The Player’s Encore by Joe Cosentino – Q&A and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino who is celebrating yesterday’s release of The Player’s Encore, the second book in his Player Piano Mysteries series. Post a comment on what you love about player pianos, gay romance, Key West, Tuscany, or whodunits. The one that tickles our ivories the most will win a complimentary e-book of The Player, Player Piano Mysteries Book 1, by Joe Cosentino.

Joe, congratulations on the release of The Player’s Encore, a new MM mystery/romance/fantasy novel.

I’m ready for my encore. (smile)

For anyone who hasn’t read The Player—and they should!—recap the first novel in The Player Piano Mysteries series for us.

I decided to blend my love of the Art Deco period with my passion for the contemporary cozy mystery—with a gay slant—and out came The Player. It is the story of Andre Beaufort, a grade school music teacher living in Hoboken, New Jersey, who having found a player piano in the basement, brought back to life the spirit of dapper Roaring Twenties playboy Freddy Birtwistle—the original owner of the house. The two men got off to a rocky start, but they eventually fell madly in love and solved two murder mysteries—in Freddy’s old city house and country house.

Why did you have Freddy come from the Roaring Twenties period?

I’ve always loved the Roaring Twenties period: the pinstriped suits and beaded dresses, Art Deco houses and furnishings, catchy tunes from Gershwin and Porter, wealthy bon vivant personalities, the Charleston, catchy expressions like “the bee’s knees,” and of course the player piano.

Why did you decide to write a second book in The Player series?

I worried that readers might not like The Player as much as they adored my popular Nicky and Noah mystery series. To my elation, readers loved The Player, and they begged me for another Player novel. Since I love the beach (hence my Cozzi Cove series) and Italy (as noted in my A Home for the Holidays Bobby and Paolo Holiday Story 1), I decided that Andre and Freddy would next solve murder mysteries in Freddy’s old house in Key West and at his family’s past villa in Tuscany.

What happens in book 2?

As in book 1, readers get two stories for the price of one! In part I of The Player’s Encore: The Beach House, Freddy yearns to visit his family’s beach house in Florida. So, Andre and Freddy embark on a vacation to the stunning home which has become a bed and breakfast. Before Freddy can say “zotched,” a young, mysterious houseboy is murdered, the second hunky houseboy to meet the same fate. As it turns out, the suspects are all related to the latest victim: his desk clerk boyfriend, his incredibly handsome cousin who happens to be a doctor, and his feuding parents. Also in the mix are the accountant with slippery books, a studly new houseboy who can’t keep his feather duster in his pants, and a little girl with a secret that changes Andre and Freddy’s lives. Since the detective obsessed with the case has come up with an empty seashell, it’s once again up to lovers Andre and Freddy to find the murderer and save the inn—and themselves!

In part II: The Villa, Andre and Freddy venture off on a vacation with Andre’s uncle, an ex-priest, to Tuscany, where they stay at an inn that happens to have once been Freddy’s old family villa. Before the sun sets golden on the hills, a young, handsome, wealthy guest is murdered. The suspects are the victim’s distant father who is his competitor in business, a sexy Italian guide with a secret, two hunky gay travelers connected via a travel app, and a straight married couple who appear ready to embark on new sexual conquests. At the same time, Freddy finds his deceased sister’s diary and makes a surprising discovery that changes his life. When the muscular Italian detective investigating the murder seems lost in his spaghetti, it’s yet again up to lovers Andre and Freddy to solve the mystery and save the day!

What’s special about the novel?

The two mysteries include lots of sexy characters, cozy settings, humor, surprising plot twists and turns, fun red herrings, a touch of drama, a shocking yet justifiable ending, and of course lots of sweet romance.

Why a player piano?

While walking through an antique shop upstate New York, I came across an old player piano. It was handcrafted from maple, mahogany, and spruce with an elaborate leaf pattern molding. In the center section stood the roll of pre-programmed music on perforated paper: George Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” from 1926. While listening to the song, I couldn’t help imagining who might have owned the Pianola. Since player pianos were popular with the wealthy in the Roaring Twenties, I imagined the owner, like the piano, was a player and a socialite from a family who made their fortune in the railroad industry. I named him Freddy Birtwistle.

Tell us more about the dazzling and captivating Freddy.

