Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing a historical film at a castle in Scotland, co-starring his spouse, theatre professor Noah Oliver, and their son Taavi. When historical accuracy disappears along with hunky men in kilts, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is pitching residents of Conall Castle off the drawbridge and into the moat, before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining seventh novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The curtain is going up on steep cliffs, ancient turrets, stormy seas, misty moors, malfunctioning kilts, and murder!
Excerpt of Drama Castle, the seventh Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino
Ainsley Conall, the thirty-five-year-old lord of the manor, stood on the grassy moor surveying his property. He watched the mist spread to the nearby golden cliff, emerald mountains, and white-capped turquoise sea. His tunic, kilt, hose, and shoulder cloak matched the tall, strapping man’s long auburn hair and striking emerald eyes. The leather sporran hanging from a chain over the impressive lump at his groin proudly bore the Conall family crest—three lions. As he rested his size-ten leather brogue on a rock, Ainsley proudly gazed out at the ancient lighthouse, old abbey, and most importantly Conall Castle standing majestically in the distance. This was his heritage, his pride, and his joy.
An eastern wind blew the kilt up his back, exposing his melon-like bubble butt.
“Cut! We’ll save that for the blooper reel.”
I always wanted to say that. But I didn’t think I’d be uttering those words on a mountaintop at the northernmost tip of Scotland. I’m Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College, a private college plagued by murder in scenic Vermont. How did I get to Scotland, the land of men in kilts? After directing a play at Treemeadow College that moved to Broadway, I helmed a slasher film, which to nobody’s surprise was ignored by the Academy Award voters. However, Barclay Conell, the owner of Conell Castle and Hotel in Scotland, caught it while scrolling through one-star instant-play movies on his computer. It wasn’t so much that Barclay was impressed with my artistry. The film’s low budget and one-week production schedule caught the green in his eyes. You see Barclay was also the author of The Lord of the Castle, a five-hundred-and-thirty-eight-page novel that could turn an insomniac into Rip Van Winkle. Propelled by his novel’s high local sales, Barclay decided a film adaptation was in order—even when a local fisherman confessed he had bought up all the novels as gifts for unsuspecting fishermen in hopes of sinking the competition’s ships. When Barclay’s emails to Z-list celebrities went unanswered, undaunted in his cinematic pursuit, Barclay decided to star in the film version himself—playing his 1745 ancestor, Ainsley Conall. His wife, Moira (an unemployed actress currently working as his desk clerk), finally got an acting gig as Ainsley’s devoted wife. For reality sake, and to keep peace in the family, Barclay’s middle brother, Magnus (the hotel’s accountant), was cast as Ainsley’s middle brother and pal, Archibald. Finally, Barclay’s youngest brother, Fergus (the hotel’s restaurant manager), didn’t have much of a stretch to play Ainsley’s youngest brother and little buddy, Angus. And to keep the budget anemic, Lairie Naughton, the fourteen-year-old daughter of the hotel’s head of Housekeeping, was slated for the role of the devoted young maid, Aggie.
Barclay took no reservations at the hotel for a week in June and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a four-figure salary, a film budget as thin as a vegan with a malfunctioning juicer, and a one-week shooting schedule. How could I say no? So, I continued the casting by adding my ten-year-old adopted son from Hawaii, Taavi, as Ainsley’s adored son, Roddy. Before a divorce was threatened, I hired my husband of four years, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow College, Noah Oliver, to play
Roddy’s noble tutor, Oliver, and to serve as the film’s acting coach. I decided to cast the smaller roles once we got to the castle.
There was the small, or not so small, matter of the film adaptation. Barclay’s attempt was as ponderous and heavy (pun intended) as his novel. So, my best friend and department head, Professor of Theatre Management Martin Anderson, wrote the screenplay, or as Ruben Markinson, Martin’s husband and our producer, said, “the foul-play.” With the excitement of a conservative politician nixing environmental laws, Martin went to work loading the script with scandal, seduction, and assassination. Try saying that three times fast. His new title: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt, You Need a Scotch.
Noah and I made our way up the gigantic poplar wood staircase. After standing all day and evening, the thick burgundy carpet on the steps was a welcome cushion to my tired feet. Noah admired the intricate molding of lions in various positions on the staircase, walls, and pewter chandelier above us. “Nicky, the castle must be much more crowded when open for business.”
“I prefer having it to ourselves.” I pinched his firm bottom and he giggled.
On the second floor, Noah and I headed down the long corridor and knocked on Mom and Dad’s door. Dad opened it, wearing a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts.
“Dad, we’re in Scotland, not the Caribbean,” Noah said.
“A vacation’s a vacation.” Dad welcomed us into his room. “This is some place, huh?” He gestured to the large canopy bed. “And look at that!” Poking my arm, he added, “You planning on giving it to Noah in the caboose tonight?”
Noah turned scarlet.
Dad laughed uproariously. “How are my two boys?”
“Tired.” I sat on an ornate bench.
