Palm Springs, An Oasis

Jun 21, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by David Pederson

This is one of several LGBTQIA mysteries being featured this month in honor of Pride! You can find them all in our mystery section.

My tenth murder mystery, Murder at the Oasis, takes place in Palm Springs, California, in 1946. It features Mason Adler, a gay private detective, and his decorator friend, Walter Wingate, as they travel from Phoenix, Arizona, to Palm Springs for a relaxing getaway that turns out to be anything but.

I myself first ventured to Palm Springs in 1995, alone and not completely familiar with this paradise. I booked a room at a Hampton Inn downtown and explored, quickly finding to my delight that I was not the only gay man in town. I ventured to a restaurant with the gay-friendly-sounding name of Rainbow Cactus and had dinner. It was also a piano bar and lounge, so after I ate, I hung around for show tunes and drinks. Several people approached me to say hello, and I was immediately taken at how friendly Palm Springs seemed to be. On my next trip, I stayed at one of the many gay resorts, discovering an oasis within an oasis, a private hideaway where I could relax and be completely myself.

But I wasn’t the first person to discover that Palm Springs was a place to escape by far. As early as the 1920s, Hollywood movie stars flocked to Palm Springs, an easy two-hour drive from Los Angeles, and far from the prying eyes of newspaper reporters and gossip columnists. In this desert paradise, staying at luxury hotels and resorts like the Triada, the El Mirador, and more, stars like Cary Grant, Jack Benny, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bob Hope, found privacy and tranquility. They relaxed by the pool during the day and played by night in famous nightclubs like the Chi Chi Club, the Racquet Club, and others, dressed in their finest. The following is a brief excerpt from my book, describing the two main characters arriving at the Chi Chi Club.

“They advanced out into the tiny room, amidst the sea of small round tables, all covered in fresh, starched white tablecloths, with emerald-green shaded lamps glowing in the centers. The tables were surrounded by armless, gold-painted chairs, their seats upholstered in a soft green velvet. Mason and Walter zigged and zagged as the seven-piece orchestra played a rendition of “Let Yourself Go.” The tiny dance floor was crowded, and the people at each of the tables were chatting and laughing as they popped champagne corks, toasted, and clinked glasses incessantly. The men were mostly all in black tuxedos, with very little variation, but the women were resplendent in long, beautiful gowns of every possible color and style, and stunning, glittering, jewelry that hung about slender and not-so-slender necks, from tender and not-so-tender earlobes, and on every finger of every size imaginable. The air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke, mixed with the various aromas of different perfumes that wafted from the hair and clothing of the ladies.”

Of course, my book takes place in the mid-1940s, when people even dressed up to go to the movies and out to eat. Nowadays casual is the norm, and one would be hard-pressed to find a necktie, tuxedo, or evening gown in any of the remaining clubs or restaurants. Palm Springs, like the rest of the world, has changed a lot since 1946, but one thing hasn’t. It is still a paradise, a true oasis in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, that the rich and celebrated, as well as the middle-class and ordinary, flock to for fun and relaxation. I know I’ll be back to visit, and who knows? Maybe someday my husband and I will even call this paradise home.

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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up this week.

You can use this link to preorder the book which comes out in August. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

David S. Pederson is the author of the Heath Barrington mysteries as well as the Mason Adler mysteries. His third book, Death Checks In, was a finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Awards, and the fourth book, Death Takes a Bow, was a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. He has written many short stories and poems and is passionate about mysteries, old movies, and crime novels. David enjoys studying classic ocean liners, architectural floor plans, and historic homes when not reading or writing. You can learn more on his website.

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. Pre ordered my copy! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the Heath Barrington series and Mason Adler series too. David Pederson is a gifted writer!

    • aww, thanks!


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