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Desert Getaway

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Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his own troubled past comes back to haunt him. So he turns for help to Jazz Friendly, a Black woman who, when she was a Palm Springs cop, nearly arrested him for murdering his husband, which he didn't do...not that he knows who did. Now Jazz is a struggling PI, her career derailed by racism. And with her marriage broken by booze, she's desperate to get custody of her kid. Dante and Jazz need each other to solve this murder...and to save themselves from personal and professional disaster.


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Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his own troubled past comes back to haunt him. So he turns for help to Jazz Friendly, a Black woman who, when she was a Palm Springs cop, nearly arrested him for murdering his husband, which he didn't do...not that he knows who did. Now Jazz is a struggling PI, her career derailed by racism. And with her marriage broken by booze, she's desperate to get custody of her kid. Dante and Jazz need each other to solve this murder...and to save themselves from personal and professional disaster.

30 review for Desert Getaway

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ulysses Dietz

    The Desert Getaway (Dante and Jazz book 1) By Michael Craft Brash Books, 2022 Five stars I started this book with a shiver of anticipation at the idea of a new series from Michael Craft. I was not disappointed. As always, Craft’s elegant prose and deft drawing of characters gives the story depth, even as his panoramic view (sometimes literal) of Palm Springs, California, and its surrounding communities, firmly sets the place as an intense and vivid background for what turns out to be a fairly substa The Desert Getaway (Dante and Jazz book 1) By Michael Craft Brash Books, 2022 Five stars I started this book with a shiver of anticipation at the idea of a new series from Michael Craft. I was not disappointed. As always, Craft’s elegant prose and deft drawing of characters gives the story depth, even as his panoramic view (sometimes literal) of Palm Springs, California, and its surrounding communities, firmly sets the place as an intense and vivid background for what turns out to be a fairly substantial body count. The hook is the relationship between Danny (Dante) O’Donnell and Jasmine (Jazz) Friendly. As enemies from the past, reunited by circumstances eerily similar to those under which they first met, Dante and Jazz begin to shift their attitude toward each other as mayhem starts to draw them into its vortex. It is the core joy of reading this book to watch how these two people develop. Both are quasi failures at the start—Danny due to his fecklessness, Jazz due to failings that are not entirely her fault. Jazz is a woman who’s had a run of bad luck, exacerbated by poor choices. Dante, on the other hand, seems to have hardly made any conscious choices, but has drifted semi-aimlessly, motivated more by his libido than any sense of purpose. I liked Jazz right away, in spite of her hostile past with Danny. Danny was a problem for me. He’s the archetype of the middle-aged adolescent gay man, lulled into thinking he never has to grow up by good looks and strong genes. It says a lot about Craft’s skill as a storyteller that I warmed to Danny—but only because Danny actually became a better person—a more self-aware and conscious person. This book is as much about Danny O’Donnell’s adult awakening as anything else. It not only takes him through the increasingly morbid mystery, but sets his character up for the next book with Jazz Friendly as an ally he never imagined having. In much the same way that his earlier novels felt very much rooted in the northern Midwest where they take place, this story seems so very California. Craft populates it with folks who would be alien in the East or the Midwest. Some of the characters are likeable, some are despicable (in spite of Dante’s fascination, I couldn’t abide Skip Terry, a crucial player in the mystery, although to be honest it might be due to my own prejudices). Others, like Dante’s sometime paramour Isandro, deserve more development (book two, I hope). Craft loves the people who fill his pages, and none of them are accidental or carelessly rendered. The character of the place itself matters—and I think this distinction is real, in spite of our peripatetic society. There is something about life in Southern California, and in the desert itself, that either draws you in or not. Craft makes you understand the allure. I was fascinated that there’s a museum at the center of the story; one that is both familiar and peculiar for me (who spent my 37-year career as a museum curator and administrator). I am so glad that this new series has begun, and look forward to getting to know Dante and Jazz better. I can’t imagine what they’ll get up to next.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I normally like Brash publisher’s mysteries. Also, they normally go with the older reprints. Maybe they are venturing into new books now. This is new. It isn’t the reason I didn’t like it. The reason I didn’t like it (and I’m actually apprehensive about saying this in the current day and age) was because it was just too gay for me. I’m using the word precisely, just so you know, meaning homosexual. As in Dante, the main protagonist of this novel, is a gay man and that is the central thing of his p I normally like Brash publisher’s mysteries. Also, they normally go with the older reprints. Maybe they are venturing into new books now. This is new. It isn’t the reason I didn’t like it. The reason I didn’t like it (and I’m actually apprehensive about saying this in the current day and age) was because it was just too gay for me. I’m using the word precisely, just so you know, meaning homosexual. As in Dante, the main protagonist of this novel, is a gay man and that is the central thing of his personality to the exclusion of all others. And when we’re talking gay – it’s the RuPaul Drag show sort of gay, flamboyant and over the top. Which is perfectly fine, it just doesn’t interest me and isn’t what I like to read. And yes, it should be ok to say that, even in this day and age. Dante’s 51, he slutted his way through a 30-year relationship and now he’s single and ready to mingle…some more. It’s easy enough because apparently, defying statistics, almost everyone he meets is gay. Dante works as a sort of fancy concierge for a fancy rentals company and as such gets involved with the guests. When some of them end up dead, he ends up paired up with a former police detective named Jazz to solve the crime, private detective style. Dante is a white gay male, Jazz is a straight black woman. Dante’s all easy surface charm, Jazz is grumpy. It’s like something right out of a buddy comedy. But not all that comedic. Or all that interesting. Or all that original. Dante does manage to squeeze some snooping around in between all his sexual conquests, but the focus seems determined to remain on Dante and his love life. Even though the book is surprisingly chaste for that. The book is decently written – the author’s been at it for long enough to know how to move the plot along. And it does have a mystery to solve, although not the most interesting one. The Pal Springs setting is nice, but characters are a various assortment of clichés. All in all, didn’t care for it. Thanks Brash for providing a free review copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alannah Davis

