A Body In The Bathhouse | Brad Shreve
Mitch O’Reilly Mysteries #1
Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
Length: 65,000 words approx.
Cover Design: UmeWorks
On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall.
After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break.
A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.
As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.
Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.
A Little History About Bathhouse Culture
Some people have been curious why I wrote a mystery that takes place in a bathhouse. The answer to that is simple. It seems, unlike many authors who tell me they struggle to come up with titles to their novels, I have the opposite problem. The titles hit me and then I must work a story around it. Not the easiest route, but it’s what works for me.
I don’t know when or where the title A Body in a Bathhouse hit me, but I knew right away I had to use it.
Once I decided to write a mystery involving a bathhouse that’s where the fun began. I learned about the history of bathhouses and bathhouse culture. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The history is long. The early Greeks and Romans made public baths part of their culture around 20 BC. Some were large enough to hold 600 people. But those aren’t the types of baths I’m talking about, and I don’t have enough space for 2,000 years of history.
Gay bathhouses showed up in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. Many old traditional Turkish baths built small private rooms for gay men to use. American’s first police raid of a bathhouse was in 1903 in New York City and 23 men were arrested and 7 were sentenced to long-term prison sentences.
For decades bathhouses were a safer, though not safe, place for gay men to meet others for sex.
Modern gay bathhouses sprouted up in the 1950s. These supplied not only a sexual outlet, but social as well. Men could be themselves around other gay men, with no fear of blackmail or harassment. When men had sex, it was without the need for secrecy or fear of judgement. There was still the fear of raids and arrests, but they were safer than public parks and restrooms.
Gay bathhouses hit their heyday in the late 1960s and 1970s when they became fully licenses business. With the advent of the gay liberation movement, many became the hub of the gay community, offering pride events, voter registration, and plenty of entertainment. Bette Midler got her start performing in bathhouses. One time she was accompanied on the piano by Barry Manilow. “Bathhouse Betty” performed at the Continental Baths that opened in 1968 and included cabaret shows, disco dancing, an Olympic size swimming pool, held 1,000 men, and, of course, had plenty of small private rooms.
The glory days of bathhouses ended in the 1980s with the advent of the AIDS epidemic. During the 1970s, there were as many as 30 gay bathhouses in San Francisco. When the epidemic led the city to outlaw club sexual activity in 1984, the last one within the city closed in 1987. Before the epidemic there were about 200 bathhouses nationwide; today there are less than 70.
One challenge of bathhouses today is after the 1980s they were no longer social centers and reverted to nothing more than safe places for anonymous sex. With the advent of the internet and applications like Grindr, they are less needed, and clubs close every year. Hell, sometimes all you need is to catch another fella’s eye while in the supermarket. Something unheard of not long ago.
I cover much of this in A Body in a Bathhouse though in a more entertaining way than this history lesson. Today’s bathhouses know if they continue to only hand out towels at a small fee for men looking for sex they will not survive. To continue, they will need to return to the days of being a social and cultural center. Many clubs are making the effort, how many will succeed only time will tell.
About The Author
After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, Brad Shreve criss-crossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, he’s managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck and even hocked pre-burial funeral plans.
He credits Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for developing his interest in art and storytelling. He’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave him his first inklings that he’d like to be a novelist someday.
In addition to perpetually thinking of how to kill people, he’s a proud dad, a beach bum, and coffee house squatter.
He currently lives in the Los Angeles South Bay with his husband, Maurice.
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