Book Review – Deadly Nightshade by Victor J. Banis

Genre: Contemporary Gay Mystery
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: MLR Press (January 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193453174X
ISBN-13: 978-1934531747

About the book:

“The first in a new mystery series from the legendary author of the Man From C.A.M.P. and Longhorns, Victor J. Banis. Straight cop, gay cop, and a woman who “isn’t real.” Tom and Stanley are on the trail of a drag queen serial killer, and along the way, they find themselves engaged in a more intimate pursuit, trying to resolve another mystery: their unexpected attraction to one another.”


Stanley Korski, a rookie San Francisco homicide inspector, is partnered with hunky veteran Tom Danzel in order to track down a presumed “drag queen” serial killer. Stanley also happens to be an out and proud gay man who has to learn to work with the “supposedly” straight (and initially almost homophobic) Tom. During the course of their investigation, Tom’s straight status becomes questionable, and it’s pretty much obvious that he is a man very much deep in the closet.

I had to suspend my disbelief a bit when I was reading this story. Even if all one knows about police procedure comes from watching televison cop series and CSI, you can tell immediately that the author dispenses almost totally with proper police procedure. I found it very hard to believe that a beat cop (like Stanley) would be allowed to be promoted into homicide with very little training, affirmative action or not. In fact, Stanley references tv shows himself as sources for his knowledge (or lack thereof) of policework while on the investigation.

The strength of this novel is not the mystery itself or how Stanley and Tom try to catch the serial killer since the crime / mystery plot is pretty flimsy. Victor J. Banis’ strength is his ability to create snappy/ witty dialogue (especially for Stanley who rips off a couple of really funny one-liners). Banis is able to develop his characters such that you will fall in love with Stanley and root for him (and understand why Tom gets involved with him). Still, I was a bit surprised by how fast Tom succumbed to Stanley’s charms (which I have to admit are quite considerable), but hey this IS a gay novel and such interludes are demanded I suppose. And Victor J. Banis writes a good sex scene – unlike many a clunker I’ve read in other gay novels.

Since this is a series, things don’t quite end up rosy and lovey-dovey for these two, but I have high hopes for Stanley and Tom in the next installment.

Other reviews of Deadly Nightshade are found at at Elisa Rolle’s Reviews.

Check out Deadly Nightshade and help support Victor J. Banis. It’s also available as a Kindle Edition.

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~ by RandomizeME on April 28, 2009.

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