Murder and Gold by Ann Aptaker is a mystery set in 1954 and features Cantor Gold, star-studded butch of the Cantor Gold Series. This book will stand alone, so if you haven’t had the chance to read the rest of the series, you can start here. (I expect you’ll be buying the rest of the series once you’ve read this and realized what a gem the book is).
Cantor Gold is a butch about town with a penchant for women to share her bed but not her heart (for those of you starting here). She dresses in hand-stitched silk suits, crisp shirts, and ties and enjoys expensive scotch and the new car she has every year. She is a criminal who obtains unobtainable art and antiquities from countries both inside and outside the US for a string of wealthy clients. Cantor manages to keep one step ahead of a variety of policemen and detectives and, at the same time, dodging in and out of the reach of several crime bosses.
This episode of Cantor Gold’s life begins in her beloved New York City as she leaves her apartment to start a new day. The police have cordoned off the area in front of her apartment block as the dead body of a woman is examined. Cantor knows that the police would love to arrest her and put her away for being different, and a dead body on her doorstep could give them an excuse. She needs to keep one step ahead of them, and so begins a Cantor Gold dance through a maze between friends and enemies as she tries to find out the truth.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Oh, Cantor Gold! I love the way you deal with the world, and I’m so sorry that you don’t have someone to share your life.
Aptaker gives us a slice of life that has long since disappeared and serves it up beautifully with words and phrases that evoke times past. Her ability to paint New York in words continues to astound me as I read and re-read the descriptions soaking in those literary gems. For example, you can picture the Garment district or the inside of Oyster Charlie’s saloon as if they are scenes in a film. Mmm!
The story itself and the characters within it are cleverly worked with Aptakers deft style at the fore as she crafts a mystery that keeps you riveted to each page and draws you along turning pages to see what happens.
Cons And Heads Up
There is nothing for me.
She will make you feel the confidence of Cantor Gold, overlaying Cantor’s inner thoughts and worries that seem to slide past you as you follow her path through the story. She is ingenious in her understanding of the minds and actions of the small-minded people that are trying to catch her out. Add to that, the artistry of place and people and you have it.
I’m hoping there will be many more episodes in Cantor’s life for us to join.
Excerpt from Murder and Gold by Ann Aptaker
Taking the cigar from his mouth, he gives me a toothy, tobacco-yellowed grin a month too early for Halloween, but its effect is just as spooky. “When the call came into the precinct,” he says, his phlegmy voice gurgling through his teeth, which makes that grin even creepier, “I told the captain this one’s mine. And you know why, Gold?”
“Lemme guess. You recognized my address.”
His grin spreads wider, nastier, his eyes narrow with sour joy. “And here you are, all spiffed up on a sunny morning, a stiff at your doorstep. I suppose you’re gonna tell me you’ve got nothing to do with this and you’ve never laid eyes on this woman?”
“Listen,” I say, keeping it light and easy, burying my acquaintance with the deceased behind an I’ve got nothing to hide performance my showbiz neighbors would appreciate. “I can’t be two places at once, can I, lieutenant? I just came off the elevator, and the woman is already lying here dead.”
Huber sticks his cigar between his teeth again, keeps it clamped while he stares at me as if I’m a sewer rat he’d love to drown. After a second or two of his laughably silent bullying, he pulls the cigar from his mouth. “How do I know you didn’t knife her and then—”
“Oh, is that how she was killed?”
His hard look warns me not to give him any more back talk. “Yeah, that’s how she was killed,” he says. “My gut says you did it, Gold; then you went back upstairs to wash the blood off and change your bloody clothes for another of your snappy suits.” He says this like he wants to arrest me just for dressing better than he does. “And when you heard the sirens you came back down and ambled through your lobby innocent as Sunday.”
“Except today is Tuesday,” I say, “and your story assumes I’m stupid enough to kill someone on my own doorstep and leave her here. You hate my guts, Huber. You’ve called me everything from sewer filth to perverted scum, but you’ve never called me stupid.”
He’s been grinding his teeth all the time I’ve been talking, and now that I’ve stopped, he spits out his other accusation. “And I suppose you don’t know who the dame is?”
“And I suppose you do?” It’s easier on my guilty soul to throw his question back at him than admit I’m a cad who never even asked her name.
“Her name’s Lorraine Quinn, age thirty, according to the driver’s license we found in her handbag. With an address on the bleaker end of Bleecker Street.”
I know more about her now than I did when I’d buried my face in her lush chestnut hair and held her body against mine while we danced at the Green Door Club. I still didn’t know any of it while I luxuriated in her breasts when she was in my bed. I feel pretty crummy that she had to die for me to find all that out. But feeling crummy could show up in my eyes, come across as the wrong kind of guilt, give Huber the wrong idea. So I squelch it.
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Cantor Gold Crime series
Murder and Gold
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781612942056
Publisher: Bywater Books
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