March 17, 2022

Recommendation: Justene Discusses Steve Neil Johnson's Final Novel

Recommendation: Justene Discusses Steve Neil Johnson's Final Novel

Ep:104 Justene visits to launch or new format which offers one shorter episode each week which be for book recommendations. Author interviews will be separate. In this episode, Justene discusses Steve Neil Johnson's The Red Raven: Book 4: The LA After Midnight Quartet.  Steve published this novel, the final in his series, a few months before his death. Justene shares her thoughts about the novel.

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Steve Neil Johnson's The Red Raven

Grant Michal's A Do-Si-Do With Death

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Brad Shreve  00:00

Now that Queer Writers of Crime is back from hiatus, we're doing something a little different. Every week there is a guest interview and then a few days later, there is a book recommendation episode. So rather than having together they are now split Now those of you that have missed Justene She is back. She agreed to be here once a month. So she and two other people that will be recommending books will be rotating the slot. So this is the first one of the second episode of The Week, a book recommendation episode. Steve Neil Johnson in the final book in his LA After Midnight Quartet. Hit it...


Announcer  00:40

it's time to pit on your sleuthing cap seal nailbiting dread and face heart racing fear. This is Queer Writers of Crime, where you'll get book recommendations and hear interviews with LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense and thriller novels. Here's your host, Brad Shreve.


Justene  01:01

Hi, and welcome to Queer Writers of Crime. I'm Brad and this is our weekly book recommendation episode. We'll be doing these each week, a couple of days after the author interviews. And if you want details, hang on to the end. And I'll give you a more thorough explanation. Or if you'd want to do yourself a favor, just click the Follow button and you don't have to worry about it at all. But for your regular listeners, you'll be excited to know who I have this week. Justine is here to give this week's recommendation. She's back. Welcome back. Justin Huzzah! I'm here. Yes, many will be excited to back even it's not going to be as often folks.  Justin did agree to come back at least once a month to do a book recommendation. And my expectation I can't guarantee it because it all depends on when we record. My expectation is she will be on the first week of every month. But don't hold me to that. Okay. Okay. All right. So what are you going to talk about to start out this new system I have going here?  Well, I've got a brand new book by Steve Neil Johnson. As people may remember, I reviewed the recommended the first book in his LA after midnight quartet. First Book was The Yellow Canary. And it took him several years after the third book should leave it's seven. Six, okay, six years between the third and the fourth book. And there were times when I wondered if it was still coming out. And he finally published the fourth book, Red Raven. The Quartet follows two men, Jim Blake and an attorney in from the DAs office, Paul, and when they first meet, Paul is a Deputy DA and Jim is a police officer. And between the two of them, when they get out, it eventually wrecks both of those careers. And by this fourth book, they are a lawyer in private practice, and then a private investigator. The books follows them through the decades. The first one is set in the 50s, the 60s, the 70s. And this one is set in the 80s. Each book is set in a moment in time they come together, and then they are apart by the end of the book. But they run into each other every decade or so. This last book is set in the 80s during the height of the AIDS crisis. And you know,


Brad Shreve  02:23

Six.  and don't don't tell me this, but I'm presuming since it's all it was called The LA After Midnight LF Mini. Okay,  So it's called quartet. I want to tell me, I'm gonna guess that things kind of get tied up at the end. But that's a guess.


Justene  03:44

 So going, yeah, they get tied up at the end. They do. Okay. The fourth book is they certainly, you know, I run ReQueered Tales along with Alexander and Matt. And, you know, we publish a lot of books from that era, those authors, a lot of them died during that error. But if you're of the modern era, and you don't read a lot from that time, I think this book is going to be troubling. They visit patients in the AIDS wards. Their main characters are many of them. The not necessarily Jim and Paul, but the other characters that they meet the suspects and their social circle. Many of them are HIV positive. And many of them are dying in the hospital. And set against that backdrop, then, and I do


Brad Shreve  04:34

if I can interject, I've shared on the show many times. I was a very young adult during the during that whole period. Yes, I was sheltered in the Carolinas. And so the whole day crisis was this thing that I kept hearing about going on in the world. And it was through reading Michael Nava's and some other books and I'm sure Steve's book, that I really got an understanding and became appreciative as well. I was very saddened by what happened and kind of sad that I missed out on it because I felt like I should have been there. But if you're not from that era, this sounds like a good book to learn


