Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review Request & Excerpt: Drama Queen: A Nicky and Noah Mystery by Guest Bloggerpoppa Joe Cosentino

DRAMA QUEEN (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel
from Lethe Press
paperback and ebook available now in all formats
audiobook coming soon

Published June 6th 2015 by Lethe Press (paperback)
It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky's huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant...and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino's fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Review by: multitaskingmomma

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I do so love mysteries and especially if it has an MM twist. Joe Cosentino has just dropped Drama Queen which features two college theater professors who found themselves in the middle of a murder mystery. This is a who-dun-it a la Agatha Christie but where that woman wrote seriously, this one is quite the snorting laughter type.

Nicky Abbondanza, Professor of Play Directing, has a play production in rehearsal when the whole mystery unfolds. His star actor is acting stranger (well for him) than usual and with him are three hangers-on who absolutely lose themselves under his gaze. Then there is that Professor of Theatre Management/Theatre he barely tolerates who cannot seem to find it in himself to be civil to Nicky. The Professor of Acting is catching his eye and heart while one student is distracting him with multiples of 'uhm' inserted into his grammar. In short, Nicky is distracted and heartbroken. The object of his desire, Noah Oliver (the distracting professor who caught his eye), may just be in a relationship with a student.

Then one professor falls dead. The four students seem to be involved in a secret Nicky cannot discover the answer to, and Noah is looking at him with lust in his eyes. Just as things get a little bit more interesting, another professor falls dead. Noah turns to him for comfort after finding out he is the main suspect to the deaths. Just as they combine forces and saliva, a third professor falls dead and the four students are discovered to be involved in some lurid activity. Nicky's head is just about to explode and Noah is giving him the comfort he had always dreamed of. In the meantime, police detectives are not doing their jobs but one is complicating Nicky's life with his innuendos.

All the time this is going on, we read Nicky's actions and his thoughts, private ones, of things going on around him and without. He pragmatically says one thing but thinks in a drama queen sort of way making us realize that Nicky is just like us. Human.

The tangled weave of murder mystery and other mysteries comes to a startling conclusion that is both satisfying and mind boggling. This is a true comedic and satirical tale set in a fictional college that had been founded by two gay men. Oh, if this college were truly existing today, I wonder how the Republicans would condemn it.

Really enjoyable and light hearted read. Not a cozy mystery per se, but it is. Romantic? Just a bit. 

Queenie? Fantabulously!

by Joe Cosentino

They say, ‘write what you know about,’ so that’s what I did. I have always been a huge fan of Agatha Christie mystery novels and mystery television shows. Armistead Maupin’s quaint and endearing characters, along with his unpredictable storylines, have long been my favorites. Coming from a family where my mother sang “Let Me Entertain You” from the musical Gypsy while she mopped the kitchen floor, and my father wrapped my mother’s sweater around his torso and danced the hula (with a cigar in his mouth) while singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” from the musical South Pacific, I have long had a wacky sense of humor. As a college theatre professor, I realized theatre departments at colleges are little havens of comedy, drama, mystery, and intrigue. So I put all those things together and the Nicky and Noah mystery series was born. I was happy to find Steve Berman at Lethe Press, a publisher who values gay comedy and mystery. 

In the first novel, Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. Since the junior detective on the case seems more interested in getting into Nicky’s well-endowed pants than solving the crime, it is up to Nicky (and top suspect Noah) to figure out who-dun-it. In Drama Muscle, Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise, Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In the fourth novel (not written yet) Drama Aloha, Nicky and Noah will direct a luau show in Hawaii and find muscular male hula dancers dropping like grass skirts. (My father would like that.) Each of the novels has a large cast of colorful characters, and a solid mystery the reader can solve right along with Nicky and Noah. Readers can also enjoy taking a front seat as Nicky and Noah’s relationship intensifies throughout the series.

Readers tell me they laugh hysterically at the antics of Nicky and Noah in Drama Queen. As Nicky and Noah fall in love with each other, readers fall in love with them. The mystery also captivates mystery buffs who compliment me on the novel’s hidden clues, red herrings, plot twists and turns, and surprising yet justified ending. Though released for a very short time, Drama Queen currently ranks in the top fifty Best Sellers in its category on Amazon Kindle. It is also available in paperback, and will be an audiobook soon. 

I love hearing from readers. So please contact me via my web site at

Get your program, take your orchestra seat, and enjoy this new theatrical mystery series. The curtain is going up!


From Chapter 1

Surrounded by darkness, I sat tensely watching as a young, beautiful man lay on the floor with blood dripping off his six-pack abs. I held my breath. Another muscular young man stood over the first and looked down with a vengeful gaze and devious smirk. My heart pounded as he strutted through the quiet street in his long flowing cape, weaving from corpse to corpse. His knife, erect, poised. “The Lord is vengeful and strong in wrath. And revenge is oh so sweet,” he said.

“Blackout then lights up!”

Tyler, the technical theatre graduate assistant running the lighting board, hit a button, and our Treemeadow College theatre once again sported its Victorian proscenium, cream-colored walls, maple wood wainscoting, bronze wall sconces, and ruby red stage curtain.

