A Slip to Die For [STUD DRAQUAL Series, Book 1]
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by William Maltese
Description: Someone had not only killed the writer, who'd been an "underground" movie star, model, hustler, and cross-dresser, but had also murdered the borderline drunk, who'd been a TV-network executive and anchorman for the evening news. Each corpse had been carefully draped in Draqualian silk, a very special silk created by very special silkworms who ate very special mulberry leaves. Stud Draqual knew all about the silk, and knew the dead men too. Two things were immediately clear: the killings weren't accidental, and they were both connected directly to Studand he needed to be very careful indeed to penetrate the mystery without being murdered himself! A gay erotic mystery by a master of the genre!
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 1999 USA
eBookwise Release Date: April 2009
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [200 KB]
Reading time: 110-154 min.
The story is high-speed and leaves the reader almost no pause to catch his/her breath.. -- 10.11.00 Eurogay / Book Review / referencing German-language edition
"I wanted to write a mystery placed in the world of fashion," William Maltese writes about his novel (which gives) the former Gay Times editor a chance to make full use of his quite amusing style of writing. -- Outline; October 2000 - referring to the German-language
...a modern-day hero compelling enough to have us actually care what(is)still destined to complicate his already complicated life. -- TgForum; Christmas 2000 double-issue
...this brilliant mystery persiflage tells of the ironic twists and turns fate holds in store for everybody once in awhile. -- SZ, Book Review, 9 January 2001, referring to the German-language edition
A SLIP TO DIE FOR is a fast-and-furious -- fun-and-sexy -- story that will constantly keep guessing its intended cross-over audience that includes straights, lesbians, gays, and transexuals. -- Open Door Ltd, Profile; September/October 2000
As a writer of romance novels, I'm here to bear testament that William Maltese's A SLIP TO DIE FOR is mainstream-reader (whether male or female) friendly. I'm thoroughly impressed by how the writer manages to impart some pretty sexual stuff without leaving me in a perpetual blush. Although, yes, the novel is a tad kinky, and does deal with some sexual aspects you're not likely to find in one of my romance novels, or in the romance novel of anyone else, none of it, at least to me, seemed all that out of context or "over the top". It does make for some damned interesting and highly enjoyable reading that couldn't proceed at any faster-clip. Personally, I can't wait for Maltese to bring us book two. -- Anna Lambert, author of LOVE'S COURAGE
I'll admit that when I heard a publisher was on the look-out for published writers to offer up pre-publication reviews of a William Maltese first-mystery-in-a-series, my motives in volunteering were less than altruistic. After all, Maltese, albeit under a pseudo, was my competition for sci-fi readers back in the early eighties. When Maltese moved on to successes in romances, under yet another pseudo, I was more than a little jealous of his successful avoidance of the pigeon-holing to which I'd apparently, despite all protest, succumbed. Surely, went my line of thinking, an author who succeeded in so many genres already isn't likely to be successful in mystery, too. Wrong! A SLIP TO DIE FOR is fast-paced, funny, sexy, and different enough so that you're never trapped into suspicions, as with so many other detective novels these days, that you've read, somewhere/anywhere else, what Maltese writes. If you're a mystery fan (man or woman), don't pass up this one! -- Adrina deBolt, author of VOYAGE OF THE TRIGON
No one writes erotica quite like William Maltese, and this book shouldn't be missed by any lover of subtle erotica... -- Erotica-Readers, Featured Titles; October 2000
Stylized camp US murder mystery, which amuses and entertains. -- Out-Brighton, Book Reviews; September 2000
The death of Gerald Kaney, his corpse decked out in bullet-riddled slip of red Draqualian, was what in the final shakeout actually put my name and product before the public and inspired the million-dollar slogan, Lingerie to Die For! Not that I hadn't gotten my fair share of publicity when Don deZinn ended his much-publicized life in a black Stud Draqual creation which had been pre-sold to him prior to its appearance in my Summer-Fall Catalog.
What was even more attention-getting about Gerald--as if the very thought of Gerald Kaney dressed in a women's red slip hadn't been enough--was that few people, myself among them, would have expected him to be found dead, quite literally, wearing Catalog Item #X1456 since it, too, had been pre-sold to Don deZinn. It was the Women's Wear Daily star reporter, Henry Kleff, who connected the red to the black; and it didn't take long after that until Inspector John O'Reilly, New York Police Department, Detective Branch, came knocking on my office door.
"Mr. Stud--" He paused as if in stunned incredulity. "--Draqual, is it?" He was in his early 40's, not particularly well-dressed, but no slouch either. Slightly ravaged. Handsome in his way: square jaw, cleft chin, vertically carved left cheek. Sometime in the past he'd had that dreaded one drink too many, and the effects since then had been cumulative.
He flashed the photographs of Gerald's cold, very dead, very red-silk clad body, and wanted to know if Mr. Kaney had been gay.
