A big welcome to Joe Cosentino as part of his release of The Player.
WRITING THE PLAYER, PLAYER PIANO MYSTERIES BOOK 1
by Joe Cosentino
After my Nicky and Noah Mysteries series won awards and became incredibly popular to my delight, readers asked if I had written a second LGBTQ mystery romance series. My Jana Lane Mysteries series could have fit the bill, however, the supporting rather than leading characters are LGBTQ in that series. Readers also asked if I had ever written in the fantasy genre. My heralded Tales from Fairyland series (The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland) include fantasy LGBTQ characters, but the stories are my comic gay spins on classic fairytales. Finally, my Cozzi Cove series includes LGBTQ characters in romantic and mysterious situations that border on fantasy, but that highly praised series is more of an LGBTQ romance serial. So, the time had come for The Player!
I love browsing through antique stores, gazing at the items and imagining who might have used them, when, and why. While walking through a quaint antique shop upstate New York, I came across an old player piano. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf pattern molding. In the center section stood the roll of pre-programmed music on perforated paper: George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” from 1926. Not able to stop myself, I sat on the still sturdy bench, pedaled, and the familiar tune played. While listening to the song, I couldn’t help imagining who might have owned the Pianola. Since player pianos were popular with the wealthy in the Roaring Twenties, I imagined the owner, like the piano, was a player and a socialite from a family who made their fortune in the railroad industry. I named him Freddy Birtwistle and envisioned him as tall and lean with slicked-back jet-black hair, violet eyes, high cheekbones, a thin nose, and rosy cheeks. True to the period, he was meticulously dressed in a pinstriped black suit and vest, white silk shirt, and gray suspenders with matching bowtie and silk pocket handkerchief. His shoes were shiny black patent leather with white spats. Even more interesting than my creation’s looks and wardrobe was his alluring and joyous bon vivant personality. I decided Freddy socialized with the rich and famous of his time, and at thirty years old, he was shot by a misinformed jealous husband. An eternal partier, poor Freddy had died having never found true love.
Next, I thought, what if a young, gay, grade school music teacher found the player piano in the basement of his apartment building, and by playing it as I had done, brought back the spirit of Freddy Birtwistle, the original owner of the house? And what if the two men got off to a rocky start but eventually became lovers? Finally, I imagined a murder mystery for them to solve as a ghostly Holmes and earthbound Watson. As Freddy would say, “That would be the bee’s knees!” The Player was born.
Since my readers are so loyal and wonderful, I decided to offer them a special gift with The Player. It is actually two books for the price of one! Part I: The City House takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey as Andre Beaufort, the handsome young protagonist, discovers the player piano in Freddy’s old city mansion (now an apartment building) and ultimately falls in love with Freddy. When Andre’s neighbor is murdered in the building, Andre must protect his aunt, his best buddy, and himself by joining with Freddy (who only Andre can see—leading to comical misunderstandings) to catch the murderer. In Part II: The Country House, Andre travels to Freddy’s old country home in Cold Spring, New York, which has become a bed and breakfast. Andre discovers a player piano there as well, which joyously brings Freddy to him there. When the owner of the inn is murdered, Andre and Freddy a la Holmes and Watson are back at the game of solving the murder mystery as they continue to fall deeper in love.
The mysteries include lots of sexy characters, cozy settings from the Art Deco period, humor, surprising plot twists and turns, fun red herrings, a touch of drama, a shocking yet justifiable ending, and of course lots of sweet romance.
I hope everyone will give The Player a play. I’m sure, like Andre, you will fall in love with Freddy and have a great deal of fun trying to solve these cozy mysteries. And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
When young music teacher Andre Beaufort discovers an antique player piano in the basement of his apartment building, he is visited by the ghost of the original owner: a dapper and charismatic playboy from the Roaring Twenties, Freddy Birtwistle.
Andre has never seen a ghost and Freddy has never been one, so they get off to a rocky start. But when Andre finds his neighbor murdered on his doorstep, he and Freddy join forces to narrow the pool of suspects.