Sitting behind the director’s desk (actually a wooden plank temporarily set up in the center of the audience seating area) I scribbled a last note before shouting, “Good work, everyone!

Please get out of costume and make-up as quickly as possible and join me in the first two rows of the house for notes.”

Students scurried about: the actors off the stage; the technicians behind the set securing lighting and prop pieces.

Since it is tech week for my show, I have been working in our Edwardian style theatre every evening alongside our workaholic technical director. Tyler Thompson is our technical theatre professor’s graduate assistant, who like all good technical directors, eats, sleeps, breathes, and basically lives in our Scene Shop behind the stage. Standing at five feet tall with mountainous shoulders, a broad back, powerful arms, thick hands, and stick legs, Tyler rules over all things sound, lights, projections, set pieces, and props at Treemeadow College. When he leaves, we will be at a total loss to find or do anything technical in our theatre.

Sets for plays used to consist of wooden flats screwed together to create the walls of a room or a slide projection of a building.

Nowadays no set is worth its weight in a Tony Award if it doesn’t include moving film projections of farmland, urban settings, fireworks, or whatever exterior is called for in a given scene.

“I’ll fix the video of the street scene for tomorrow night, Nicky.” Tyler slumped in a chair next to me as the familiar smell of pepperoni, his staple food, and sawdust stung my nose. He wore his usual techie attire: a soiled white T-shirt under frayed overalls above worn workboats. This look was accented by a gold cross around his neck, tattoos on his arms (like an illustrated book with words, numbers, and pictures), and long, stringy, unwashed hair.

Tyler scratched at his beard, a result of him not having shaved (or washed) since we started tech. “I also want to fix the sound cue for the siren, and change a few gels for the red wash across the stage during the murders.”

Before I could thank Tyler, David Samson, Professor of Technical Theatre and our show’s Scenic Designer, barreled down the theatre aisle like a bull in a field of tomatoes, shouting, “Tyler!” David is an imposing six feet two inches tall, weighing about a hundred and eighty pounds with a shaved head.

Tyler froze, and replied like a convicted chemical dumper facing an environmental lynch mob. “Yes, David?”
“You didn’t add in the new light cue I gave you for the top of Act II.”

“I’ll have it for tomorrow night,” Tyler said.

David’s strong features hardened. “Your procrastination and laziness are not acceptable.” He scowled. “Do it now. ”

“Sure, David,” Tyler responded as he leapt off the theatre seat and hurried into the Lighting booth at the back of the theatre.

I came to Tyler’s defense. “David, Tyler has done an amazing job—”

“Nicky, the pacing of the show is too slow. The blocking isn’t balanced. The actors aren’t committing fully to their roles and to listening to one another. This comes as no surprise to me since our Acting professor is as incompetent as you are, Nicky, as our Directing professor. Unfortunately, it seems you’d rather flirt with one another than get to work! This is a disgrace to our department!” David raised his arms in the air like a preacher facing an unrepentant congregation. “You’re the director, Nicky. And I use that term lightly. Your other shows have been insulting to the intelligence of the audience, but this one has reached the pinnacle of being even worse! Will even you let an audience see this repugnant crap?”

“David, this is not the time or place to have this discussion.”

With the student actors and technicians sitting in the front of the theatre (obliviously texting on their phones), my student stage manager, SuCho, screamed for everyone’s attention, and for me to come to the front of the theatre house to give them my notes. This thankfully sent David off to his office in a huff.

After I had given my first few notes, I noticed Noah Oliver standing in the back of the theatre. Noah is tall and lean with curly blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile I have ever wanted to kiss in an Assistant Professor. While I teach Theatre History and Play Directing, Noah is our department’s specialist in Acting, and for good reason. Noah is a terrific actor, a creative and passionate teacher, and a wonderful colleague. More importantly, I have had a crush on him since the moment he made his entrance into our humble campus three years ago. Noah is single, gay, and seems to really like me. Why don’t I ask him out? Noah is twenty-eight years young. As a junior professor in my department in need of my vote for tenure this year, if I make a pass at him it could be considered attempted coercion on my part.

It was difficult for me to concentrate on giving my notes to the students since Scotty Bruno, my graduate assistant and Assistant Director of the play, was talking, laughing, and obviously flirting with Noah in the rear of the theatre. I had reason to be concerned.

Scotty has bleached blond hair, contact lens turquoise eyes, ultra-white bonded teeth, and muscles as if sculpted by Michelangelo, housed in multicolored, stuffed shorts and tank top (in winter) that were not unnoticed by Noah. Unless I was becoming nearsighted, I could have sworn that Scotty whispered something into Noah’s ear then handed Noah a box. What the heck is in it? Love letters?

Condoms? My heart on a silver platter?

About the Author

Joe Cosentino is the author of the acclaimed mystery novel, Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek 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. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote a musical theatre adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals), and The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Drama Queen(Lethe Press).

No comments:

Post a Comment