“Stay and watch TV with me.” Dad opened a giant oak wardrobe revealing a flat screen television.
Did they have those in the eighteenth century?
He sat next to me and ran a hand over his bald head. “Braveheart is on tonight.”
Noah sat on a wide oak chair opposite us. “Dad, you’re in Scotland. Why not do some sightseeing?”
“No sights can beat the locations in Braveheart,” Dad said.
The door opened, and an iPhone covered my face. “What a cute picture of you two boys. Do you like my new iPhone?” Mom texted and then smiled proudly. “Judy from Wisconsin says her son and son-in-law, Tommy and Timmy, have never been to Scotland.”
Dad laughed. “Lucky for Jack. He’d have gotten stuck with the bill.”
“How are my boys?” Mom kissed every inch of our faces.
I wiped Mom’s tangerine lipstick off with a handkerchief. “How are Tommy and Timmy?”
“They’re worried about their little adopted daughter from Vietnam. Poor Dung gets
under everyone’s feet, and Judy and her husband Jack keep stepping on Dung!” Mom sat on the canopy bed and adjusted the tie of her tangerine robe. “I think Tommy and Timmy are spreading Dung too thin with baby classes in sign language, swimming, and art.”
“All paid for by Grandpa Jack,” Dad added.
Mom patted her dyed blonde hair into place. “Dung is a sweet child, but no kid is as gifted and talented as our grandson.”
“Amen,” Dad said while readying the television remote control.
“Speaking of Taavi.” Noah looked around the room. “Where is he?”
Wearing a canary polo shirt that highlighted his olive-colored skin and black hair, Taavi looked adorable with his legs dangling off the high bed. “Grandma and I explored the castle.” His dimples appeared. “I found a secret passageway.”
“A sleuth, like your dads,” Dad said.
“And like your grandfather,” Mom added.
Taavi wiped his palms on his sky-blue shorts. “I can’t wait to shoot my scenes.”
Noah smiled. “Will you steal them from me?”
“That’s the plan.” Taavi offered his father a hang loose sign and a huge grin.
Mom said, “Judy was very impressed with our little Taavi’s acting in that slasher film you all did last year.”
“As she should be,” Dad said as if he were Taavi’s agent.
“Judy said that little Dung’s chocolate coloring would show up well on film.”
“Too bad Tommy and Timmy aren’t in the movie business like our Nicky and Noah,” Dad said.
Mom and Dad laughed together triumphantly.
I noticed a gold necklace around Dad’s neck as it danced over his flabby chest. “I’ve never seen that before, Dad.”
He stuck out his already protruding stomach. “What, my sexy physique?” Dad winked at Noah. “I may be giving you a run for your money tonight, Noah.”
Noah’s scarlet cheeks turned crimson.
I walked over to Dad. “I mean your necklace.”
“He’s worn that thing around his neck since I met him,” Mom said.
Taking it in my hand, I admired the fine craftsmanship of the gold two-leaf clover.
“It’s really a four-leaf clover,” Dad explained, “but the other two leaves broke off.”
“Where did you get it?”
“In a little shop on a glen in a valley in the highlands of Scotland. A year before I met Mom, I visited the land of my ancestors to find my roots.”
“While I was covering up mine with peroxide,” Mom said with a smile.
“But my ancestors didn’t come from a place like this.” Dad explained, “They were sheepherders.” The dairy farmer added, “Milking is in my blood.”
“So is high cholesterol from all the cheese he eats,” Mom said as if speaking about a death row criminal.
Dad patted his stomach. “I like food.”
“Me too, Grandpa.” Taavi patted his stomach too.
“Did you all eat dinner?” Noah asked with concern showing on his handsome face.
Mom nodded. “A sweet young waiter named Donal served us in the dining room.” She giggled like a young girl. “He paid extra attention to me.”
“Were you jealous?” I asked Dad.
He waved me away like a color guard on speed. “Donal was a nice-looking guy. But he reminded me of you and Noah, if you know what I mean.”
My father-in-law developed gaydar?
Taavi’s dark eyes glistened in delight. “We ate cock-a-doodle-doo soup, blood pudding, green fish, and bread for short people.”
As if a United Nations translator, Mom said, “Taavi means cock-a-leekie soup—”
Okay, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s a soup with chicken, bacon, leeks, and spices.
Mom continued, “—black pudding—”
Get ready to be grossed out. It’s pork fat, pork blood, oatmeal, and oat and barley groats.
“—scallops with cabbage and green apple sauce, and shortbread.”
“I texted all my friends from school. I can’t believe we’re livin
Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:
“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven’t discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
“For fans of Joe Cosentino’s hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“This delightfully sudsy, colorful cast of characters would rival that of any daytime soap opera, and the character exchanges are rife with sass, wit and cagey sarcasm….As the pages turn quickly, the author keeps us hanging until the startling end.” Edge Media Network
“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers
“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn’t laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books
“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
About the Author
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland with Holiday Tales from Fairyland, the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose 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. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and he is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.
Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Paperback: 215 pages