by Lorie Lewis Ham
& Joe Cosentino
This week we have a review of the first in a new gay mystery series by Joe Cosentino, along with a fun guest post by Joe where he interviews his main characters. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win an audiobook copy of the first book in another series written by Joe called Drama Queen, and a link to order The Player from Amazon.
The Player By Joe Cosentino
Review by Lorie Ham
When asked to review The Player I was immediately intrigued by the premise and said yes, and boy am I glad that I did. The Player is actually two separate cozy mysteries together, The City House and The Country House. They feature music teacher Andre Beaufort and playboy ghost Freddy Birtswistle.
In The City House, Andre Beaufort’s life as a music teacher is pretty ordinary, until he discovers an antique player piano in the basement of his apartment building. He moves the player piano to his apartment and when he begins to play it, he is visited by a ghost! Not exactly what he was expecting. The ghost is that of the original owner of the home (Freddy’s home was turned into apartments), charming playboy Freddy Birtswistle, who lived during the Roaring Twenties and was killed in 1935 by a jealous husband. At first, Andre doesn’t want to believe Freddy is really a ghost but he quickly realizes there is no other explanation.
Andre’s life gets even more complicated when he finds one of his neighbors murdered just outside his door. When Andre becomes a suspect, he lets Freddy talk him into investigating. Freddy calls Andre the Watson to his Holmes. Because Freddy is tied to the apartment, he guides Andre along in the investigation as Andre questions his quirky group of neighbors, which includes the victim’s brother and husband. We also meet Andre’s aunt who raised him and the interesting detective investigating the crime who just may have a motive of his own. The biggest twist of the story is that Freddy and Andre start falling for one another and Andre finds himself in a relationship with a ghost.
In The Country House, Freddy discovers that his family’s old country home is now a B & B and he asks Andre to go visit it for him and tell him what it is like now. Andre is happy to go, though he will miss Freddy. The B & B is charming and filled with another interesting group of characters, and much to his surprise, Andre also finds another murder! To help out a troubled young gay man who is also a guest and was found over the body, Andre again decides to investigate and is pleasantly surprised when he finds that Freddy is able to haunt the country house as well—so once again the team is together to solve another mystery.
The mysteries in both books are fun and full of twists, turns, and interesting characters, but the greatest delight is the romance between Andre and Freddy. Freddy is full of interesting stories from his years as a playboy and can be quite egotistical at times, but when it comes to Andre, he can also be very sweet. The pair have a great chemistry and I can’t wait for more stories about this unusual duo. Despite the light, cozy feel of the stories, there are also some important issues addressed in each one and I really appreciated how they were handled.
If you are looking for a fast and fun read, a good mystery, and very interesting characters, don’t miss The Player.
Interview with Freddy Birtwistle and Andre Beaufort:
The leading characters in The Player, Player Piano Mysteries Book 1, a mystery/romance/paranormal novel by Joe Cosentino
Andre and Freddy, congratulations on the release of The Player, a new MM mystery/romance/paranormal novel.
Andre: Thank you.
Freddy: You’re the bee’s knees for giving us this beat session.
Andre: He means interview.
Andre, tell us about Freddy.
Andre: Freddy is tall and lean with slicked-back jet-black hair, violet eyes, high cheekbones, a thin nose, and rosy cheeks. As everyone of wealth in the Roaring Twenties, he wears a pinstriped black suit and vest, white silk shirt, and gray suspenders with matching bowtie and silk pocket handkerchief. His shoes are shiny black patent leather with white spats. Most importantly, Freddy has an alluring and joyous bon vivant personality.
Freddy: Andre, you are a lalapazaza!
Andre: Right back at you, Freddy.
Freddy, tell us about Andre.
Freddy: Andre is twenty-five years old, tall and thin with amber eyes, dark hair, milk chocolate complexion, and what you would call a cut body and bubble butt. I would call him a blue Serge!
Andre: That means a real sweetheart.
Freddy: As a grade school music teacher, Andre is also a bit of a bluenose.
Andre: Meaning a bit of a prude.
Freddy: And a real Oliver Twist!
Andre: That’s a good dancer.
Freddy: Andre found the player piano in the basement of his apartment building, my family’s city mansion. By pedaling the Pianola and playing famous songs of the Roaring Twenties, Andre can summon me. However, only Andre can see me and talk to me, which is fine with me. Actually, we do a lot more than talk.
Freddy, who were some of your friends when you were alive?
Freddy: Cole Porter wrote “Puttin’ on the Ritz” about me. George Gershwin composed “The Man I Love” in an unsuccessful attempt at winning my affections. Cole Porter wrote “You’re the Top,” well, you can figure that out on your own. Jack LaLane flexed his muscles for me. Cary Grant tried to charm me with his accent. Henry Ford gifted me with a car, and Thomas Edison phoned me for dates constantly. Flo Ziegfeld offered me a theatre. J. Edgar Hoover, though a drag, kept tabs on me. However, I didn’t find true love until I met Andre.
What did you do for a living (no pun intended)?
Freddy: Anything but work! I was a dewdropper.
Andre: Meaning Freddy accepted the kindness of his wealthy family members and friends.
Freddy: My family made their fortune in the railroad business, which was dreadfully boring to me. Bronx cheer.
Andre: Meaning raspberry.
