WHY I WROTE THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES
Book Three: Drama Cruise, published by Lethe Press
by Joe Cosentino
A few years back my spouse talked me into going on a ten-day cruise to Alaska. We packed our bathing suits, daywear, nightwear, and credit cards. Prone to motion-sickness, I also packed my ginger capsules and grumbling stomach (and mouth) and we were off. We had amazing meals (after amazing meals), fantastic ocean views, spotted a whale waving its tail at us, and went on a helicopter ride to the glaciers. We also embarked on land excursions to a tramway over the mountains, a totem pole park, a log climbers show, a frontier habitat, and a Native American village. Our cabin sported a private balcony and a gay porter who seemed excited to find a gay couple onboard ship. Onboard ship we raised our noses at an art show, played bingo like senior citizens on church night, gambled like card sharks at the casino, and saw a musical revue with singing and dancing cupcakes. When we returned home, I decided to immortalize our trip by setting the third Nicky and Noah mystery onboard a cruise to Alaska.
As a college professor/department head, I have always been aware that colleges are rife with mystery, romance, and humor. If you haven’t read Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015) and Drama Muscle published by Lethe Press (and you should!), the first two Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. It is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them.
For most of my life I’ve read cozy mystery novels. Though full of murder and mayhem, they always made me smile, challenged my brain, and relaxed me. What could be better than a brain-teasing puzzle taking place in a comfortable environment with lots of gay people? Like an Agatha Christie novel, the mystery is the central focus with red herrings and inversions leading to a satisfying conclusion. As in an Armistead Maupin novel, the characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing.
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 gorgeous leaves of amber, violet, and scarlet blanket the campus. In each book Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book. Reviewers called Drama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit. Who am I to argue? One reviewer wrote Drama Queen was the funniest books she’d ever read!
In Drama Queen college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. When the ebook reached #18 on the Amazon bestsellers list in its category and the paperback and audiobook (with all twenty-four roles played by Michael Gilboe) sold like tickets to Les Mis after the Tony Awards, it was time for another Nicky and Noah mystery.
In Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors are dropping faster than barbells. Nicky and Noah’s relationship reaches a milestone by the end of the novel available in paperback and e-book.
Now in Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. Martin Anderson (Nicky and Noah’s department head) and his bickering husband are also along for the rocky ride. As in the first two books, there are a slew of colorful, hysterically funny victims and suspects like the cruise director who talks endlessly about her glory days as a theatre major in college, the ship’s doctor who is looking for the secret of life, Nicky and Noah’s porter who wants them to adopt him, and the captain of the boat who insists he has seen the ghost of his former sea captain. The theatre professors are equally as colorful, including an alcoholic who believes he has seen a mermaid, a hypochondriac looking for love, a comic with a cat of nine tails in her closet, and a Shakespearian actor who can’t keep his hands off his volume of the Bard—or off anyone else. And who is the mysterious Professor Nan Joy Hassahl?
It is my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So take your front row seat. The boat is leaving from port. Lights up and ahoy matey! Alaska here we come!
P.S. – Drama Luau, the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery releases in six months!
DRAMA CRUISE (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO from Lethe Press
Theater professors and couple, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are going overboard as usual, but this time on an Alaskan cruise, where dead college theatre professors are popping up everywhere from the swimming pool to the captain’s table. Further complicating matters are Nicky’s and Noah’s parents as surprise cruise passengers, and Nicky’s assignment to direct a murder mystery dinner theater show onboard ship. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the curtain down on vacationing theatre professors before it is lights out for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining third novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and ship ahoy!
Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mystery, Best Crime, Best Humorous, Best Contemporary novel of 2015):
"Without doubt the funniest book I have read this year, maybe ever" "brilliant" Three Books Over the Rainbow
“I cannot stop laughing. Drama Queen is Hardy Boys-meets-Murder She Wrote-meets-Midsummer Murders, with a side of parodic, farcical, satire.” “Who-dunits don't come more whodunnity than this.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“I’m hoping that this is just the start for Nicky and Noah. If Jessica Fletcher could have so many murderers in Cabot Cove, why shouldn’t the same hold true for Treemeadow College?” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews
“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay
“a murder mystery, a comedic romp, an investigative caper, and a love story all rolled up into one nifty little novel” The Novel Approach
“I am not used to reading books that make me snigger out loud, but in Drama Queen Joe Cosentino has struck a great balance between his use of tongue in cheek humour and a compelling mystery which we want to see solved.” Divine Magazine
“I love this story, just the right mix, of fun, hilarity and mystery in the mix. The storyline is fresh and well thought out, and the dynamic of the characters is through the roof! Bike Book Reviews
Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press, Rainbow Award Honorable Mention:
“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino's writing is absolutely flawless. He's a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle's highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine
“Book 1, Drama Queen was always going to be a hard act to follow with its belly ache laughter approach but in this “smirkathong” – yes I was smirking throughout the book, my top lip still aches – the author succeeded in delivering another comic classic!” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“a perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot.” “Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.” 3 Chicks After Dark
“As with the first book, there are laugh out loud, completely funny sections. And enough of the mystery and suspense that keeps me reading” “I look forward to the next story” The TBR Pile
“laugh out loud funny” “Readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the killer to be revealed.” “As a romance, readers will love seeing Nicky and Noah settling in to living together in their Victorian home.” “I highly recommend this series.” Joyfully Jay Reviews
“This is a wonderful addition to the series! I fell in love with Nicky in the first book and he just gets better. Filled with humor and action. Noah evolves in this story, his character grows into a more mature yet still adorable sidekick to Nicky. They are perfect together, in detective work and in family situations. I hope that there are more to follow.” Crystals Many Reviewers
“This book is a comic romp that simultaneously celebrates and lampoons a mash-up of genres: the bloodless murders (in this case six) of Agatha Christie and her ilk, the screwball movie mysteries of Nick and Norah Charles (it's Nick and Noah here), and the simile-rich voice-overs of film noir-- all updated for a gay context.” Elisa Rainbow, Rainbow Awards
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015, and has won many Rainbow Award Honorable mentions including for Drama Muscle. Upcoming novels are Drama Luau (fourth Nicky and Noah mystery) and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (fourth Cozzi Cove beach novel, NineStar Press).
Excerpt of DRAMA CRUISE, the third Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino, Lethe Press
The stunning movie star’s long jet-black hair created a silky fan on the cold marble floor. Surrounding her were a crowd of guilt-ridden faces: her possessive husband and producer, her handsome young paramour and co-star, her aggressive agent and female lover, her jealous sister and stand-in, and her makeup man who knew all her secrets (and she knew his). A detective arrived on the scene, took one look at the murdered beauty, and fell in love.
“Nice job, people! Let’s take ten.”
That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, a white stone Edwardian-style private college in the quaint and picturesque village of Treemeadow, Vermont. And how did I become the director of a murder mystery dinner theatre show on a ten-night June cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back? I spotted an online ad seeking theatre professors to present theatrical workshops for passengers on a cruise, culminating in a murder mystery dinner theatre presentation on the last evening. Okay, technically my
colleague and fiancé Noah Oliver, Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, spotted the ad in an educational journal, but I applied for my department head and mentor, Martin Anderson (producing the show), my Noah (acting in the show), and me (directing). Martin’s husband, Ruben, came along for the ride. Martin and Ruben are a sweet, elderly couple (don’t tell them I said that) who have been together forever and have two grown daughters. For our part, Noah and I are both tall, but the similarity ends there. I have dark hair, long sideburns, a Roman nose, and a pretty pumped body thanks to the gym on campus. Noah has exquisite curly-blond hair, sky blue eyes, a smooth build, and the most loving heart on land and sea. I am just a tad older than Noah—but what’s seven years? A lot when you are thirty-six and your lover is twenty-nine. Oh, there’s one other little thing. Actually, it’s not so little. I have a thick nine-and-a-quarter inch penis—flaccid. Luckily, Noah is very open (pardon the pun) to my anatomical quirk.
After flying from Vermont to New York to San Francisco and waiting on endless security lines in the airports, the four of us got to the boat, where we waited on a long security line to come onboard. After unpacking in our cabin then getting a quick lunch at the bountiful buffet, Noah and I made our way through the sea of polyester, and somehow remained awake during the life boat drill. Then we dodged photographers, dollar signs shining in their eyes like paparazzi at a closeted gay movie star’s mansion, and headed to our first rehearsal. As the dining room was occupied with guests eating lunch, we rehearsed in a nautical themed lounge onboard ship.
After an hour and a half of rehearsal, it was break time. While the other professors scattered like televangelists near an IRS building, Noah and I sat on a cozy loveseat next to a gas brick fireplace. Noah looked amazing in an aqua polo shirt and white pants, while I was a bit more toned down in yellow slacks and a cranberry hoodie. I took Noah’s soft, warm hand in mine, and said adoringly, “I can’t believe we’re here.”
Noah responded, “My first cruise.”
“My little virgin.” I kissed his cheek.
He looked out of the porthole and kissed the cleft in my chin. “The sky and the water are gorgeous.”
“I hope we get to the deck to see them.”
“We won’t be rehearsing all day, Nicky.”
“Don’t you need a break, handsome, young paramour character?”
Noah snuggled his shoulder into my chest. “I’d rather wallow away the minutes with my intended.”
We shared a warm kiss.