People often make the false assumption--and O'Reilly was apparently no exception--that any man, like I, in the lingerie business simply had to have wide knowledge of all the sexual perversities of which human beings are capable and particularly those of the most aberrant and kinkiest sort. They would never believe I had come into the business screaming and kicking in protest. I'd scarred my slender body and fragile mind for years proving my manhood and trying to live down my father's success as the most innovative producer and purveyor of female underwear in the business. It was polo, that princely but rugged sport, which turned out to be the final outlandish macho endeavor which put me in the hospital and, as the crooners would have it, done me in.
"Wouldn't you be surer of a correct answer to that question from Gerald's ex?" That's how I saw it.
"I'll talk to her, rest assured. In the meantime--"
I cut him off by launching into a lengthy and graphically detailed dissertation on the differences and similarities among gay, homosexual, queer, fag, transsexual, nancy, transvestite, drag, and cross-dresser. But this cop had been around the block too many times and had seen more than enough of his share of the bent and crooked to be shaken by anything I might say to embarrass him. He simply and quite literally ignored me.
Meeker and more humbled than I would care to admit, I summed up my little lecture by finally telling him that, as far as I knew, Gerald's sex life was no kinkier--and probably less so--than some of the stuff he, O'Reilly, had no doubt bumped up against in his long and illustrious career with the N.Y.P.D.
Not that I was privy to Gerald's bedroom secrets. All I had to go on was the talk. There was always plenty of that!, and, yes, the few times when we had found ourselves in the same grunting and groaning dog pile which, if the various components had been sifted and labeled according to sex, wouldn't necessarily have turned up being of the correct male-to-female ratio every time. That had been during the eighties, when even the most macho heterosexual cocks man couldn't always tell, via the Braille method, what was what and who was whom among all those bodies slipping and sliding on Crisco-ed rubber sheets in some dark room.
O'Reilly then wanted to know if Mr. DeZinn had ever been interested (I found his euphemism a bit quaint), in Gerald Kaney.
The only thing I was sure of was that Don had experienced more than his share of brotherly love. He'd been a hustler, after all, and had never made any bones about it. And the gay scene had been very much a part of his business, even after he had moved on to bigger and better things. "It would have to be a pretty damn big dick," Don had told me, once, "to top some I've seen in my time."
"Or didn't he consider Mr. Kaney, uh, shall we say, sufficiently endowed?" Obviously O'Reilly was aware of the gossip around town that Don had been a size-queen.
"Is there anyone between Earth and Betelgeuse who didn't consider Gerald well-hung?" I'd played squash with Gerald more than once and had seen him in the showers enough times to know what I knew. For someone like me, who believed I had been definitely short-changed in the cock department, Gerald had been the brunt of a helluva lot of size-envy. Not that I told O'Reilly any of this.
"I mean--" O'Reilly didn't bother to finish. He tapped one of the photos. The picture was proof enough that Gerald had not only been hung like a horse, but had also chosen a Draqualian slip far too short to conceal his giant-size manhood. Don's crotch, as well as Gerald's, had been airbrushed from sight in all the subsequent supermarket checkout-counter tabloids.
"As far as I know, the relationship between Gerald and Don was strictly a business one."
O'Reilly wasn't about to let that slide. "As far as you know?"
"But a sexual thing was possible?"
The cop was making me defensive and uneasy. My supercilious grin was aimed deliberately at giving him the impression that I knew there are some pretty strange people out there, among whom he could consider himself, who are more turned on by hearing about it than doing it.
"Anything's possible," I said. Too bad Don wasn't alive to give O'Reilly the nitty-gritty. Don had not only been a walking encyclopedia of clinical body functions, but could--and would, too, when of a mind--expound upon them at length and with great expertise.
"Okay, then, what about their business relationship?"
"Don thought it was time to let the eagerly-awaiting world know what kind of life he'd led," I replied, "and a couple of big-name publishers were interested. Trouble was, he couldn't write for shit. But his life story was juicy enough to have pushed to the top of any best-seller list and stayed there." Maybe O'Reilly figured it was one or more of those juicy bits that had gotten Don killed--maybe even had gotten Gerald killed. "Telaman Press won the bidding war."
"Gerald was Don's ghostwriter?" There was no need to ask me. O'Reilly knew better, but I played along with his little game of double-checking, triple-checking, quadruple-checking, however-many checking each and every little piece of information which had been fed him during the course of the investigation. I was smart enough to know that something might eventually click and hand the police the one clue necessary to solve two murders. And I noted O'Reilly's switch to first names, too, and wondered why he was beginning to feel cozy.
"Gerald wasn't a writer, either. His forte was looking great in front of a TV camera."
I had always figured the brass had done itself a very bad turn when they kicked Gerald's ass upstairs to Vice President of Production; so had a lot of the all-important Nielsen-rating families who abandoned the network like rats off a sinking ship. There had been talk that Gerald was going back on the air; however, instead of taking what would have been a serious gamble, the network recruited handsome Mr. Phil Metcalf from an L.A. affiliate to fill Gerald's spot and to lure back the fickle, broken-hearted viewers.
"Stan Greenlyne was ghosting," I continued in answer to O'Reilly's question.
