Crazy For You by T.S. Hunter

THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE NEVER RUNS SMOOTH

It’s 1987, and Soho is in the grip of another hot summer. While working part-time in The Red Lion, Joe finds himself agreeing to help a notorious gangster search for her missing girlfriend.

Antonia The Gecko Lagorio is daughter to the ruthless but ageing gang boss, Tony The Lizard Lagorio. When her girlfriend, Charlotte Fenwick, goes missing, Antonia turns to Joe for help, believing her to have been kidnapped by a rival gang.

Charlotte Fenwick is daughter to multi-millionaire, Charles Fenwick—who also happens to be one of Freddie Gillespie’s bigger clients. Keen to keep any hint of a scandal out of the public eye, Charles Fenwick had already asked Freddie to recruit Russell and Joe to help him find his daughter discreetly.

With both of them on the case, Joe and Russell find themselves trying to stop a turf war between the two rival gangs while uncovering all manner of dark secrets about the missing heiress and her troubled life.

Meanwhile Freddie Gillespie has a run in with an old foe that could see him lose both his job and his relationship with Russell.


Crazy For You is the next exhilarating installment of the Soho Noir cozy crime series. I’ve been waiting patiently for more diverse LGBTQ representation and this book delivers with the relationship between Antonia Lagorio and Charlotte Fenwick. Antonia, appropriately nicknamed “The Gecko,” is the daughter of Tony “The Lizard” Lagorio while Charlotte is the daughter of multi-millionaire Charles Fenwick. You may remember Tony from the first book, Tainted Love, where he was interviewed during the investigation of Chris’ death. He is also the one I headcanon as possessing a vast stuffed animal collection and carefully manipulating the media and those around him to believe he is a hardened criminal while not actually having to murder anyone. This, of course, gains him access to the most exclusive stuffed animals available via black market connections, where he collects under the guise of “buying gifts for his daughter.” Most of the toys are lizards, reptiles, and other such creatures, but he’s also been known to pick up reddish colored dogs and puppies. In other words, he’s an absolute genius. Hopefully, we’ll get a spin-off series with Tony’s origin story and Antonia carrying on the family legacy.

Sorry where was I?

Oh yes, back to the story!

When Charlotte goes missing, Antonia enlists the help of Russell and Joe in order to keep the police out of the situation while also avoiding tangling with Charles Fenwick. Charlotte’s involvement and naivety in Soho’s underground scene has gotten her in trouble, as her capture is about to start a gang war between her kidnappers and the Lagorios. I won’t go into detail with this so as not to spoil, but the anxiety and tenseness of the situation kept me on the edge of my seat.

As characters, Russell, Joe, and Freddie all continue to grow and evolve. Russell and Joe are both a far cry from the grumpy detective and naive small town media enthusiast we met in Tainted Love. Freddie’s backstory also sees continued development through his relationship with Russell and his encounter with an old flame.

T.S. Hunter’s writing gets better and better between each book – Who’s That Girl? was my favorite before this, but Crazy For You has definitely taken the cake now. His incorporation of distressingly real legislation from England in the 80s along with his descriptions of the vibrant and anxiously fast-paced Soho underground come together to form an easy-to-read and satisfying crime series. Each book also opens your eyes more to the realities of the early days of LGBTQ injustice, which makes you appreciate how far we’ve come that much more.

Two more books remain in the Soho Noir series and personally, I can’t wait!

Check out the other blogs on the tour and don’t forget – you can click here to buy directly from Red Dog Press!

Thank you to Dylan at Red Dog Press for my ebook copy and the invite to the blog tour!

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Careless Whisper by T.S. Hunter

Click here to order direct from Red Dog Press!
Click the image to buy direct from Red Dog Press!

LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.

It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of sensational pop group Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are rife.

Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.

But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.

Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever.


T.S. Hunter has done it again with another great installment in the Soho Noir series! When I saw the cover reveal for Careless Whisper during the Who’s That Girl? blog tour, I was immediately pulled in by the vibrant color and design and I just knew the writing would go along perfectly with it. Special thank you to Dylan at Red Dog Press for the blog tour invitation and my ebook copy!

I even got my physical book before the blog tour started! Talk about HYPE! 😀

As soon as I opened this book, I was once again transported back to 80s London with Joe and Russell, both of whom feel like old friends. Though I’ve never been to London myself (or anywhere in the 80s for that matter), I’ve never had trouble connecting with these two and following along in their world. I just hope we get to see more of the drag shows at the Red Lion in the next book – Paul and Scott are some of my favorite secondary characters so of course I’d love to see more of Patty and Miss Terri!

