WHY I WROTE THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES
Book Two: Drama Muscle, published by Lethe Press
by Joe Cosentino
Don’t you love bodybuilders? Who doesn’t? I have always been fascinated with them. The concept of eating protein every two hours, lifting weights for three hours a day, shaving every body part, spray tanning, and posing in tiny gold trunks is amazing to me. Not to mention the amazing muscles. What dedication! After watching a bodybuilding competition on television (guilty as charged), I noticed the link between bodybuilding and theatre. So I realized the second Nicky and Noah mystery would take place in the Bodybuilding Department at Treemeadow College.
If you haven’t read Drama Queen (and you should!), the Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. It is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza (the amateur sleuth whose heart is as big as his manhood) and Assistant Professor of Acting gorgeous Noah Oliver. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them.
For most of my life I’ve read cozy mystery novels. Though full of murder and mayhem, they always made me smile, challenged my brain, and relaxed me. What could be better than a brain-teasing puzzle taking place in a comfortable environment with lots of gay people? Like an Agatha Christie novel, the mystery is the central focus with red herrings and inversions leading to a satisfying conclusion. As in an Armistead Maupin novel, the characters are wacky, surprising, and endearing.
In the first novel, it is winter, so white snow, cherry wood mantels surrounding blazing fireplaces, and hot chocolate are in abundance. In the second book, it is fall, so gorgeous leaves of amber, violet, and scarlet blanket the campus. The third book (Drama Cruise not yet published) takes us on cruise to Alaska for sights of glaciers and whales while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In each book Nicky and Noah eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.
Reviewers called Drama Queen “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” “a captivating whodunit,” and “the funniest book of the year.” Who am I to argue? In Drama Queen college theatre professors were dropping like stage curtains and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah had to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. When the ebook reached #18 on the Amazon bestsellers list in its category and the paperback and audiobook (with all twenty-four roles played by Michael Gilboe) sold like tickets to Phantom of the Opera after the Tony Awards, it was time for another Nicky and Noah mystery.
In the current novel, Drama Muscle, Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out who is murdering musclemen in the Physical Education Department. Since I work out every day (yet see very little results!) and am enamored of the real bodybuilders who are so big they don’t even need to iron their shirts, Drama Muscle holds a special place in my heart. In the novel Nicky is directing bodybuilding students in Treemeadow College’s annual Bodybuilding competition on campus. Bodybuilding students and faculty drop faster than barbells until Nicky figures out the identity of the murderer, as well as Noah’s secret revolving around Van Granite, one of the bodybuilding professors. Noah’s hysterically funny parents visit from Wisconsin and are drawn into the action, and Nicky and Noah reach a milestone by the end of the novel.
As a college professor/department head, I have always been aware that colleges are rife with mystery, romance, and humor. It is my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So take your front row seat. The curtain is going up on young bodybuilders at Treemeadow College. Lights (and weights) up! And let me know what you think at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com!
It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!
An excerpt from Drama Muscle
Noah opened his mouth to say something, but Rodney Towers interrupted. “Professor, I was thinking about what Professor Abbondanza mentioned.”
Noah sighed. “Which of the numerous things said by Professor Abbondanza are you referring to, Rodney?”
“The thing about Zeus and Ganymede getting it on.” Rodney looked as if someone had held his nose and poured vinegar into his mouth.
Noah tried to speak again, and Maria Ruiz (our Athena) interrupted. “Homophobe anyone?” Maria stood nose to nose with Rodney. “What’s wrong with you, Rodney?” She pointed to the twins at the other end of the line. “Tim and Kim are playing Hercules and Adonis. Everyone knows they were a couple. You don’t hear them complaining.”
“Um now that you like mention it, Kim would rather, you know, play another part,” said Tim.
“Um so would Tim,” added Kim.
Posed with their hands on their hips, the twins looked like an advertisement for The King and I in double vision.
Let me explain. Kim and Tim Sim (Try saying that three times fast), as identical twins, can read each other’s minds. I could never read my brother’s mind when we were kids. That’s why I had to read his diary, listen in on his phone conversations, and bug his book bag.
The muscles on Rodney’s massive back curled as if snarling. “Let me make myself clear, Maria. I’m not happy playing Zeus, because I don’t want any part of an unnatural lifestyle.”
Maria shot him dagger eyes. “And pumping iron three hours a day and spray-painting our bodies is natural?”
“Maria knows all about being natural. Don’t you, Maria?” said compact Jonathan Toner (Achilles) with a smirk on his pimply face.
“Shut up, Jonathan,” replied Maria as if swatting a pesky fly.
Rodney said to his workout partner, “Maria, don’t rag on me because I believe in the Bible.”
“Then you better get to work in the fields, ’cause you’re a slave, honey,” Maria answered with a wave of her muscular arm and snap of her strong fingers.
“Kiss my muscular black ass.”
“Kiss my muscular Latina ass.”
Noah said, like a referee at an A.D.D. Little League game, “Okay, let’s talk about your character, Maria. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice. As you think about your poses—”
“Try to incorporate those feelings into your performance,” I said.
“Right,” Noah added with narrowed eyes in my direction.
I mimed buttoning my lips and rested my back against the wall.
Noah continued, “And Jonathan, Achilles was shot in the heel, the only weak part of his body.”
“Hence the term ‘Achilles heel,’” I added, then placed my hand over my big mouth.
Jonathan flexed his small, high-peaked biceps. “There’s no part of me that’s weak.”
“Except your brain,” said Maria.
Waving his stubby finger under her square jaw, Jonathan said, “Careful, Maria. You don’t want to piss me off.”
Like a substitute teacher on the last day of school, Noah tried to keep control. Noticing Mack Heath (Ganymede) standing quietly, Noah said, “Let’s talk about Mack’s character.”
Middle weight, fair, perfectly proportioned, and amazingly cut, Mack said, “Didn’t Ganymede represent youth and beauty?”
“Correct!” I said then covered my mouth with both hands.
Jillian Flowers (our Aphrodite), a raving blonde beauty, gazed at Mack with lust in her violet eyes. “You um totally are like Ganymede, Mack.”
Mack’s cheeks grew flushed. “Thanks.”
“For what?” Jillian asked.
“You just said I’m like Ganymede.”
Jillian said, “Um isn’t that like who you are, you know, playing?”
Poor Jillian. Last year, while working out, a barbell accidentally fell on Jillian’s head, leaving her with poor short-term memory.
“Let’s talk about your character, Jillian,” said Noah, clearly hoping to get things back on track. “Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty—”
“And love,” I added, then hid my face underneath my blazer.
Jillian batted her long lashes at Mack, then rested her strong hand on his mountainous shoulder. “Did um Aphrodite and Ganymede ever like, you know, hook up?”
“No, they didn’t, Jillian.” Mack slid his shoulder out of her clutches.
“Who didn’t what?” asked Jillian in confusion.
“Aphrodite and Ganymede were never a couple,” Mack explained, then walked away.
Jillian responded, “Who said they were?”
“Tim is like getting, you know, bored,” said Kim.
“Kim um wants to like get back to, you know, rehearsing,” added Tim.
Having lost his patience, Jonathan walked past each of his classmates with a smirk on his pockmarked face, like a carnival sharpshooter wiping out a row of rubber duckies. “Jillian, Mack isn’t into you. Mack isn’t into anybody, except Mack. Tim and Kim, you don’t need this competition. Stay home and wait for Daddy Big Bucks Sim to kick the chop suey. Maria, you don’t want to tick me off, and you know why. Rodney, join the twentieth century.”
About the Author
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star Press), Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press) and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). 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 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 Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com