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Friday, July 31, 2015

Time for the Drama!

the first Nicky and Noah mystery
by Joe Cosentino
published by Lethe Press

I have always been a huge Agatha Christie fan. What I love most about her novels are the clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, and unexpected yet totally earned endings. Armistead Maupin is another favorite of mine. His quirky, surprising, larger than life, and loveable characters are a delight. So I decided to write a new gay mystery/comedy/romance series along that vein.
As a theatre college professor/department head, I set my series on a college campus in a fictitious, quaint, private New England campus.  Since theatre departments are havens for romance, scandals, mystery, and humor, it seemed the perfect fit. The Nicky and Noah mystery series was born. It is totally outside the box since it is hysterically farcical, but there is a solid mystery at its core inhabited with characters who are endearing. While most gay mysteries seem to be hardcore and dark, this one is more of the cozy variety.
The setting is an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bares: Treemeadow College. In the first novel, it is winter, so white snow, cherry wood mantels surrounding blazing fireplaces, and hot chocolate are in abundance. In the second book, it is fall, so leaves of amber, violet, and scarlet blanket the campus. The third book takes us on cruise to Alaska for sights of glaciers and whales.
As Drama Queen (book one) begins, David Samson, the technical theatre professor, is found with a knife from the prop room lodged in his back. The suspects include David’s wife and son who stand to inherit a fortune, David’s two hunky graduates assistants who are desperate for his job, the mysterious movement professor who Samson didn’t support for tenure, the department head David wanted to unseat, David’s two ex-lovers, and his four students with a joint secret. When the local police are stumped, including a studly closet-gay detective, it is up to handsome, well-endowed Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Directing, to moonlight from directing the college production and use his theatre skills to find the murderer. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on gorgeous Assistant Professor of Acting, Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder (whose tenure application was not supported by the victim).
Nicky has his sleuthing cut out for him as Treemeadow theatre professors continue to drop like stage curtains. Since Noah finds each of the bodies, Nicky must not only restore justice to Treemeadow, but also save the man he adores.
As Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book. In Drama Muscle, releasing late fall, Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out who is murdering musclemen in the Physical Education Department. In the third book, Drama Cruise, Nicky and Noah embark on a cruise to Alaska while putting on murder mystery dinner theatre—and solving a real murder mystery onboard ship.
Readers have told me they love getting to know quick-witted sleuth Nicky and sweet, loyal Noah. They also enjoy the clues, red herrings, plot twists, and puzzles as they try to solve the mystery along with Nicky and Noah. Most of all, readers laugh at the hijinks, hysteria, and unquenchable spirits of Nicky and Noah. As the two fall in love with each other, the readers fall in love with them. I’m glad I wrote outside the box!
The Amazon Kindle was #18 in its category on their Bestseller list. The paperback is also available, as is the audiobook, performed by a quite versatile actor, Michael Gilboe, who like Nicky, and like me, is a college theatre professor/director.
So grab your program and take your box seat. The curtain is going up on this new series. Lights up!


I left my students to their private discussion and joined my young graduate assistant seated on a red velvet bench in a turreted area of the lobby. As I dug into my sizable piece of cake, Scotty leaned into me like a cat facing a sardine, “Since it looks like the tech rehearsal will run late, I can teach your morning Theatre History class tomorrow.”
“That won’t be necessary, Scotty.” Just stick your finger down your throat then head to the gym as usual.
“With teaching your classes, assessing and updating curriculum, going to faculty meetings, advising students, writing your articles, advising the theatre club, and directing plays, I worry that you may get sick.”
You’d unleash the bubonic plague if it meant getting my job. I patted his shaved and oiled knee, and said a la Margo Channing, “I’m fine, Scotty. Just leave your notes on tonight’s performance in my office box tomorrow.”
“Am I too late for the party?” My knees dipped as Noah Oliver took off his coat and scarf and stood next to me. “Happy birthday, Nicky!” He winked at me.
Maybe we can adopt seven children, run away to the hills, and start a family singing act.
Scotty leapt from his seat like it was a pogo stick. “Have a piece of cake, Noah. No nuts!”
I beg your pardon?
“Thanks for remembering, Scotty.” Noah sat between Scotty and me and dug into the creamy wonder. Was that a familiar smile between Scotty and Noah?!
Scotty explained as if he was Noah’s husband, “Noah is allergic to nuts, Nicky.”
Hopefully not to mine.
Noah took me in with his baby blue eyes. Did I notice a look of lust in them? “How’s the show going?”
What show? Oh! “We’re all exhausted, frazzled, panicked, and certain of a great opening night.”
Noah squeezed my hand. “You’re an amazing director. The creative way you move your characters around the stage, how the elements of design compliment the story, and your unique vision is thrilling to watch. I expect nothing short of brilliance in this production.” Noah beamed with pride. “And you have some powerful student actors in the show.” Scotty collected our empty plates. “Noah is a terrific acting teacher.” He gazed at Noah with pure adoration. “The students are lucky to have you.”
Since theatre is a collaborative art, I said, “Tyler’s execution of David’s scenic design is amazing, and as usual Tyler has been a total work horse. Ariella’s costumes have an incredible gothic look, but they’re light enough for the students to move around in them.”
Noah whispered in my ear, and I restrained myself from throwing myself on top of him. “Can I speak to you about something…personal?”
“Sure.” How about a June wedding?

Purchase the DRAMA QUEEN audiobook narrated by Michael Gilboe at