T.S. Hunter’s delicate and sensitive handling of Russell’s HIV testing is another testament to Hunter’s writing. Though I was born after the HIV crisis, the tense moments with Russell at the clinic and his anxiety in the days to come really pulled me into what was a near-daily experience in 80s Soho. Despite all the flair and fun of drag shows, clubs, and bars, the threat of HIV was an insidious undercurrent throughout Soho nightlife. These cozy crime novels don’t necessarily focus on this crisis, but Hunter’s ability to weave it into the story makes Joe and Russell’s on-page lives seem that much more real.

I will end my review here to avoid spoilers, but trust me – you’ll want to pick up Careless Whisper, even if you haven’t read the other Soho Noir novels. But really, you should get the others, too! They’re a great read and I have full confidence that the rest of the series will be just as enjoyable.

Check out the other bloggers on the tour and don’t forget to purchase the books! I can’t wait to have the whole rainbow collection on my shelf!

Who’s That Girl? by T. S. Hunter

Click the image to buy direct from Red Dog Press!

From the book description:

A FEMME FATALE WITH A POINT TO PROVE

It’s the summer of 1985 in London’s Soho, and Joe Stone is settling into his new life living in the heart of London’s developing gay scene.

When Danny Devraux—the compere they’ve hired to host their charity ball, The Frock Show—is found dead backstage, it falls to Joe and his friend and flatmate, Russell, to figure out what happened.

All they have to go on is a broken stiletto found near the scene, and the briefest glimpse of a mystery woman fleeing the club. But who was she? And why did she kill the most loved man in cabaret?

Past secrets, bent coppers, drag queens and old lovers all play their part in this noirish murder mystery.

THE SECOND IN THE SOHO NOIR SERIES

Russell stepped back calmly, smiling. “You didn’t think I’d take it lying down, did you?” he asked. “After what you did to me, I’m gunning for you, son.”

T. S. Hunter strikes again with an excellent second installment to the Soho Noir series! I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour for this release – Tainted Love was my first adventure into cozy crime and I was thrilled to continue on with Who’s That Girl?. Thank you to Red Dog Press and T. S. Hunter for giving me this opportunity with a free ebook! I’ll most certainly be ordering the physical copy to match Tainted Love. With a design that’s both suggestive and relatable, I can’t not.

Joe and Russell have become flatmates since the ending events of Tainted Love, and they’ve developed a cute/friendly relationship of Joe dragging a reluctant Russell out for nights on the town. One of my favorite quotes from Russell is near the beginning of the book, as he’s musing on the drag show they’re putting on at the bar:

“Even though he’d helped to organise it, Russell never enjoyed this kind of crowd. He said it was all too extrovert.”

Relatable as HECK. Maybe it’s because I see a little of myself in Russell, but I was so happy to see him develop into the badass we’ve always known he was. While he had some excellent scenes in Tainted Love as well, he really comes into his own in WTG, from his sense of control after Danny is attacked to his confrontations with Skinner later in the book.

Speaking of Skinner! Here’s another great quote:

Skinner tried to mould his face into anything but a slapped arse, and failed.

PERFECTION!

T. S. Hunter packs a lot of punch into a short novella. Several new characters are introduced after the murder of Danny Devraux and their histories are explored thoroughly, tactfully, and succinctly throughout the book. The ending is twisty and exciting – even though a suspect is introduced immediately after the murder, their motive, identity, and true actions are completely unexpected. I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling, but needless to say, even when you think you’ve got it figured out, there will be one more thing on the next page to shock you.

Cozy crime is quickly becoming a favorite genre of mine, especially the way Hunter writes it. Who’s That Girl? is a quick, enjoyable, and surprising read packaged into a neat 95 pages. The character development is excellently crafted and every sentence furthers the plot and storyline. I used “twisty” to describe Tainted Love as well, but honestly, there isn’t a word that sums these up more – and that’s exactly how I like it!

I was sad to get to the end of WTG, but lucky for me (and you!), the next book’s cover was announced earlier in the blog tour! Check out #3, Careless Whisper:

Look at this deliciousness!

So far, Who’s That Girl? is my favorite installment in the Soho Noir series, and if T. S. Hunter keeps up this momentum, Careless Whisper will be even better! I can’t wait to read #3 and see the shenanigans Joe and Russell get into next time.

