Book Reviews

Time to Check Out (Stan Kraychik Mystery 5) by Grant Michaels at ReQueered Tales

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 23-October-2020

Book Blurb

It's October in Key West, as quiet as the tropical island will ever be. Or so thinks Boston salon star Stan "The Widow" Kraychik, who has recently lost his lover. Stan is grief-stricken, but he's also grotesquely wealthy, thanks to a landmark cash settlement to a domestic partner, as well as his dead lover's life insurance.

Instead of sanctuary in an off-season resort town, Stan finds himself in a fizzy, dizzy world that few tourists experience. The trouble starts when Stan is forced to change his guest-house. When he goes to settle his bill, the manager is on the floor of her office – dead by violence.

Never one to mind his own business, Stan discovers that the victim was embroiled in a legal battle over the estate of a Key West millionaire. As he meddles further into the investigation, he encounters an exotic lineup of suspects reminiscent of a circus sideshow. They may be worthy foils for Stan's melancholy, but he must also identify the killer before he becomes the next victim.

A Lambda Literary Awards Finalist, this new edition includes a foreword by Mark McNease (Outer Voices, Inner Lives).

First edition published by St. Martin's Press, August 1996.

Book Review

My favorite gay Bostonian hairdresser, Stan Kraychik, is now “The Widow” Kraychik. For his darker alter ego and lover, the handsome dancer Rafik, has been killed in a stupid car accident in Paris, France. Stunned by grief but a very rich man thanks to Rafik’s generous planning, Stan decides he needs a time-out and heads down to Key West, Florida. A good idea in theory, but a bit less if your skin doesn’t do well in the tropical sun and you’re not so keen on hot, muggy weather. Of course, Stan wouldn’t be Stan (and Grant Michaels wouldn’t be Grant Michaels, mystery writer extraordinaire) if he didn’t stumble over a corpse within a couple of pages. Augusta Willits, owner of the Crow’s Nest, the place where Stan has been staying for less than twenty-four hours before she threw him out without a reason, is dead. And by the looks of it, she didn’t die a natural death—unless she choked herself voluntarily with her own alarm clock, that is.


Now guess what Stan, nosy amateur sleuth if there ever was one, decides to do? Once again poke said nose in where it’s not necessarily wanted. He soon finds out that there are plenty of reasons to kill Mrs. Willits… and logically plenty of possible suspects as well. Augusta Willits was a meddlesome, quarrelsome, odious old woman, after all, whose late son, before dying of AIDS, had bequeathed his countless properties on the reef to several of his best friends. But Mrs. Willits had contested his will, threatening all those would-be heirs to be left high and dry. Amongst the quirky suspects there is the German real estate developer Adolf Dobermann; the ill-matched couple who owns the local travel agency, Joshua Aytem and Laura Hope; Jeri Tike, the local painter; the best-selling writer Edsel Shamb; the hot and handsome bartender cum hooker Ross; the raucous singer Cozy Dinette; wannabe actor Kenneth Kimble; and the Countess Anastasia Rulalenska, of ancient European nobility the origins of which she keeps as vague as she keeps the cigarettes in her cigarette holder unlit. They are all hiding things that only seem to have waited for snooping Stan to be uncovered… But his ferreting about turns out to be quite risky.


This is another brilliant whodunnit by the late Grant Michaels—I’ve grown very fond of this series ever since opening book number one. Truth be told, I was very cross at the beginning when I realized that the author had killed off Rafik, and this shocking news almost spoiled the pleasure of reading a Kraychik mystery. But little by little, as the different characters were introduced, I was drawn in once again and could finally enjoy the read. Michaels is a master of atmosphere, a writer who manages to create intriguing characters with just a couple of paint strokes and make them three-dimensional. Moreover, the grief adds some depth to the main character, Stan, who apart from some serious moping and questioning the sense of life remains the same old sharp-tongued, witty observer of his fellows and the same remorseless troublemaker for all those who have something to hide. He pokes, he prods, he asks blunt questions without stopping. There’s also a sweet holiday dilly-dallying hidden in the plot—to call it romance would be too much, I think—which gave it a nice twist.


Writing, pace, and cast of characters were as to be expected pitch-perfect. I was quite surprised, however, that even an accomplished writer such as the late Mr. Michaels could make one of those mistakes many English authors seem to make: when Stan borrows a bike, he starts “peddling” all over the reef when he should have been “pedalling”. Apart from that, the book is thoroughly proofread and edited and therefore a real pleasure to read. I can’t wait to discover the next—and as I understand last—installment in this awesome and entertaining series, which I recommend to all mystery lovers.





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, 337 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-September-2020
Price $5.95 ebook
Buy Link