Freddy: After my wonderful parents and dear younger sister died from the influenza, I inherited the city mansion and country estate.
How and when did you die?
Andre: In 1935 Freddy was shot at thirty years old by a jealous lover.
Freddy: But not mine!
How does it feel to be a ghost?
Freddy: I am definitely light in the loafers.
Did you two fall instantly in love?
Andre: Not exactly. We got off to a rocky start, but after sharing stories about our lives and cuddling on the chaise, we found our way into each other’s hearts.
Freddy: And we shared some wonderful barneymugging in bed.
Andre: You can probably figure out what that means.
How did you two become a ghostly Holmes and earthbound Watson?
Freddy: I felt like a bindle punk…
Andre: A nomad.
Freddy: …when I learned my family’s city mansion in Hoboken, New Jersey, had been converted into small apartments.
Andre: My neighbor, a beautiful woman of mystery, was murdered, and I needed to protect my aunt, my best pal, and myself. So, I investigated and ultimately caught the murderer.
Freddy: Under my tutelage. The next year, Andre traveled to my country manse in Cold Spring, New York. To my chagrin, it had become a bed and breakfast.
Andre: I discovered a player piano there as well, which thankfully brought Freddy to me there. When the owner of the inn was murdered, the game was afoot again, and Freddy and I solved our second murder mystery.
Freddy: As hotsy-totsy Andre and I continued to fall deeper in love.
What’s special about this book?
Freddy: Andre and me, of course! Also, the two stories include sexy characters, cozy settings from my Art Deco period, my unique sense of humor, surprising plot twists and turns, fun red herrings, a touch of drama, a shocking, yet justifiable, ending, and of course, a great deal of sweet romance.
Andre: And the reader gets two books for the price of one!
This isn’t Joe Cosentino’s first mystery series.
Andre: Joe wrote the Nicky and Noah Mysteries series and the Jana Lane Mysteries series, both to great acclaim and popularity.
Freddy: And when I whispered my story in Joe’s ear, The Player was born!
Who are the supporting characters in The Player?
Andre: In Part I, my protective Aunt Nia who raised me also manages the apartment building. My best chum, Victor Martinez, is an actor who gets excited about a commercial audition to play a hemorrhoid. Victor enters into a love affair with cross-dressing lawyer Alexander Popov, the murder victim’s twin brother. The victim’s husband, sexy mystery author Denis Sokolov, just happens to write a novel that mirrors the murder.
Freddy: I am jealous of muscular college film professor Leander Bryce who enjoys exercising in his undies at the window while Andre watches.
Freddy: Milo Archer, a college student with a crush on Andre, wants to start a revolution.
Andre: Personal trainer Hunter Buck and gorgeous grade school vice principal with a secret Preston Steele complete the list of suspects, all of whom share a secret past with the victim, including the police detective, Takoda Shawnee.
Freddy: By the by, when Preston and Andre embark on a date, I have great fun turning it into a flat tire.
Andre: Which means a bad date—and it was!
And in the second story?
Andre: Evangelical ex-judge Cynthia Butler Russell, the owner of the bed and breakfast, is murdered in her office. The suspects include Cynthia’s straying husband Jim, her envious and comically alcoholic sister Sherry, Cynthia’s gorgeous gay son Nelson, Nelson’s muscular lover Sergio, and Sergio’s PFLAG mother Renata.
Freddy: While staying at the inn, Andre befriends Gabriel, an adorable sleepwalking architect. Andre also meets Zian, a cute painter who desires Gabriel, and Dustin Kelly, the tall detective hiding an interesting secret. Thankfully, Andre prefers me!
Who is your favorite character?
Freddy: Andre is the love of my life and the Ell’s hips!
Andre: The cat’s meow.
Which character do you like the least?
Freddy: Preston Steele, because Andre’s Aunt Nia arranges for Andre and Preston to have a blind date. Andre acquiesces in an effort to obtain information from Preston, who leaves the date in midair with my hands on his belt.
How are the stories cozy?
Freddy: They take place in my Art Deco environments with fireplaces, turrets, window seats, balconies, and comfy chaises and armchairs opposite gorgeous murals, wallpaper, and statues. The windows sport views of the glistening Hudson River and sun-kissed mountains. Welcome to my world!
Andre: Also, Freddy and I get very cozy together.
How can readers get their hands on The Player?
Andre: The purchase links are below.
Will there be more Player novels?
Freddy: Yes, I’m quite the player. Watch out for The Player’s Encore, The Player Piano Mysteries Book 2!
Thank you, Freddy and Andre, for interviewing today.
Freddy: It has been my pleasure. And so much more interesting than being cooped up in the Pianola.
Andre: I hope everyone will give The Player a play. I’m sure, like me, you will fall in love with Freddy and have a great deal of fun trying to solve our mysteries.
Freddy: And I love to hear from readers. So go to your magic box…
Andre: Meaning your computer.
Freddy: …and contact Joe at www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com. He tells us everything!
Player Piano Mysteries Book 1, published by Dreamspinner Press, a paranormal romantic suspense novel by JOE COSENTINO
Post a comment about why you love a good gay cozy mystery novel. The one that tickles our inner sleuth the most will win a complimentary audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe!
You can also enter to win by simply emailing KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “player,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 14, 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.