Book Reviews

Dead On Your Feet (Stan Kraychik Mystery 3) by Grant Michaels at ReQueered Tales

Genre Gay / Historical / Recent (1990s) / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 23-January-2020

Book Blurb

Spring is in the air and Stan has been with his boyfriend, ballet dancer and choreographer, Rafik, for a year. Alas, jealousy rears its ugly head and Stan storms out of a dinner party given by the director of the ballet company. After crying himself to sleep, he is woken in the morning by Rafik’s phone call. Stani, there is great trouble. Max Harkey is dead.

Suspects abound. Two young ballet dancers, dating each other but both in love with a third unattainable person. The mistress of the company, whose niece was about to be the lead in Max’ next production before she fell and broke her hip. The houseboy who sends Stan’s sexual yearnings into a whole new direction. The financial backer who spends too much time at the ballet studio. Jason Sears the pianist, last seen near the original priceless music score. Toni di Natale, conductor who hangs all over Rafik whenever she is near him. And Stan’s lover, Rafik, who found the body.

Even Stan’s nemesis, the gorgeous straight cop, Lieutenant Vito Branco, wants Stan to solve this mystery. Can he do it and stay alive?

First edition published by St. Martin's Press, September 1993.

Note: A Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in 1994, this new edition includes a 2019 foreword by Charles Michelson.

Book Review

The gods above and beyond be praised for gay hairdressers (or hairdressers of any persuasion, as it were). Not that I’m in dire need of one (keyword: shaved head), but they did come in handy in my younger years as bedfellows and sometimes more. Plus, they make for perfect amateur sleuths, as long as the story is told by the late Grant Michaels. This is the third republished book of the Stan Kraychik series, and again, it was a treat.

So, gay hairdressers. Or rather, a gay hairdresser, Stan, who’d rather opt for the name “hair stylist”. Bostonian with Czech family roots (he’s very proud of his Slavic legs, which allow him to roam the city with great swiftness), owner of a cat, and of late happily in love with gorgeous ex-ballet dancer and nowadays choreographer Rafik, who’s working for the Boston City Ballet. Rafik is in the middle of creating his new choreography and therefore a bit more grumpy, jumpy, and secretive than normally. But Stan is so blissfully in love that he keeps a smile on his face. Until both are invited to a soirée given by the ballet company’s director, Max Harkey, a still hunky but insufferably arrogant man. And all through the evening, there’s tension. Not only between the invitees: Jason Sears and his gorgeous, red-haired vamp of a fiancée, conductor Toni di Natale; two up-and-coming young ballet dancers, of whom the female part is or has been Harkey’s lover and the male part is a closet case secretly in love with Harkey; Madame Ekaterina Rubinskaya, the ballet teacher, an eccentric old-world relic from czarist times; and Marshall Zander, longtime friend of Harkey’s and major benefactor of the ballet company. But also tension between our lovebirds Stan and Rafik, as the latter is shamelessly flirting with… Toni, of all people. A woman! Luckily, there is loads of ritzy booze, and luckily, there is Harkey’s gorgeous Brazilian houseboy Rico, with whom Stan flirts in return. Nonetheless, the evening ends with high drama as our lovers have a nasty row in front of all the evening guests, and Stan weeps himself to sleep, all alone in his cold bed.

Unsurprisingly, the next morning he wakes up with a major hangover and clouds of doubt and self-loathing hanging above his head. More surprisingly, what wakes him up is a phone call from his lover Rafik: the ballet company’s director is dead. Murdered in the wee hours of dawn. Now, Stan being Stan, he can’t help getting involved in the police investigation, once more conducted by pretty-faced, hunky-bodied Lieutenant Vito Branco. I won’t delve into the many twists and turns Stan experiences before he can expose once more the famous “whodunnit”. Suffice it to say that this is an easy and entertaining read. Don’t expect unnecessary drama, don’t look for violence or car chases. It’s one of those classic murder mysteries à la Agatha Christie where, together with the amateur sleuth, you gather hints and links and dig into the involved persons’ pasts and psychological traits. You get a limited handful of probable culprits and get to pick the most likely to have committed the crime(s)—minor spoiler: Harkey is not the only one who dies in this book.

What makes this such an enjoyable read is, of course, Grant Michaels’s writing. Well-paced, witty, with some parts that make you ponder and think. The second thing close to perfection is the MC main character, Mr. Hair Stylist Stan himself, who tells the tale in first person. He’s sweet, can be bitchy, of hilarious repartee, queer through and through (to the reader’s my utter delight), sometimes flimsy, self-aware, insecure, asking himself loads of questions about how a couple works, how to make it work, and what he’s ready to give up in order to hold on to his Love with a capital L, Rafik. Rafik, on the other hand, is a creative spirit; his actions may look enigmatic at the best of times, and he’s a rather unfathomable character. And yet, everybody keeps telling Stan how much Rafik loves him (despite his flirting with Toni), and Stan keeps asking himself, “Why would he love me, of all people?” And you can see the love between the two, as well. Very cute, not always straightforward, but interesting to explore while you read on. Yes, I admit, I liked this one even more than the first of the series I was allowed to read and review for GBR. If you like well-thought-through characters, a nice murder mystery, oddbally secondary characters, and loads of witty banter, this should absolutely go on your TBR.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the editor for the purpose of a review. This review was first published on Gay Book Reviews.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel
Heat Level
Publication Date 10-December-2019
Price $4.95 ebook
Buy Link