Soon Andre and Freddy discover that opposites attract, even if one’s alive and the other dead. Together these amateur detectives make an enticing team, and it’s a good thing too, because the first murder they solve together won’t be their last. But the real mystery isn’t just whodunit—it’s how a romance between a man and a ghost can have a happily ever after ending.
The Player contains two stand-alone cozy murder mysteries, The City House and The Country House.
Praise for Joe Cosentino’s Books:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless…will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet.” Urban Book Reviews
“The author executed his storyline with a marvelous precision that would be the envy of many authors. He draws the readers into the lives of his characters, they become real and in turn, their emotions becomes yours….If you can only afford to buy one more book this year, buy this one.” Three Books Over the Rainbow Reviews
“I really loved this book and having an ending that made me laugh and cry at the same time is testament to the brilliant writing.” BooksLaidBareBoys
Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays/The Perfect Gift/The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland/Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Found At Last: Finding Giorgio and Finding Armando; the Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press): Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
THE PLAYER piano stood upright, demanding my attention and beckoning me toward it. Having an MA in Music, specializing in the Roaring Twenties era, I could tell it was a genuine pianola authentic to the period. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf-pattern molding. Aunt Nia stood next to me in the corner of the basement with her hand planted firmly on her ample hip. Her familiar scent of coconut soap permeated my senses.
“Andre Beaufort, are you going to stare at that dusty old piano while the entire apartment building floats into the Hudson River?” My aunt missed her calling as an actress.
“How long has this pianola been here?” I asked.
“I’d say since the year of the flood, but with this leaky pipe, I don’t want to tempt the fates.” She handed me a roll of Teflon duct tape, led me to the ladder, and pushed me by my behind up to the top. “You get that bubble butt from my side.” She giggled.
My father, French Canadian, and my mother, African American, had died with my baby brother in a car crash when I was four years old. My mom’s sister had raised me ever since in the building she managed, an Art Deco mansion converted into an apartment building. I had lived in apartment 1B with Aunt Nia until my twenty-first birthday. For the last four years, I’ve exerted my independence and lived on my own—in apartment 3A—a walk-up that keeps my legs toned and my inherited butt firm. As I ripped a piece of thick tape off the roll, I asked Aunt Nia, “Shouldn’t you call a plumber?”
“I did, but he’s booked until the end of July.” Looking authoritarian in her peach ankara maxi dress and matching bib collar necklace, Aunt Nia announced, “The tape should hold for a month.”
“Is that all right with the owner of the building?”
“How can you work for someone you’ve never met?”
Still beautiful at fifty-five, Aunt Nia shook her head, and long dreads formed a halo around her smooth face. “I get my monthly check, and the bills are paid. So Florida’s Tzar Me In Corporation is all good by me.”
“But shouldn’t they know about this?”
“What the owner doesn’t know won’t hurt him—or me. I’ll email ‘office’ about it.”
I wrapped the tape around the pipe and the leak stopped. “Maybe I should have been a plumber.”
She snickered. “You’d make more money.”
“True, but you know I love teaching.” I grinned. “Now that it’s the end of June.”
“I hear that.” Aunt Nia, who was a high school guidance counselor, chuckled as she helped me down the ladder.
As a grade school music teacher, it was fulfilling to share my love for music with children, teaching them about history, culture, self-expression, emotion, and different sounds to calm and delight. However, with so much state-required administrative work thrust upon me lately, fewer children labeled “gifted and talented,” and pushy parents demanding their tone-deaf and entitled children have solos in the school’s spring concert, I was in dire need of my summer break.
After handing my aunt the roll of tape, I was drawn back to the player piano. Sitting on the dusty bench, I sneezed and then placed my feet on the pedals. The center section at my eye level was open, so I could see the roll of preprogrammed music on perforated paper. It was a George Gershwin song from 1926: “Someone to Watch Over Me.” As I pressed the pedals, a few familiar notes played. “It still works!” I rose and lifted the top of the bench. “Aunt Nia, there are nine more rolls of music in here! Who owns this?”
“It must have been left here by the original owner in the 1930s. The building has changed ownership a few times since then. I guess nobody wanted it. I can’t say that I blame them.”
“Can I have it?”