Justene  05:09

about. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they're in. So they're involved in the local ACT UP group. Paul has a business partner and a life partner together, they take on gay rights cases, people who die of AIDS and then their partner's parents don't want them to visit in the hotel room. And those sorts of pro bono. They work closely with that they act up group and the crime centers around the, the CEO of the blood bank, one of the local blood bank, resale companies, not the American Red Cross, clearly. And he is found in a hot tub in a bath house with his throat slit. So, you know, body and a bath house that reminds me of another book. But there there's that's really where the the similarities end of the book starts with them finding a body in the bath house. Well, they both had their throat, throat slit as well. Yes, yes. And and in fact, you know, people might have suspected that Steve was copying from you, or you are copying from Steve, if, and I will, I will set that notion to rest. Neither one of you talk to the other about the books. No, he did not. And there certainly, you know, it was just an amusing coincidence when I started reading the book. It's a great book, it ties up a lot of storylines in the previous quartet. It's got that Noor feeling of the previous books, the murder is intriguing. And the various suspects and the MacGuffin of the piece. All tied together. Well, it is a creature of the times in which the novel is set. As you know, and many of our listeners know, Steve recently died of cancer. And I suspect that experience may have added some gravitas to how the characters feel about death. That's just speculation. But I think some of that comes through. And I don't know if I'm reading too much into it, but I don't think I am. You are sharing what you got from it, which is what your job is. Right? You got it. So it? Let's see, I don't think then it fits into a lot of the other categories. What what did I use the the well written category for? What did I call that? Oh, I don't remember. I don't either. I didn't know if you were going to continue your class. I did not think I was going to continue and I didn't look it up. I will just say that it is a well written, gritty, gritty, must have been a category gritty novel gets my greedy recommendation. And that doesn't surprise me. He does write gritty. He does very much right, Brad? 


Brad Shreve  07:48

When he was on the show, and shared this a few weeks ago, and I did a special episode when Steve was a guest on the show. I teased him because there were only three books out of a quartet. And it had been quite some time since book number three. He's like, don't go there. You know, whatever. Yeah, he was very embarrassed. So I was so excited that when I heard that final book came out, I'm very sad that he died a few months later. Yeah, but I am glad at least on my part, there was some closure there.



Yes, I am pleased with that. So speaking of authors who have died with their last book, Grant Michaels did a Stan Kraychik series, and he published six books before he died. But there was a seventh book laying around that had not been published by the time he died. And ReQueered Tales, tracked it down, discovered the manuscript at the Boston Athenaeum, got the rights to it, and we are republishing. We're not republishing. What am I talking about? We are publishing for the very, very first time, a brand new Grant Michael's book  7 A Do-Si-Do With Death, and it's available for pre order on Amazon right now. 


Brad Shreve  08:58

Awesome. That's great. 


Justene  08:59

And in connection with that, we're going to be releasing the whole series a few at a time in paperback, so people will be able to get the collection and put it up on their shelves. Oh, and paperback too. Yeah. Yes. Is that new for record? Or have you done some other we've done some others and paperback. And we decided, you know, we hadn't started out doing paperbacks and grant Michaels was one of the very first authors that we published. And we decided that we wanted to wait until we got the brand new book out to really start releasing those in paperback so we can make a whole event of it.


Brad Shreve  09:32

And if you're new listening to the show, ReQueered Tales, Justine and two others Alexander and Matt got together and formed a company called ReQueered Tales and they are taking out of print queer novels, mostly mystery, but not all, and are republishing for your enjoyment to read so they aren't lost forever, which I think is fantastic. I'm still thrilled that you guys are doing this. I think it's a gift to many people.


Justene  09:57

 And so if you sign up for the way weekly newsletter, not only will you get a free book, not from ReQueered Tales, but you'll get a free book. Each week in the newsletter, there will be something special about from you weaker tails either telling you what's coming up or stuff that's going on. So sign up for that  Sounds good. I'll see you next month at this point. Well, let's hang on, I want to tell people I told people the beginning, I'm going to explain what what the new format is. So each week, there's gonna be two episodes, there will be a guest interview. And then later in the week, there will be a second book recommendation episode, it'll be shorter. Obviously, the recommendations are going to be given by a small group of rotating individuals, despite Justine's maddening schedule, as I said, she has agreed to do one each month. So that's kind of what's going to happening, you'll fall into place and start to understand as we go along, but as I said earlier, do yourself a favor, and don't worry about any of this, click the Follow button. And then whenever the app says you got an episode, just listen to the episode, you're gonna you know, you're gonna want to anyway, why should you put a bunch of charts on the wall to figure it out? You know, I'm pretty sure they'll all have charts just for nostalgia purposes. Because this show is so important. Don't we know? All right. Well, it's good to see you again, and I'm glad to have you back. Excellent. Excellent. I'm glad the whole show is return.


Announcer  11:21

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