Devil’s Chew Toy: A Novel
A Hayden & Friends Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Washigton State
Crooked Lane Books (February 8, 2022)
Hardcover : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1643859439
ISBN-13 : 978-1643859439
Kindle ASIN : B094GP6P7M
Perfect for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Armistead Maupin, this light, LGBT mystery follows an unlucky in love—and life—teacher who unwittingly ends up the prime suspect in a disappearance.
Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes sporting one hell of a shiner, with the police knocking at his door. It seems that his new crush, dancer Camilo Rodriguez, has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What happened the night before? And where is Camilo?
Determined to find answers, pint-sized, good-hearted Hayden seeks out two of Camilo’s friends—Hollister and Burley—both lesbians and both fiercely devoted to their friend. From them, Hayden learns that Camilo is a “Dreamer” whose parents had been deported years earlier, and whose sister, Daniela, is presumed to have returned to Venezuela with them. Convinced that the cops won’t take a brown boy’s disappearance seriously, the girls join Hayden’s hunt for Camilo.
The first clues turn up at Barkingham Palace, a pet store where Camilo had taken a part-time job. The store’s owner, Della Rupert, claims ignorance, but Hayden knows something is up. And then there’s Camilo’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who’s suddenly grown inexplicably wealthy. When Hayden and Hollister follow Ryan to a secure airport warehouse, they make a shocking connection between him and Della—and uncover the twisted scheme that’s made both of them rich.
The trail of clues leads them to the grounds of a magnificent estate on an island in Puget Sound, where they’ll finally learn the truth about Camilo’s disappearance—and the fate of his family.
A night out for Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall nets him a black eye and a date with a hot dancer. The next morning Camilo, the dancer, is gone when Hayden wakes up. Soon the police are knocking on the door saying Camilo’s truck was found running and empty. Camilo is missing and foul play is suspected. So, unsure what to do and worried about Camilo, Hayden takes temporary custody of Camilo’s bull terrier, Commander, and tries to find out what happened to his new “friend”. He connects with Hollister and Burley, two of Camilo’s friends, who are shocked to find out he is missing. They dive into Camilo’s life but it seems even his best friends are not sure what he has been getting himself involved in. They know his ex-boyfriend Ryan knows more than he is saying but never imagined where their little investigation would lead or how much danger they getting themselves in. Can they find Camilo and live to tell the tale? Only time will tell.
Mr. Osler has created some unique characters for his “Quozy” mystery. Hayden is 5’4″ “rounding up” weighing in at 125 “again rounding up” freckled with “a shock of red-orange hair”. Camilo is about 5 feet tall and “superhot and genuinely nice” according to Hayden. Hollister is a tall, curvy, broad-shouldered African American woman, and sports a 6-inch mohawk. She has a take-charge attitude and knows how to use it. She also drives a Porche. Her girlfriend Mysti is a petite Korean American with perfectly applied make-up and long hair with Auburn highlights. According to Hayden “they went together like a tiara and sweatpants”. Burley fits her name, She is six and a half feet tall and weighs in at 300 pounds. She wears her hair in waist-length gray pigtails. Hayden also has a crazy neighbor that is always up in his business. A real eclectic group that all develop nicely throughout the book. They come across as genuine and true to life.
The quest to find Camilo was a bit absurd but so much fun to read. Hayden and Hollister get themselves into some bizarre situations. Some had me laughing out loud. Others had me fearing for their safety. Sometimes I had both experiences on the same page, even in one paragraph.
The author does weave some hot-topic themes, immigration, deportation, and bullying into the text in interesting ways. The underlying crime was totally unexpected and I am not sure how they were even able to pull off what they were doing but I was fully engaged to see them brought down.
The author has coined the term “Quozy Mystery” as a subgenre of mystery blending LGBTQ+ with cozy mystery and he has done that very well in Devil’s Chew Toy. I was captivated by his characters and the situations they were involved in. I love that Hayden shared his thoughts on his blog MATES ON DATES with good messages and a little humor. The chapter titles were clever too.
Mr. Osler has found the perfect balance between humor and mystery. This book was entertaining, over the top in places, and absolutely delightful from beginning to end. I am crazy about this diverse set of characters. When I started reading this book I thought it was a stand-alone novel. I am so happy to learn it is the 1st book in a series because these are characters I want to visit again and again. If you enjoy a mystery filled with humor Devil’s Chew Toy is the book for you!
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About the Author
Rob Osler writes the Hayden & Friends contemporary mystery series featuring a rainbow of kick-ass characters. With Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob coined the term, “Quozy Mystery,” firmly establishing a new sub-sub-genre of mystery. Rob is proud to have created the literary love child of LGBTQ+ fiction and cozy mystery.
His short story “Analogue,” published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, won the 2022 ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD for best short story by a debut author as part of the Annual Edgar Awards presented by Mystery Writers of America.
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Rob attended college at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Years later, he earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Washington. Rob was a copywriter and brand strategist before turning to fiction writing. After many years of living in Chicago, Seattle (the setting for the Hayden & Friends series), and San Francisco (where he still spends time), Rob resides in southern California with his long-time partner and a tall, gray cat.
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