Thin as Smoke

Gay retro with a twist

by Erin O'Quinn

Thin as Smoke - Erin O'Quinn - Gaslight Mystery
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781311878656
ePub: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781311878656
PDF: $ 4.99 USD
ISBN: 9781311878656

Even after three Gaslight Mystery novels—on the first anniversary of their meeting—uptight, closeted Simon is still more out of than into Michael’s bed. And now a thin but attractive man emerges from the smoke of the gay pub Paddy’s.

It’s Dashiell Hammett. And he’s not there for an autograph signing. His presence is the catalyst for a profound change in the lives of both 1920s private eyes as they face Mafia bootleggers, careless revolvers, and the dead end of their ever-edgy partnership.

Hammett’s unexpected arrival forces the PIs to work apart. Simon, jealous of the man’s ties with his sometime-lover, must act alone to track down a group of dedicated criminals. Michael, remembering his uneasy past with the hollow-chested operative, barely manages to keep his wits after discovering the disappearance of his partner.

A year to develop…a day to destroy. What will happen to the private eye duo of Michael and Simon?

The fourth of the Gaslight Mystery novels

This book is on:
  • 2 To Be Read lists
  • 1 Read list

From Chapter Ten, "A Change of Identity"

Despite the low visibility and slick city streets, he drove almost by rote, thinking about his last brazen words to Michael before parting. Not more than a few hours ago, he’d been adamant about shunning the man on this grim anniversary. And yet less than a quarter of an hour had elapsed since he’d come near to demanding the time and place of a rendezvous this evening. What was wrong with him?

He hardly dared admit it, even to himself, but he had to face a certain truth. The sudden intrusion of an attractive man named Dashiell Hammett seemed to have changed everything.

The bell of Kell Pádraig had already struck one of the afternoon when he pulled into the drive-up of the North Street warehouse. Cursing himself for his lapse yesterday, he sorely missed his cane-umbrella as he ducked out of the motorcar and opened the double doors of his oversized parking garage.


By the time Simon reached the PI office door, he was soaked to the bone. Several months ago, Michael had insisted they import the tall cabinet, which now held a few changes of clothing. At the time, Simon had quailed, protesting the added expense and the labor of toting it up the stairs. But now he could kiss the man’s glorious butt for the addition of the second-hand wardrobe.

Yes, I could kiss it for that reason and a few others besides.

Turning the key and swinging open the door, he glanced toward Michael’s small sanctuary. The dim light afforded him the silhouette of his partner’s meager furnishings.

He missed the man already. He imagined him in that tiny motorcar, knee-to-knee with Dashiell. Or worse. The picture of a flesh-and-blood Michael McCree took shape in front of his eyes as he regarded the large stiff-backed wooden chair. One year ago. A perilous adventure just completed. The sight of a man standing at that very chair, in between changing from kaffies to dress slacks…
Trembling with suffused excitement, as always after the conclusion of a harrowing case, he could not help glancing toward Michael’s backside. Unconscious of his gaze, the man had bent to put on a fresh pair of trousers. The sight turned his gut to jelly.

A firm ass covered with silken down. A set of drooping testicles cobwebbed with golden hair. Flat muscles rippling and beckoning in the gaslight.

“Do not turn around.” His own voice crackled in the large, silent room.

His partner, no doubt astonished, obeyed. Simon knelt behind him. His tongue flicked and flayed the soft flesh, and then found the yielding anus. While his fingers splayed the butt cheeks, he began to suck and probe…

Simon wrenched his mind from the memory. Why now, dammit? I have work to do, and fast.

Reviews:padme35 on Amazon wrote:

Simon and Michael are spectacular once again. I love the fact that this installment is centered around their one year "anniversary". We get to see how each of them see that fateful day and when you throw in their new case and the addition of Michael's old colleague, you have yourself a perfect addition to the Gaslight Mysteries.

Speaking of Michael's old colleague, Sam Hammett, it's a special treat for me. Not only does Sam bring a new element to the story, an inkling of Michael's history and Simon dealing with the jealousy that Sam's arrival has brought out, but for me it adds a bit of fangirl moments. Sam Hammett, or as most people know him, Dashiell Hammett, is the creator of my most favorite mystery solving couple, Nick and Nora Charles and The Thin Man. Neither The Thin Man nor Hammett's writing skills have any bearing on this story but just the addition of his character into the mix had me giddy going in and once I finished Thin as Smoke, I was just as giddy. Miss O'Quinn weaves Hammett into the world that Simon and Michael live in with creativity and nearly as much charm as Michael used to originally worm his way into Simon's life back in Heart to Hart.