Freddy is tall and lean with slicked-back jet-black hair, violet eyes, high cheekbones, a thin nose, and rosy cheeks. True to his time period, he is meticulously dressed in a pinstriped black suit and vest, white silk shirt, and gray suspenders with matching bowtie and silk pocket handkerchief. His shoes are shiny black patent leather with white spats. Even more interesting than Freddy’s looks and wardrobe are his alluring and joyous bon vivant personality. Since Freddy socialized with the rich and famous of his time, he has numerous entertaining stories to tell about the elite of his time. Oh, and Freddy is a ghost, having been shot at thirty years old by a misinformed jealous husband.

Is book 2 told through Andre’s perspective as was the case with book 1?

Yes, now twenty-seven, Andre Beaufort is tall and thin with a cut body, amber eyes, dark hair, milk chocolate complexion, and a bubble butt. Andre and Freddy are happily in love. They are a ghostly Holmes and mortal Watson.

Who are the supporting characters in The Player’s Encore?

In Part I at the Key West beach bed and breakfast, we meet hunky houseboys Christian Hart and Nico DeFina, Christian’s parents and his gorgeous cousin Dr. Spencer Hart, Christian’s boyfriend beefy desk clerk Yusef Raji, oily inn manager Troy Grey, and his young daughter Ana Grey. When Christian is murdered, Butch Detective Ken Evans solicits Andre’s help who asks for Freddy’s assistance in catching the murderer.

And in the second story?

In part II in the Tuscan Villa, we meet Andre’s hunky Uncle Darryl right out of the priesthood, the inn’s beefy owner Bartolo Lotto, cute travelling roommates Rai Ming and Felix Gutierrez, young A-lister Colin Maverick and his gray fox father CEO of Maverick Enterprises Julian Maverick, and a straight married couple ready to expand their horizons. Sexy Detective Francesco Ferrari seems more interested in Uncle Darryl and Bartolo Lotto than solving the murder mystery. So, it’s Freddy and Andre to the rescue.

How are the stories cozy?

They take place in a quaint bed and breakfast on the beach and in a gorgeous Tuscan villa overlooking olive orchards, vineyards, lemon trees, and rolling hills kissed by the sun.

Why do you think there aren’t many other gay cozy mystery series out there?

MM doesn’t have to mean only erotica, dark thrillers, or young adult novels. While that’s fine, I think we’re missing a whole spectrum of fiction. In the case of the Nicky and Noah mysteries and now The Player series, my books include romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and quaint and loveable characters in uncanny situations. The settings are warm and cozy. The clues and red herrings are there for the perfect page-turning whodunits.

Many of your characters in The Player and The Player’s Encore are of various ethnicities and sexual identities. Is that deliberate on your part?

Sure. We live in a diverse world. Literature should reflect that.

I’m sure you’ve been told that the books would make a terrific TV series. How would you cast a TV version?

Here’s my wish list to for the regular cast: Matt Bomer as Freddy, Blake Young Fountain as Andre, Wanda Sykes as Freddy’s Aunt Nia, and now Wilson Cruz as Freddy’s Uncle Darryl. Come on, TV producers, make me an offer!

How can your readers get their hands on The Player’s Encore?

The purchase links are below.

Thank you, Joe, for interviewing today.

My pleasure. I hope everyone will give The Player’s Encore a play. I’m sure, like Andre and me, you will fall in love with Freddy and have a great deal of fun trying to solve the mysteries. And I love to hear from readers. So drop me a line at my website.

Can a man and a ghost be soulmates? When young music teacher Andre Beaufort unleashed the ghost of dapper Roaring Twenties playboy Freddy Birtwistle from his antique player piano, he never imagined they would fall in love and solve two murder mysteries. Now Freddy yearns to visit his family’s beach house in Florida. So, Andre and Freddy embark on a vacation to the stunning home which has become a bed and breakfast. Before Freddy can say “zotched,” a young, mysterious houseboy is murdered, the second hunky houseboy to meet the same fate. Will Andre and Freddy find the murderer to save the inn—and themselves?

A year later, Andre and Freddy venture off on a vacation with Andre’s uncle, an ex-priest, to Tuscany, staying at an inn which happens to have once been Freddy’s old family villa. Before the sun sets golden on the hills, a handsome young guest is murdered. Will Andre and Freddy uncover the secrets of Freddy’s ancestral home, solve the mystery, and find eternal love?
The Player’s Encore, the second installment in the popular Player Piano Mysteries series by Joe Cosentino, includes two cozy mysteries: The Beach House and The Villa.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Bag in hand, I made my way inside the house and down a long white marble hallway. A muscular, young man with olive skin and jet-black hair and eyes stood behind the counter. Offering me a white smile, he said, “Welcome to Apollo Branchus.”

