Title: The Black Marble Pool
Author: Stan Leventhal
Publisher: ReQueered Tales
Release Date: August 15, 2019 (first published 1991)
Page Count: 163
Reviewed by: Kristin F,
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.
To open, this is not a romance novel. This is a mystery, with elements of gay life such as hook-ups, relationships and infidelity.
Set in Key West, the plot revolves around Walter Burgess, found dead in an empty pool and the question of who did the nefarious deed. The murder/mystery settles firmly into “cozy” category. The execution of the murder itself, implausible (thus “cozy” sub-genre) – it’s the writing that makes this story rather brilliant.
The author deftly weaves a plot of ambivalent police (why aren’t they investigating the murder?), secrets that people want to keep secrets, while questioning one’s motivations and intents. The cast of characters is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel, the setting a little bit John Hemingway, and the topics are timeless.
I’m finding writing this review a bit difficult, as I really don’t want to inadvertently drop any spoilers. There are aspects that didn’t dawn on me until I sat down to draft my review. The brilliance in this book lies in the details, the subtlety and execution, in its humanity. If you are inclined toward a mystery with gay elements and a literary emphasis, this would be a book for you.