Thank you again to Red Dog Press and T. S. Hunter for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour! Check out the earlier blogs from the tour, then go order your copy of Who’s That Girl? and Tainted Love! Click here to order direct from Red Dog Press and click here to order from Amazon.

Tainted Love by T. S. Hunter

Click here to buy your own copy!

From the book description:

SOME RELATIONSHIPS ARE JUST MURDER

It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town where Joe and Chris grew up.
When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as just another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why. 
Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer? 
A noirish whodunnit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer. 
Tainted Love is the first book in the Soho Noir series of cozy crime novellas.

“But we have to do something”

“I know. And we will.”

MY GOD this was a great book. From the first page, I was absolutely hooked on the story, plot, and characters – it’s amazing how attached you can get in a 125-page novella when the writing is this good. T.S. Hunter is an up-and-coming author who’s just getting started with this explosive release. Book two in the series is coming out later this year, so you can preorder your copy as soon as you’re done devouring Tainted Love. I am honored that Red Dog Press invited me to participate in this blog tour, and provided me with a free copy of the book!

Now anyone who follows me on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/wherever probably knows I’m normally a fantasy/sci-fi kind of gal. I don’t usually go outside of these genres, but I happily made an exception for Tainted Love when Red Dog Press reached out to me, and I am so glad I did. I’ll admit, the first thing that caught my eye, and what got me started on this path was the cover art:

You can imagine my confusion when this popped up on my Twitter feed – confusion that quickly turned to giggly delight when I tweeted at T.S. Hunter and Red Dog, who confirmed the cover is very intentional. Talk about eye-catching! Who would’ve known this could land me a spot on their blog tour to celebrate the publishing of Tainted Love?

After the murder of the much-beloved Chris in the beginning of the book, Joe and Russell find themselves working together, much to Russell’s chagrin, trying to solve a crime that they know the police will dismiss outright. I couldn’t help but feel my own rage at the lack of respect and blatant bigotry shown by Detective Skinner, and the officers who set up the sting on Russell to get him kicked out of the force. Even the violent bonafide gangster showed more emotion at hearing of Chris’s death than the detective did. As Joe and Russell start working together, Joe’s small town innocence (which I related to on a very personal level) pulls Russell out of his self-loathing pit of despair and into a little bit of a brighter place. Russell has the opposite effect on Joe, which may not seem like a good thing at first, but Joe is idealistic and naive at the beginning of the novella and learns some important life lessons along the way. I absolutely loved their character arcs as they navigated this new situation together – even Russell’s grumpy “I’m not looking for a new [detective] partner right now” attitude couldn’t handle the intensity of Joe’s desire for justice or his righteous view of how the situation must end.

By the middle of the book, you’re suspecting everyone and probably their mothers of murdering Chris – though, if I’m being honest, at that point I’d written off the gangster as a secret softy who probably had a stuffed animal collection and never actually did any murdering of anyone. Now the multi-millionaire that Russell glimpses from across the street? That guy has some dangerous skeletons in his closet, guaranteed. Russell definitely has a point; the violence of Chris’ murder just isn’t Tony’s style. I’m sure Tony is a guy with much more class and poise. And stuffed animals. I won’t go into detail about who actually did the whodunnit, but suffice to say, you will never see it coming.

Tainted Love also paints a truthful and painful picture of the 80s in London and the world at large. While drag queens like Patty and young men like Joe are starting to get their feet wet in the club scene, a crisis rages on the fringes of their culture – death, brutality, judgment, and homophobia subtly plague their lives and drive them to seek refuge in these underground scenes. Joe found solace in the new Chris and his London life until the violent murder of Chris changes Joe forever. Watching him grow with Russell’s bitter-tinged guidance is a reward in and of itself. The whodunnit aspect of the book is engaging, twisty, and, most importantly, shocking, but the characters themselves can be appreciated just as much as the false starts and plot twists of the murder investigations.

If you’re interested in a quick, engaging, and fast-paced read, you need to pick up a copy of Tainted Love immediately. I’m already on my second read-thru and can’t wait to find more foreshadowing and clues this time around.

Plus! There’s a giveaway happening on a few awesome pieces of book swag. Click the link below to enter a drawing for a signed copy of Tainted Love, a wonderful “Go Away I’m Reading” tote bag, a delightful rainbow button badge, and (last but certainly not least) CHOCOLATE!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b5939c611/?

Thank you again to Red Dog Press and T.S. Hunter for allowing me to take part in this blog tour! Check out the banner below for the other bloggers that have come before me (and will follow until the 25th!).