Monday, 27 June 2016


Murder on Faux Pas Island 
Author: Casey McKittrick
Publisher: Lethe Press
Genre: Gay Mystery
ASIN: B0106I9BZ0
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

The year is 1935 but this is an America where cross-dressing goes almost unremarked, often unnoticed, and gay relationships are mundane; gay marriage, a quotidian fact of life. Famed chef and female impersonator Pancetta Brulee of New Orleans has been hired to cater a gay engagement party for two prominent grooms at the infamous Faux Pas Island and the Robicheaux estate. Both family and island have a terrible past, and most Cajuns and Creoles avoid the place like the plague.

Pancetta attends the weekend engagement party, only to be faced with the gory murder. The family enlists her and her gorgeous yet restless ex, who happens to be on the island as a groundskeeper. The two embark on a strenuous search for the truth of a tragic Saturday night. 

Among the suspects are a disillusioned fiancé, a Hollywood starlet sister-in-law, an old family friend and admirer of the deceased, a godmother and Countess of Romania, a disapproving mother and father, and a spurned lover of the dead man who has long been a rival for his father's affections. Murder on Faux Pas Island unfolds as a yarn with campy humor and a hint of romance.

Ever wanted to read a gay version of an Agatha Christie classic novel, this could well be it with the date being 1935, setting Faux Pas Island, the mansion the Robicheux estate with the ravishing Pancetta Brulee solving the mystery of a murdered groom at an engagement party.

Faux Pas Island hides a past many should be proud of, where escaped slaves had been lured back by their captors with the promise of hot food. Looking back, they should have known better, yet as tier masters knew, they were starving and in need, so common sense went out of the window. After this incident, the Creole and Cajun people on the island never venture there, not even for an engagement party.

In this novel, in America, cross-dressing might be accepted and overlooked and gay relationships considered normal, everyday, maybe closer to dull here and Pancetta Brulee takes care of the catering for the party for two. As McKittrick would have readers believe, Pancetta is the female persona Chet Burns took on at weekends for Speak easies at Female Impersonator's Night, but as he got more into the feeling of power it gave him, he decided to take up his persona full time. His catering business had started to pay off and Chet now finds his love live isn't what he wanted as he hoped to find a man who could find it in his heart to appreciate both him and Pancetta, but such a man, so far has evaded him.

Pancetta thinks she will be coming to entertain some nice people, but as soon as she gets there, she finds out plenty of not so nice secrets about her clients and their guests. Her first meeting is with the housekeeper, Mrs Wedgewood who has a peanut allergy and strict guidelines she must go by. After her frosty reception, Oz Robicheaux, the heir to the Robicheaux fortune welcomes Pancetta to their house, but also knows her secret and that she and Joe Bliss were an item. This could be dangerous as members of his family have already taken Pancetta to be a woman. Oz knows all the gossip about their family and those who work for them, plus he has slept with quite a few men, one in particular his mother disapproved of. As most of the employers are white and the Robicheaux's only eat non-creole food, Pancetta holds the belief that they could be racist, even if they are welcoming.

The story hots-up with all the family members and guests ready to be catered for, but my main focus was on finding the murderer, and Pancetta and Joe settling their differences aside and spending some quality time together. From the Dramatis Personae list of characters at the front of the book, I can understand what an undertaking this novel must have been for Casey as the thirteen mentioned all have plenty to hide. And although the story takes too much time setting the scene before the murder takes place, it is lucky that Casey has created such a host of interesting characters.

With Pancetta as chef to the Robicheaux estate, she also has to dual troubles of sorting out her former lover who insists on calling her "Chet," and why the groom was murdered. Casey works the characters' personalities into the story and makes sure the killer isn't someone you would easily suspect.

As I enjoyed this so much, I would love to know there are more in this Pancetta Brulee series.