Book Reviews

Love You To Death (Stan Kraychik Mystery 2) by Grant Michaels at ReQueered Tales

Genre Gay / Historical / Recent (1990s) / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 17-January-2020

Book Blurb

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and everyone has a sweetheart, except Stan Kraychik, Boston’s sassiest hairdresser. Ever hopeful of meeting Mr. Right, Stan attends a gala reception that culminates in a death by poisoning, and romantic problems take a back seat to murder. Then Boston police arrest Stan’s friend Laurett Cole, who leaves her four-year-old son in Stan’s care. In his quest to free Laurett from suspicion and himself from his ill-mannered ward, Stan finds himself exploring the secrets of a revered Boston institution, the Gladys Gardner Chocolate Company. There, along with the sweet edibles, he finds an assortment of not-so-delectable murder.

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

Note: A Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in 1993, this edition includes a new 2019 foreword by Frank W. Butterfield.

Book Review

It is always with unmitigated and genuine pleasure that I open a murder mystery written by Grant Michaels, and so far—this is the third I’ve read—I haven’t been disappointed. This time, it all begins with the gala reception of a brand-new chocolate venue, “Le Jardin Chocolatier”, held in a ritzy ballroom at the Copley Plaza Hotel. The main character, Boston hairdresser Stan “Vannos” Kraychik, attends the event together with his boss, Nicole Albright. He has been invited because he is the secret man behind the perfect hairstyles of the venue’s two managers, the überambitious, young and dashing Liz Carlini and the designer Dan Doherty. The evening goes as expected, local socialites mingling, downing drinks and nibbles, and chit-chatting themselves self-indulgently into mild oblivion. But instead of the planned highlight—the presentation of “Le Jardin’s” exquisite sweets—a man who shouldn’t even be there bites into a chocolate truffle… and drops dead. Poisoning by arsenic, the police discovers.

Fortunately for everyone except the person concerned, a culprit is quickly found and held for questioning: Laurett Cole, former receptionist at Nicole’s hairdresser’s salon, whom Liz has enticed away in order to manage the first “Le Jardin” shop. She has prepared the truffle platters, after all, and the uninvited dead man was her abusive on-and-off boyfriend. Stan seems to be the only one who doesn’t believe the young woman to be a murderess. As he has accepted to take care of her son, a four-year-old, precocious bundle of energy, while she is in custody, Stan has only one idea in mind: find the real villain as fast as possible in order to get his calm life back. Of course, the hunky police officer leading the investigation, Stan’s old acquaintance and seminemesis Lieutenant Branco, is not amused by his amateur sleuthing. But even he is forced to reconsider his preconceived “guilty” verdict when first Dan Doherty and then Liz’s rich husband, Prentiss Kingsley, heir of the Gladys Gardner Chocolate Company, are murdered and someone shoots at Liz’s house. But I trusted Stan Kraychik to a) solve the puzzling mystery and b) find himself a new, breathtakingly handsome beau in the process.

I have already said how much I enjoyed Grant Michael’s writing. His books are perfectly paced, the plots plausible, you get the right amount of suspense, and experience the thrill of following several leads while trying to find out “whodunnit”. This book was no exception. The main character is still as funny and bitchy as when I first encountered him in book one, still struggling to lose those odd excess pounds he seems to be gaining simply from breathing, still dreaming of finding his Prince Charming one day (he might stumble upon just that man in this book, but I will say no more), and still very proud of his long, Slavic limbs and his big and manly jaw, which “you’ll find it’s just a home for tongue and teeth and sass”, as he says himself. The dialogs are priceless and had me chuckling more than once (namely when Stan is talking with his boss Nicole or with Lieutenant Branco) as was the character of Tobias, the little boy, a cute wisecracker whirlwind who causes some of the funniest scenes of the book. Everyone, from the secondariest to the mainest character, if I may use these barbaric terms, is perfectly fleshed out, three-dimensional, believable, with the odd pinch of caricatural exaggeration that feels as if the author privately winked at you.

Another classic, this one. Those of you who love a good murder mystery of the gay persuasion, grab a copy (and don’t miss the other books of this series).





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by ReQueered Tales for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 296 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 13-September-2019
Price $4.95 ebook
Buy Link