Stan Greenlyne had started his literary career by writing dirty books--one, sometimes two, a month--for a soft-porn publisher out of San Diego. From there, he'd graduated to romances, writing under the pseudonym Pamela Dreen. He'd then formed his own publishing house, Telaman Press, and under the aegis of his own imprint had ghostwritten Telaman's first best-seller, CONFESSIONS OF A RED DESOTA. This was the autobiography of an Indian kid who had slept his way off the reservation and into some of the biggest and most important beds in Hollywood. The Telaman Press publication of CONFESSIONS had coincided with the four-hundred-ninety-something anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World, or--as the United Federation of American Indigenous Peoples put it--the anniversary of the exploitation and annihilation of the red man by the white. Not as knock-them-dead publicity as Lingerie to Die For!, but pretty damned good, nonetheless. With its growing backlist of mega-sellers, Telaman Press was now a money-making machine of tremendous power. It had become somewhat of a phenomenon in the business and was looked upon as a cash cow by more than one of the older, more prestigious, more established, less lucrative houses.
Don deZinn's life story was to have been Telaman Press' next and biggest blockbuster.
"So, what's the connection between Gerald and Don?" asked O'Reilly.
"Aside from their mutual good taste in lingerie?" I quipped.
O'Reilly, probably like Queen Victoria, did not find this amusing. "Aside from their possible connection in the bedroom."
He waited patiently to hear what he and I both knew he already knew.
"Don had met Gerald on a TV talk show," I replied. "He liked him. Sexually? Maybe, but not necessarily. Don didn't bed everyone he liked." I was a prime example, but that was none of O'Reilly's business. "All Don knew about Stan Greenlyne in the beginning was that Stan had won the high-stakes bidding war to ghostwrite and publish his life story. As it turned out, when he had gotten to know Stan a little better, he didn't like him. 'A gross bully!' he said. Eventually, Don talked Gerald into acting as sounding board and liaison. The arrangement was that Don would tell his story to Gerald, via tape recorder, and then Gerald would hand over the notes and tapes to Stan. Stan would relay to Gerald what holes needed filling."
O'Reilly actually smiled. A dirty old man after all, despite his squeaky-clean image.
"Gerald the middleman." Succinct and right on the button. No dullard, this cop. "And Gerald's alcohol problem?"
"What about it?" I asked.
"He did have one, didn't he?" O'Reilly was pushing me, and he knew it.
"Did he?" I'd been with my shrink long enough to know about avoiding a question by asking one.
"You tell me."
"Would you define alcohol problem?" I was feeling obstinate, but O'Reilly didn't give even the vaguest hint that I might be getting to him.
"Would you say he drank more than normal? More than you drink, for example?" OKAY! So, O'Reilly had already heard of each and every one of my fall-down drunks.
"I have a low liquor threshold," I said.
"Did Gerald? Or do you think the stories about his being kicked upstairs at the network because of his drinking are exaggerated?" And crafty, too, nailing me with a sudden veer to the present tense like that.
I finessed the question: "I did hear rumors to that effect."
"How about Gerald and Kenneth Salmoth--the talk?"
Ken Salmoth had been a well-fed, well-heeled stockbroker who took a very high-profile dive off a very well-known New York City landmark and didn't survive to tell the tale. Suspicions of embezzlement had circulated around town, but they had all been proven unwarranted in the end. No one seemed to know just why Ken had chucked in the good life.
"That Kenneth Salmoth and Gerald were both one of the boys."
"This cop's persistence with cute euphemisms was getting to me, and I'd had just about enough. "Ken Salmoth never told me Gerald fucked him, or vice-versa, if that's what you mean. Is this going to take much longer? I have work to do."
O'Reilly surprised me. He stood. "There are probably more questions I'll have for you later on. But for now I want to thank you for your cooperation. See you around, Mr. Draqual."
After he had closed the door behind him, I crossed my office to the wet bar and poured a large scotch, took a hefty swallow, and didn't stop shuddering until the taste had burned its way down. I hated the stuff, but God knows I'd drunk enough of the very, very best in thousands of unsuccessful attempts to acquire a taste. It never happened.
I dumped what was left down the sink and poured myself a small pony of creme de cacao. I like creme de cacao. I like creme de menthe. I like Grand Marnier. When given a choice, and feeling confident enough of my manhood, I opt for the tutti-frutti, umbrella-laden concoctions every time.
I glanced at my reflection in the mirror behind the bottles, decanters, and Baccarat crystal. My facial features were too finely chiseled; eyelashes too thick, too dark, and too long; eyes too purple; lips too bee-stung. My physique beneath the form-fitting Brioni suit wasn't bulky enough to warrant the moniker my well-intentioned father had saddled me with--Stud, for Christ's sake! Long hours of weight training had never made a hill-of-beans difference; and on rare occasions, I had contemplated steroids and still did.
Also beneath my suit, my too-small dick.
I rationalized: If, in addition to having feminine good looks and a father who looked like a linebacker but had made his name in women's lingerie, I had been possessed of a killer-sized whang, God only knows how much more fucked up I might have been.