A Litter of Golden Mysteries By Neil S. Plakcy: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Jun 6, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets, Tales of Diversity

by Cynthia Chow

This month we are featuring some mysteries written by LGBTQ+ authors in honor of Pride, the first one is Neil S. Plakcy and his anthology A Litter of Golden Mysteries. We also have an interview with Neil. A couple short short stories written by Neil featuring these same characters have been featured in podcast episodes-you will find the players for those below as well. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of A Litter of Golden Mysteries and a link to order it from Amazon.

A Litter of Golden Mysteries by Neil S. Plakcy
Review by Cynthia Chow

Steve Levitan would be the first to declare that his Golden Retriever Rochester was responsible for turning around his human’s life. After two miscarriages led to now ex-wife’s compulsive shopping habit, Steve wielded his considerable computer skills to hack into three credit bureaus and block her ability to spend. Unfortunately, that also led to his being caught and imprisoned for a year, forcing him to rebuild his life into an administrator at Eastern College. It’s there where he also met Fine Arts Department chair Lili Weinstock, the love of his life and current girlfriend. Steve would never have been able to open himself up again to love if not for Rochester’s unwavering loyalty and affection, with the canine ironically restoring Steve’s faith in humanity. That faith will be tested in these eight short stories, each which have Steve trusting the strength of his relationship with Lili along with the instincts of his best friend.mystery

This heart-warming collection of tales takes readers through the holiday season as Rochester – AKA “Crime Dog” – keenly observes suspicious behavior and leads his owners to a surprising number of dead bodies. A baby dropped off in a dumpster, star-crossed lovers, and family secrets are all explored in these unique, thoroughly delightful stories.

Author Neil S. Plakcy delves into the topics of religion, race, and puppy mills, depicting the many nuances concisely and thoughtfully. Of course, Rochester and his fellow canines are the highlights of these stories, always bringing out the best in their humans and propelling the plots along. While Steve is quick to put together the pieces of a puzzle, it’s Rochester who finds the clues. A final text exchange between Steve and Lili is the perfect hilarious conclusion to this compelling collection, showcasing the perfection that is crime dog Rochester.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Interview with Neil Plakcy:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Neil: I started writing real stories when I was about sixteen, but I didn’t get published until the 1990s, when I began writing erotic short stories for magazines.

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Neil: My first published book was Mahu in 2005. I began it when I was in the MFA program at Florida International University because everyone else in my class was writing thrillers set in Florida. I had just been to Hawaii and loved it and thought it was close enough to Florida that I could write the kind of book I wanted to, without so much competition.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?

Neil: In 2006 I started to write gay romance. My first book in that genre was GayLife.com, set on Miami Beach at the turn of the millennium. Since then I’ve written cozy mysteries, YA romance, even a paranormal book with a genie private eye.

Neil Plakcy

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Neil: I wanted to set the Angus Green series of FBI thrillers in South Florida because it’s where I live, and it would be easy to research. I chose Wilton Manors, a Fort Lauderdale suburb, because it’s one of the only communities with an LGBGT majority in residents and governments, and though it’s not as immediately sexy as the beachfront, it has a lot of interesting quirks.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Neil: My first priority is to entertain, but I hope that by showing LGBT characters who can be your family, neighbors or co-workers I can change hearts and minds as well. Even well-meaning people need education, and if I can slide that into a mystery plot and make you care for the characters, I’ve done something meaningful.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Neil: I am lucky that my day job is as a college English professor. I schedule my classes and office hours so that I don’t need to be at work until 11:30 a.m. Then I use the morning to write, often at Starbucks – though now that we’re quarantined, I’ve learned to make my own coffee drinks.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Neil: In order to increase my productivity, I’ve been learning to outline more and more. I find that if I don’t at least know my plot points and a couple of twists, I end up either getting stalled or having to rewrite.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Neil: I’m not exactly a lark. I like to sleep in too much, but the morning is my most productive time.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Neil: Yes, I did. My agent for Mahu felt that there were a limited number of publishers who would be interested in a gay mystery, and when she exhausted that list she was done.

