Friday 14 October 2022



Synopsis/blurb ...

Dante O’Donnell is white, gay and getting older every day. He has wasted his better years on starstruck dreams and the wrong men, so now he's working as a concierge for a vacation-rental outfit in Palm Springs, where the guests have far more baggage than what's packed in their suitcases. But when he finds a dead body floating in the swimming pool at one of his rentals, his own troubled past comes back to haunt him. So he turns for help to Jazz Friendly, a Black woman who, when she was a Palm Springs cop, nearly arrested him for murdering his husband, which he didn't do...not that he knows who did. Now Jazz is a struggling PI, her career derailed by racism. And with her marriage broken by booze, she's desperate to get custody of her kid. Dante and Jazz need each other to solve this murder...and to save themselves from personal and professional disaster.

"Michael Craft is bound to nab accolades for his new that weds the shadowy mystique of noir and the sunny beauty of the desert to winning ends." The Desert Sun

"Craft, as always, mixes plot and dialogue deftly, stirring humor, humanity, and mayhem to create believable characters that go about the business of solving crime with a twist of wry. You’ll beg to see more of these two." Lavender Magazine

Desert Getaway was a quirky, enjoyable murder mystery featuring an unlikely couple of investigators. 

Dante O'Donnell discovers a dead body in the swimming pool of a rental property. Elements of the story have dimmed in my memory in the six weeks or so since I read it, so how he ends up as an unofficial assistant to a PI looking into the crime eludes me now. I'm sure it was plausible and made sense at the time. There's a certain irony to the situation, insofar as he is working closely with Jazz Friendly, a down-on-her-luck PI. Their paths crossed previously when she arrested him for the murder of his husband, something he was totally innocent of.

It's quite a light mystery with lots of humour in the narrative and the situations. Dante is gay, footloose and fancy free and has more than a few liaisons during the course of the book. A near neighbour is a regular hook-up as is one of the suspects in the murder case. Jazz Friendly is slightly more serious minded. The pair bond and Dante helps and encourages her in her sobriety, as well as supporting her efforts to remain close to her child, which her ex-husband has custody of. He also helps furnish her dull office. Is it a given that gay men know how to decorate?

I enjoyed the relationship dynamics, probably a bit more than the murder investigation. I can't really remember too much about the victim. I cared insofar as how it impacted on O'Donnell. 

Answers are arrived at after some amateur sleuthing and snooping, and the outcome stacked up and made sense. There are more than a few suspects or persons of interest. The motive for the crime needs establishing before too much progress can be made. An event from the past also gets settled. The setting of Palm Springs was also a plus.

This one has been badged as the first in Craft's Dante and Jazz series. If there's a second at some point I'll be interested in reading it, assuming time allows. That's one yardstick for measuring my enjoyment of a book - would I want to read more from the author and about the same main characters in the future? In this case, yes.    

3.5 from 5

Read - September, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 282
Source - review copy from publisher Brash Books
Format - Paperback


  1. This does sound quirky and light, without being 'frothy,' Col. I especially like the fact that Dante and Jazz have a good working relationship with there being a romance angle. That can get a bit tiresome, I think. And the story itself sounds enjoyable, too. Glad you found things to like.

    1. There was a lot to like about it, Margot.

  2. Light with humor usually works for me. Thanks for the tip, Col.