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by Anthony Bidulka
Insomniac Press, April 2005
272 pages
ISBN: 1894663918

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Russell Quant is a cute 30-something ex-cop turned private investigator whose last case involved recovering a missing casserole dish. When he receives a call from one of Saskatoon's most influential men, he's curious about why the guy didn't contact a heavy-hitter for the job. But when Harold Chavell tells him that he was left standing at the altar by his husband-to-be, it becomes clear that Russell's being hired for his discretion and because he's gay, and not for his ace detecting skills.

Harold tells Russell that Tom, the runaway groom, used his honeymoon ticket to go to Paris. Harold wants Russell to follow Tom to France, confront him and find out what's going on. The catch is that the reservation Harold booked for Russell is for the next morning, leaving Russell no time at all to do any background work on the case before taking off. Russell agrees to take the case, and in short order he's chasing across France looking for Tom. A few events lead Russell to believe that he's not far behind Tom, but the meetings he tries to schedule with him all end in failure.

Harold pulls Russell off the case after it's clear that Tom doesn't want to be found, but Russell can't seem to stop investigating. By the time he's done, he's managed to put together a lengthy list of informants. Then Harold is arrested for Tom's murder and it's up to Russell to clear his name.

Anthony Bidulka won a Lambda Award for Best Gay Men's Mystery this year for another book in this series, FLIGHT OF AQUAVIT, and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis for Best First for AMUSE BOUCHE. The title suits the book. This is a light, quick, humorous read. Russell Quant is an engaging voice and Saskatoon a refreshing setting.

The best part about this book is Bidulka's loving rendering of a gay community in a small Midwestern city. If the book sometimes trips itself up in its attempts to be cool, as it does with the phrase "I put the coffee on to perk," (Note to Mr. Bidulka: no one who is cool uses a perk coffee maker) that only makes the book all the more endearing. The perp is pretty obvious early on in the story, but there's an unusual sincerity and care in the writing here that makes me think Anthony Bidulka is an author to watch.

Reviewed by Carroll Johnson, October 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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