Dana reviews Drama Queen ( A Nicky and Noah Mystery Book 1) by Joe Cosentino (Published on audio by Lethe Press, July 27, 2015, 6 hours 31 minutes. Ebook and paperback released June 6, 2015, 194 pages) An audio copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. Cover Design: Ben Baldwin. Narrated by Michael Gilboe
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!
Noah led me to a window seat in a corner of the theatre lobby. White snow fell softly outside the window behind us like cotton bits in a glass ball. I could tell something was bothering Noah, and it hurt me that he was hurting.
“I don’t want to take advantage of our friendship.”
Take advantage! “What’s wrong?”
“It’s about my tenure application.”
I thought back to the neurosis, prayers, nightmares, and sheer terror before my tenure decision. “Noah, anybody lucky enough to get a tenure track position nowadays goes through the jitters stage. It’s not fun, but it’s part of the game. I read your application. It’s very strong. All the students and all the faculty in the department like you.”
His head dropped to his chest. “Not everybody.”
David, the self-prescribed technical theatre god, strikes again.
“I went to David’s office while you were giving notes.”
Tongue firmly in cheek, I said, “And the two of you had a cozy little chat about your promising future at Treemeadow College?”
Noah let out an I Love Lucy, “Hah!” then continued. “After complimenting David on the set design for the show, I mentioned my positive student surveys, and my supportive evaluations from Martin as department head.”
“And when you asked if he will support your tenure, David said he’d have to think about it.” I sneered. “That’s what David said to me when I applied for tenure.” I felt my jaw, hands, and knees clench in unison. “His was my only no vote, which I will never forget.”
“I fared worse than you. David came right out and told me I am too easy on my students, and that like most gay men I am too weak to be a dynamic lecturer.”
“That’s a lie. And against the law in this state.”
Noah’s magnificent lips pouted. “David told me that he wouldn’t support my tenure if I gave him a thousand dollars.”
“He’s never supported anyone for tenure. He has voted against every new course and program modification proposal in the department. He even voted against having a department holiday party. But David’s is only one vote.”
Resting his warm hand on my grateful shoulder, Noah said, “Nicky, David is running for department head.”
“He won’t win against Martin.”
Slumping back against the window seat, Noah said, “There are only seven tenured faculty members in our department. David can be very persuasive.”
“Ariella may be David’s wife but she’s her own person, and she likes you a great deal. And I doubt Jackson Grier would support David since David voted against Jackson’s tenure too.”
“I heard Jackson and David arguing in David’s office tonight before I went in to talk to David about my tenure. Jackson slammed the door and left in a huff.”
“What were David and Jackson arguing about?”
Noah’s shrugged. “I heard David criticizing Jackson’s movement and stage combat choreography for the show. Then all I could get were the words, ‘fresh start.’” Soft lines surfaced on Noah’s handsome face. “David could be making deals, offering his support to faculty if he becomes department head and if they vote against my tenure.”
I stood and lifted Noah to his feet. “Come on, young man.”
He looked like a school boy at a fire drill. “Where are we going?”
“Where everyone in our department brings all of our problems. To the Wizard of Theatre Arts.”
I found the narration to be pretty good. Michael Gilboe uses different tones and accents to differentiate between the characters well. I’d definitely listen to him again.
Drama Queen is quite unlike any mystery I’ve read or listened to so far. It starts with the main characters. Noah and Nicky are professors in the drama department of a university. Both have zero experience in police work or investigations. It seems odd when the head of the drama department asks them to look into things involving the murder of a fellow professor. Now I’ve read a lot of stories where one mc took on sleuthing with no experience but usually a detective or police officer paired up with them to make sure any discoveries were handled properly. But I found that Nicky and Noah actually did a pretty good job asking the appropriate questions and cataloging information to make good educated guesses.
The cast of characters is very large in this book. Most of it involves the drama department, teachers and students alike, but also a few film students and professors in other departments add to the ever growing list of dead bodies and murder suspects. As the number of victims increases, the play that Nicky and Noah are working on is put on hiatus and the drama department shut down. It does add to the incentive that the two men find out who is taking out the faculty members but I was a little surprised that the school didn’t shut down altogether.
I found the mystery aspect of the story to be well written. In most mystery books I’ve read, I’d say that 75% of the time I can deduce the killer before the investigators do. However in this book I was taken by surprise and no idea who it was until it was plainly revealed. I have to say the suspect list was high and the motives were numerous, but it stumped me, and I appreciate that the killer was not necessarily the most obvious suspect.
The way the story was told was a little different than most mysteries or m/m romances. It seemed to me that the narrative point of view played towards the reader. There were little jokes almost sent off like punch lines with a wink and a nudge. Most of the book was pretty funny, but sometimes I found that the humor was an obvious jab instead of a joke. Of course the only priest in the book at a funeral was checking out the altar boys, and the graduate student/teachers assistant was trying to sleep his way into a higher position.
Despite the few jokes that were a miss for me, I did enjoy the story. The narration was good, the mystery left me guessing, and I would definitely recommend it. I look forward to reading the next Nicky and Noah mystery for sure.
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation & A Shooting Star & A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press fairytale novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com