TWILIGHT MANORS IN PALM SPRINGS, GOD’S WAITING ROOM
by St Sukie de la Croix
Rattling Good Yarns Press. 146 pages, $14.95
THE WRITER who styles himself “St Sukie de la Croix” has a long history of writing for the LGBT press and recording LGBT history. He immigrated to Chicago from England in 1991, then moved to southern California with his husband in 2014. His latest novel, Twilight Manors in Palm Springs, is an over-the-top comedy about a long-term gay male couple who have made the move to the vast retirement community that is Palm Springs, where the elderly characters all seem to be in denial about their proximity to death. The two newcomers, Brian and Stephane, exchange witty quips while taking part in physical comedy scenes reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy. When pudgy Brian tries to squeeze himself into a too-tight pair of jeans in a clothing store, the top button flies off and injures a salesman. When thin Stephane, a clueless cook, tries to make a chocolate mousse, the resulting explosion blows the door off the oven. Woven into the stream of pop culture namedropping and slapstick scenes involving earthquakes, rattlesnakes, orgies, and gun-toting homophobic rednecks is a murder mystery in which Brian and Stephane become reluctant amateur investigators. They save the day by exposing illicit heterosexual affairs among the Catholic clergy and a drug-running conspiracy in which contraband is imported from “Columbia.” Although their new community is anything but restful, Brian and Stephane become acclimatized. Like Stephane’s baking experiment, this novel contains a wide variety of explosive ingredients, handled lightly.