    Delightful Getaway A fun romp of a story that is also touching and human. As always, Michael Craft's characters are intricate, spot-on, and make me want more. The mystery (mysteries, actually) are very satisfying. I hope Michael is planning more adventures for Dante and Jazz. I would love to see what the future holds for them! Delightful Getaway A fun romp of a story that is also touching and human. As always, Michael Craft's characters are intricate, spot-on, and make me want more. The mystery (mysteries, actually) are very satisfying. I hope Michael is planning more adventures for Dante and Jazz. I would love to see what the future holds for them!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rick Gross

    This book was great fun. A clever, funny, gay romp through the Palm Springs Desert cities. This is the first time I have read a book by Michael Craft and will not be the last. Character development was good, suspense was maintained throughout, and the plot was fun. In these serious times it is nice to find escape in a well written book that does not take itself too seriously.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Larry M. McCormick

    Another excellent read Michael Craft really knows how to tell a story with great characters and a plot that keeps you turning page after page. Just hope there will be more of Dante and Jazz.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Phillips

    Another Masterful Mystery Michael Craft has a real knack for very well developed believable characters and dialogue. Desert Getaway is a delight and an “I can’t put it down” tale. Bravo!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joe McGowan

    The heat is on In Palm Springs. Getaway is a nicely crafted murder mystery, where I actually did not figure out the killer to the very end. The main characters are not without flaws, so you enjoy normal people that are relatable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom Meek

    Another great novel from one of my favorite authors. Hope this becomes a series. Still miss more stories from Mark Manning, but I'm sure Dante & Jazz can make up for him. So can't wait to grab a big bowl of pink fluff and read their next adventure! Another great novel from one of my favorite authors. Hope this becomes a series. Still miss more stories from Mark Manning, but I'm sure Dante & Jazz can make up for him. So can't wait to grab a big bowl of pink fluff and read their next adventure!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Palmer

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dumbledore

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Bidulka

  12. 5 out of 5

    Orrie Feitsma

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Egan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas McGegan

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Ekins

  16. 4 out of 5

    Terry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kevin O'connor

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ramona Quimby

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard R.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Landi

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tom Hughes

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rand

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dree Hulsey

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lee Goldberg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garry Hayles

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tod

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Winthrop

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Kman

  30. 4 out of 5

    E Alexander

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