Pretty Boy Dead, by Jon Michaelsen

A review by Piet Bach


Although this is Jon Michaelsen’s first novel, it isn’t his first book, nor is it his first writing.  He has written numerous short stories and a novella, and collaborated with another writer on an erotic thriller.  It’s far from his first rodeo, in other words.

PrettyBoyDead by Jon MichaelsenThis is actually the first in a planned series featuring a closeted police detective, Kendall Parker, employed by the Atlanta Police Department, and the metaphorical closet plays an important part in the story line.  Briefly, the plot begins with the murder of a go-go boy from one of the more glittery gay clubs in Atlanta, then tracks an investigation involving Atlanta’s underworld, several families ranging in social importance from rich and mighty to political and influential to homeless and desperate, and enough twists and turns to make a roller coaster ride seem like a pleasant drive in the country.  Michaelsen draws his characters well, and sets his scenes carefully, drawing the reader in and keeping the final twist hidden until practically the last moment the reader’s nerves can stand.

The book is a finalist for this year’s Lambda Literary Awards in the Gay Mystery category (the winners will be announced in early June), and it’s easy to understand why it made such an impression.  I will pull back a bit, however, and say that I would have enjoyed the story much, much more if the editing had been better; both the copy editing and the story editing left something to be desired, and the book would have benefited from more polish.  Given that objection, however, I still would recommend it as a good mystery and one that will hold your interest right up to the end.  I will be waiting eagerly for Michaelsen’s next Kendall Parker tale.


Pretty Boy Dead, a Kendall Parker mystery, by Jon Michaelsen
Wilde City Press 2013

Go here to buy it.

e-book, 350 pp., $7.99 — ISBN: 978-1-925031-59-1

paperback, 306 pp., $14.99 — ISBN-13: 978-1-925031-60-7


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