Now for the mystery itself. Perfect for the duo, or should I say trio in this case. I don't think that the case is as big a part of this story as the cases in the first three of the series. However, I do think that how the characters deal with the case and each other is more at the center of Thin as Smoke, which is still part of the mystery so perhaps it's just from a different angle. However you look at the ins and outs of the case, this is a great addition the series and a must read, especially if you like historical settings.

Susan Wilson on Amazon wrote:

She does it every time. When I pick up a book by Erin O’Quinn, I know I’m going to enjoy it. That’s a foregone conclusion. With her Gaslight Mysteries series, it’s not simply enjoyment; it’s magic. One moment I’m sitting in my familiar surroundings opening a book and before I’ve finished the first paragraph, space and time have contracted and I’m in Dun Linden, Ireland, in the early 1920’s.

Thin As Smoke is every bit as magical as the previous three books in the series. O’Quinn delivers both a mystery taut with danger and a love story, just as taut and just as dangerous. In many ways, this is the best of them, and I have loved each one.

Simon Hart, reticent and reluctant to embrace his own sexuality, and boisterous, brash Michael McCree are partners in their firm of private investigators, and often as agents in Michael’s own covert activities. They are also sometime partners in the bedroom, though not nearly often enough to suit Michael. Each is trapped inside the snare of his emotions, straining to find a means of escape, not from each other, but toward each other.

Into this already tense situation comes a presence from Michael’s past, a former partner, one who holds a part of Michael close to his own tubercular chest, one who goes by the familiar name of Dashiell Hammett. Hammett and a private client are each in need of Michael, in one case, and Simon in the other. Rather than their accustomed work together, they must work separately to solve these cases. Separately, but not alone. The man Hammett is there, thin as smoke and yet hard as flint between them.

There is more than one way to step into danger; there is more than one way to damage a relationship, perhaps beyond repair. Though he stands between them, Hammett may hold the key to uniting Michael and Simon in deeper ways than ever before.

It’s a brave author who pulls a flesh-and-blood character into a work of fiction. Rarely have I seen such skillful weaving-in as O’Quinn does in Thin As Smoke. Very highly recommended.

"Bo" on Amazon wrote:

The much-awaited in The Gaslight Series brings us to what is supposed to be the reckoning of the love story of Boston-born Michael McCree and pan-European Simon Hart, private investigators in 1920s Ireland: Michael so head over heels in love with Simon at first blush and Simon denying that he is gay even while fighting his carnal and emotional tangle with Michael.

And then she throws in the unlikely appearance of one Samuel Dashiell Hammett (yes, THAT Dashiell Hammett) and dares us to believe the character and story are both viable and worthy of trust. And she delivers on all scores in another romantic, somewhat violent, adventure that like her other works is held together by the richness of her writing and the strength of her characters and storytelling. (How she manages to slip in the title of the book as a descriptive phrase in a conversation that is crucial to the romance is brilliant. Took my breath away!)

For those familiar with the series, please understand that for the most part this is Simon's story, and even at the end his persona and his way of living will bring a pause to your breathing, if not a tingle to your heart. I must say that Erin O'Quinn lifted my spirits here, but also threw me completely off in one respect: If this is the last in the series, what are you planning next? Hopefully she might spin a tale of a character in all these books who seems to be a logical segue to another series in which both Michael and Simon could appear--hopefully hand-in-hand as well as Heart-to-Hart.

About the Author

Erin O'Quinn was born almost literally on the side of a mountain in Nevada and was hauled kicking and screaming into the nearest town, fifty miles away, to attend first grade. To this day, she claims to be kindergarten-deprived.

O'Quinn earned a few degrees from the University of So. California, but her real education began on the back docks of the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal newspaper; on the good-old-boy car lots in Abilene, TX where she sold new Chryslers and used cars; and in a big-box store in Austin, TX where she alternately hauled pallets and ran a garden center.

You'll find a lot of action-adventure, and a character-centered, plot-centered group of seven series and a few stand-alones

Of 46 published works for adults, 33 (I think) are in the gay lit (M/M) genre. From the Noble Dimensions series (small town/contemporary) to Old World Ireland, Jacobite-era  and modern Scotland; and back to the retro world of Ireland in the Roaring 20s, she says, "My men, and my settings, are no-frills, no hearts and flowers. But I think a certain nobility and even spiritual element often creep in among the honest sexual feelings."

Any reviews you see are unsolicited, and are always welcome.

Settle back, enjoy what Erin O'Quinn calls "literotica with a flare for the unusual...thoughtful and with passions too big for their britches."

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