Nathan Doyle & Matthew Spain

Created by Josh Lanyon (pseudonym of D.L. Browne).

Who says they don't write 'em like they used to?

M/M author Josh Lanyon shows off both pulp AND classic film noir chops with "Snowball in Hell" (2007), the first in a proposed series set in Los Angeles in the 1940s, featuring conflicted crime reporter NATHAN DOYLE and hard-ass homicide dick MATTHEW SPAIN.

Yeah, they're fags. Now get over it.

The gay theme would have never flown back in the day -- hell, it would have been deemed pornography and Lanyon might have faced jail time just for writing it.

But that's no excuse for not reading it now. It's simply one of the most pitch-perfect evocations of World War II-era Los Angeles I've ever read, both familiar and unfamiliar, like a long-lost Black Mask tale that goes down mean streets Chandler never dreamed of.

Terse and dark, it's an unsettlingly dark tale of guilt and redemption, murder and betrayal, war and honour, loneliness and fear and maybe, just maybe, a chance at something better. The grim reality of the homosexual demi-monde of the time is portrayed with bitter but sympathetic strokes, right down to the tawdry one-night stands, the cancerous self-loathing of a life lived in the closet and the thuggish, gay-bashing cops who prowl MacArthur Park at night looking for easy targets.

Imagine Fred Nebel's McBride and Kennedy series played out, not as farce (or screwball comedy, à la Torchy Blaine) but as tragedy, the booze-soaked male-bonding transformed into something blacker, nastier and yet, ultimately more moving.

Yeah, they meet cute: wounded vet Doyle is just back from a stint with the Eighth Army in North Africa, back on the crime beat for The Tribune-Herald, when he's asked to cover the murder of a society blackmailer, but Homicide Detective-Lieutenant Spain -- who saw action in the Pacific Theater -- thinks Nathan may just be the killer.

An Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Josh Lanyon (aka D.L. Browne) has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance short stories, novellas, and novels for over a decade, and is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English amateur sleuth series. She also writes the Neil Patrick Rafferty P.I. series.

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An essay by Drewey Wayne Gunn.

Notable Gay and Lesbian Eyes

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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