallies—for instance when Attorney Eve Aiken, a notorious homophobe, hires gay Mitch to investigate the murder of another gay man and says with a shrug, “it doesn’t matter which way the wind blows, as long as the cash is green”. An excellent read with blood, sweat, and tears as well as a hunt for the culprit that drew me in from the first page.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 411 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 14-March-2019
Price $4.99 ebook, $13.99 paperback
Buy Link