KRL: Do you believe that has changed any through the years?

Neil: Yes, I do. When I began writing we were socially at a big turning point, and more and more celebrities and athletes began coming out of the closet. That normalized gay experience more and more, so that opened more markets for LGBT fiction.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Neil: My agent originally got a rejection for Mahu from Haworth Press, an academic publisher with a small line of gay fiction. A few months later, I was at the Miami Book Fair and I attended a session with Jay Quinn, who had just published an anthology of gay fiction. I asked him about the market for gay mysteries, and he told me his publisher had just hired an associate editor to work in that area. The publisher? Haworth Press. Had I not attended that session, I might never have known they had changed their intent.

KRL: Most interesting question from a reader?

Neil: I once had a fan write to ask if Kimo Kanapa’aka, the hero of the Mahu series, was circumcised. Honestly, that wasn’t something I’d ever considered! However, I treat every interaction with a reader like gold, so I did some research on the time and place he was born, Honolulu in 1974, and determined that like many other boys of the time, he’d have been circumcised before he left the hospital.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Neil: I would really like to win a Lambda Literary Award for gay mystery or romance. To me, the Lambdas are the gold standard in my genre, and I’ve been a finalist four times. I keep trying, though, because if you don’t enter you can’t win.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Neil: There are four writers who’ve influenced my life and my writing the most. Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Jimmy Buffett. And Laurie Colwin is a writer I can read over and over again, because of the depth of her characters and the lovely surface of her prose and its attention to detail.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Neil: I do a lot of research. For the Angus Green series, I participated in the FBI’s nine-week citizen’s academy, learning about Bureau procedures, shooting weapons, and experiencing a SWAT attack. I Google stuff every day, from the kind of underwear men wore in the 19th century to the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls. When I can visit a location, I do, and I take pictures, listen to sounds and sniff the air. When I can’t I rely on Google Maps and travel journals.

KRL: What do you read?

Neil: I cut my reading teeth on the classics of the mystery genre – Christie, Allingham, Marsh, Sayers, etc. When I was a teen, I read everything at my local library from the Italian mysteries of Giovanni Guareschi to the English countryside stories of Miss Read. A college degree in English led me to Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Cather, as well as the classics of the epic tradition and writers in the American Jewish tradition.

Today I read contemporary mysteries, mostly of the cozy genre, along with a heaping helping of what’s called women’s fiction, with the occasional science fiction, fantasy or dystopian along with it.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Neil: Queer as Folk made a big impression on me. They could show that on commercial TV! My husband and I watched that every week with our mouths open. I think it was the first time we’d honestly connected with characters on screen who were something like us.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Neil: Read heavily in the genre you enjoy, in which you’d like to write. Teach yourself to read like a writer, looking at description, language, voice and pacing.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Neil: There is a wide range of LGBT mystery fiction out there, from contemporary to historical, cozy to thriller. A great place to start is on the page I’ve created on my website: www.mahubooks.com/gay_mysteries.htm

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Neil: Despite writing a twelve-book series about a Hawaiian surfer, I’ve never been on a board in my life.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Neil: WEBSITE: www.mahubooks.com
BLOG: mahubooks.blogspot.com
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP4EL6
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/neil.plakcy
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/126217.Neil_Plakcy
PINTEREST: https://pinterest.com/neilplakcy/boards/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/NeilPlakcy

Check out the Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episodes featuring short stories by Neil here, and here, or use the players below.

To enter to win an ebook copy of A Litter of Golden Mysteries, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “golden,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 13, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I love Goldens. Thanks for the contest.

  2. Thanks for inviting me and for the lovely review. Brody and Griffin send you all lots of puppy kisses.

  3. Thank you for the great interview! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.