The Black Marble Pool (ParisDude’s Review)

Title: The Black Marble Pool
Author: Stan Leventhal
Publisher: ReQueered Tales
Release Date: August 15, 2019
Genre(s): Murder mystery
Page Count: 163
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


When you first notice it, something seems a bit unusual. Then it occurs to you that most, if not all, of the pools you’ve ever seen before were painted blue or white. The Captain’s House pool is black. Not painted black. But constructed of black marble and black tile. The marble has streaks of white that look like lightning bolts in a black sky. There is a sexiness to this pool; a personality. It looks and feels like a warm, wet blanket, surrounding and protecting you like a dark, quiet womb.

There’s a dead body at the bottom of a pool in the backyard of a guest house in Key West. Who is he? And what caused his untimely demise? Maybe it’s suicide. Or an accident. But more likely—murder! And who’s responsible? One of the guests, the people who run the guest house or one of those mysterious women in town?

A Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in 1991, this edition includes a new 2019 foreword by renowned LGBTQ publicist and friend of Stan Leventhal, Michele Karlsberg.

What a refreshing read! Maybe not the best book ever written, maybe not the most breath-taking murder mystery, but nice and fun, perfect for your holidays, while you’re lounging on a nice beach or near a swimming pool (preferably made of black marble, it goes without saying) with scarcely clad hunks around you and a cold drink in your hand. Not my case, currently—do I have to add “alas”? Sigh.

Anyway. We follow the amateur sleuth investigations of an unnamed first-person narrator, a journalist writing music reviews and critics, who’s been asked by his NY-based newspaper to stand in for one of their travel journalists, fly down to Key West, and write a paper about the place. The book starts with our MC starting his first morning by… discovering a dead man in the empty black marble swimming pool of the B&B he’s staying in. The police rule it to be a suicide and leave it at that. But our MC is intrigued. Why would the swimming pool have been emptied the previous night? Why does nobody seem to have noticed? Who among his fellow vacationers has a reason to kill Walter Burgess, the victim, owner of a couple of gay clubs and bars in the NY area? How is the young hustler Skip linked to Burgess? Who are the two women the MC overhears discussing a certain Walter he’s certain must be the victim?

I like holiday murder mysteries, and this is certainly one of them. Light and funny, with some kinky twists (not too kinky, mind you), closeted police officers, opaque possible murderers, a falsely gay murder victim, sun, palm-trees, almost romantic dinners, mistaken come-ons, dancing in nightclubs… The MC does everything a single gay man would like to do in any given summer resort all over the world (well, we learn that he’s not single at all, but hey, his lover Paul is far away in New York, and a thirty-something young man who doesn’t believe in monogamy has those urges, see?). And the death of Burgess as well as the police’s inaction puzzle him enough to make him pursue his own, private investigation, which turns out more dangerous than he would have bargained…

What is almost funny is how clueless the MC seems to be. Of course, he asks the appropriate questions, comes to well-thought-out conclusions, follows the right clues, and has the right reactions. Most of the time, that is. There’s a moment he spends in paranoid panic, closed off in his room in the B&B. But other scenes are rather hilarious (for instance when he searches a room together with the closeted local police officer, and the occupant of the room comes back with a hook-up, forcing the two to hide in a wardrobe and wait until the two unknowing guys have finished shagging). I was rather fond of my MC without name: not very handsome, not very successful in life, not very happy in his relationship, not very successful with his hook-ups, the average dude who’s too nosy for his own good. The ending is almost unexpected (for everyone, including the MC), and the culprit turns out to be someone you’d maybe not suspect… well, almost, as there aren’t many characters in this book, so of course any reader of murder mysteries ends up at some point suspecting that person as well. Yep, another good and satisfying read ReQueered Tales has had the excellent idea of republishing.

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Galley copy of The Black Marble Pool provided by the editor in exchange of an honest review.


Dieter, born and raised in Austria, studied Political Sciences in Vienna in the early 90s. He's living in Paris, France, with his boyfriend and working as a graphic designer. In his spare time, he loves to write, read, cook, take photos, and travel as often as possible. He’s already published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. His first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on Jan. 6, 2019, and is available in English, French, and soon German. Dieter is also writing reviews for Gay Book Reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude.
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