I stood opposite the counter, dropping my bag at my side. “Thank you. I’m Andre Beaufort.”

“I’m Yusef Raji. We spoke on the phone.”

“I remember.”

He glanced at his computer screen. “You are registered for room five.”

“The player piano room.”
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“You saw our photos online?”

I nodded. “And Ava confirmed it for me on the front porch.”

He rubbed his wide nose. “Ava is a bit precocious. She’s our manager’s daughter.”

“She told me.” I explained, “I’m a grade school teacher. I like talking to kids.”

“What do you teach?”

“Music.” I grinned. “Not math, which was good news for Ava.”

A tall man who appeared to be in his thirties with receding mousy brown hair entered the counter area from a closed door marked “Manager.” “I’m Troy Grey, the manager. I apologize if my daughter bothered you.”

I replied, “It was no bother at all. I enjoyed speaking with Ava. She welcomed me to the inn. Ava seems like a bright little girl.”

Troy offered me a wan smile. “Yes.”

“Mr. Beaufort is registered in room five,” Yusef said.

Troy’s small brown eyes focused on me. “Welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay.” As he exited through the same door, I wondered why Ava’s father wore a violet silk shirt and designer black slacks and she dressed like an urchin.

“Yusef, aren’t you going to introduce me to the new guest?”

I spun around to face a short, very muscular young man with smooth olive skin, curly chestnut hair, and a Roman nose.

Yusef waved toward him. “Andre Beaufort, this is Nico DeFina, our houseboy.”

“Every house needs a boy.” Clad in a skintight cranberry T-shirt and white shorts, Nico aimed his wide pecs and massive bulge in my direction. “Welcome to the bed and breakfast, Andre.”

“Thank you.”

He licked his full lips like a blood hound spotting a rib roast. “I’ll do my best to make you…comfortable.”

Yusef cleared his throat. “I need to check him in.”

Nico’s sapphire eyes focused back on Yusef. “All right. I’ll check in with you later.” Nico winked at me. “Let me know if you need any checking out after checking in.” He disappeared.

I asked Yusef, “Is he always that friendly?”

“You got away easy. He asked the last guest checking in if he wanted a slab of beef between his buns.”

We shared a laugh.

Yusef glanced back at his computer. “Now, I have your deposit to reserve the room. May I scan your credit card to cover additional expenses?”

I handed him my card. As he scanned it, I asked, “Does the owner live on the premises?”

Yusef shook his head. “But Troy is in regular contact with him.”

“How long have you worked here?”

“Eight years.”

“How about Troy?”


“Did Ava’s mother work here too…before she passed away?”

“Arabella was the cook.” He grinned. “She was full of life and laughter…until she became ill three years ago. Troy was understandably devastated.”

I nodded. “Life is so fleeting.”

“One of the reasons to take vacations.”

I agreed. “Especially in places as beautiful as this one.”

“Then let’s get you started.” He handed me a key. “This will unlock your room and the front door, which we lock at midnight. The beach outside is private for our guests only. There are beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, and bottled water on the front porch.” Yusef’s eyes rested on my biceps and pecs. “You’ll need to bring your own bathing suit.”

I held up my bag. “Not a problem.”

“After travelling, you must be ready for a rest before dinner. The two parlors on this floor are open to guests as is the front porch. Refreshments are served in the back parlor each day at four. Breakfast is served seven-thirty to ten am in the garden room, toward the back of this floor. Through the front sitting room are the stairs to the bedrooms. Your room is the last one on the left.” He glanced at my small bag. “Obviously, you won’t be needing help with your luggage.”

“Do you have any recommendations for dinner?”

He scratched at his thin beard. “There’s a great restaurant just three blocks north of us. They serve local-caught fish and key lime pie made from local limes. The food is amazing.”

“Sounds great.” I grinned. “Thank you for being so helpful.”

He returned the smile. “My pleasure. Enjoy your stay. And please let me know if you need anything.”

About the Author: Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite MM Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel. He is also the author of the remaining Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas; the Player Piano Mysteries: The Player and The Player’s Encore; the Jana Lane Mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Moving Forward, Stepping Out, New Beginnings, Happy Endings; the In My Heart Anthology: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star; the Tales from Fairyland Anthology: The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Anthology: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel; and the Found At Last Anthology: Finding Giorgio and Finding Armando. His books have won numerous Book of the Month awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions. As an actor, Joe appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Goddard College, Master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz, and is currently a happily married college theatre professor/department chair residing in New York State.

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