Book Reviews

The Case of the Missing Drag Queen (Luke Tanner Mysteries 1) by Michael Rupured at DSP Publications

Genre Gay / Historical / Recent (1980s) / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 19-June-2018

Book Blurb

Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie's support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship. 


On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance.


Luke reluctantly agrees to help his newfound friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.


Book Review

This story, set in the Lexington, Kentucky, of 1982, feels strange and familiar at the same time: strange because times were so different back then that it is almost a historical, and familiar because I was just a few years younger than the main character when it happened. As a result, I enjoyed the novel for its “nostalgic” sense of what the world was like before laptops, cell phones, and the internet. But I digress - aside from the accurate setting, this mystery has a lot to offer. The characters are varied and well developed, the snarkiness between performers is caught perfectly, and the descriptions of the shows and other goings-on at the Gilded Lily (where the main character and the missing drag queen work) made me laugh. Then there is the suspense as Luke tries to figure out what happened to the vanished Ruby – it certainly kept me on my toes and turning the pages.

Luke is not exactly at the pinnacle of a successful career when this story starts, but at least being a bartender provides him with a minimal income. He wants to be a writer but has not gotten further than typing “Chapter One”. He is only twenty-five but has already survived a disastrous relationship that left him with a mountain of debt. He is his building’s super in return for half off his rent, but he is not exactly a handyman. The scenes with him attempting to repair some of the mishaps his neighbors in the Sinclair Arms produce are hilarious. I could see his life being difficult before his neighbor next door, a drag queen of some fame named Ruby, disappears. But afterward? Luke’s existence turns into a whirlwind of clues, dangerous situations, and revelations that make Luke learn a lot more about himself and his capabilities than he thought possible. While the change isn’t immediate, Luke’ self-confidence and maturity go up significantly as he deals with the various obstacles in his way.

The search for Ruby is not easy. Pixie, another drag queen and truly wonderful genderqueer person, helps Luke find his bearings as an “unofficial PI” and is by his side through all their adventures. Lists of suspects, searches for clues, talking to a range of people who might help, suspicious prowlers, a robbery, personal attacks, and more than one red herring are all part of the chase. And while the mystery of Ruby’s whereabouts is very much at the center of the story, much of my enjoyment came from getting to know the various characters and watching them interact.

This is not a murder mystery. It isn’t a romance either. But I think that because many of the characteristics of a mystery are present and the (unsuccessful) search for romance is definitely on Luke’s agenda, the feeling I had going through this was very similar to the one I have when reading a romantic intrigue – only without all the blood and gore. And I was very grateful for that!

If you like stories with a riddle at their center that everyone is trying to solve, if great characters and humor are your thing, and if you’re looking for an entertaining read set in the 1980s that is as much about change and growth as it is about solving someone’s disappearance, then you will probably like this novel. If this first volume is a sign of things to come, sign me up!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by DSP Publications for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 210 pages/60018 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 19-June-2018
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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