Greg Herren–a Very Prolific Writer
Introducing Greg Herren
Greg Herren started publishing books in 2002, almost nineteen years ago. I have been reading his work almost that long. He has written a great many more books than I have read, I have to admit. My Librarything.com catalog shows eleven of his works in my personal library. Well, to be truthful, when I started researching this post, Librarything said I had nine of Herren’s books, including two on Kindle. When I gathered them all together, I had nine paper and ink books and two on Kindle. Knowing that many of my mysteries are still unpacked and uncatalogued, I may have more of his works hidden away.
Greg Herren–In his own words
Herren is so prolific, it’s hard to keep up with his oeuvre. Almost any list you look at is already dated. In his blog post for Tuesday, December 15th, 2020, he wrote:
“So, as you have undoubtedly noticed–were you paying attention; I always assume you were–I didn’t have a book come out in 2020. Since my first book came out way back in 2002, I have only had a couple of years where something with my name–or that of a pseudonym–wasn’t released. 2005 was one, and there were a couple of those years in this past decade.”**
For what it’s worth, his second blog post for December 16th is the first chapter of his book Bury Me in Shadows,which he plans to publish in 2022.
Herren lives and works in New Orleans, and clearly loves that city. His works include two detective series, both based in the Big Easy. One series follows ex-cop and now P.I. Chanse MacLeod. The second is centered on Scotty Bradley, go-go dancer, personal trainer. Oh and Scotty reads the Tarot and finds himself surrounded by bad guys. Both MacLeod and Bradley are openly gay, and both live in New Orleans. Other than that, the two men couldn’t be more different. It says a lot about Herren’s skill that he can keep two story lines going with two quite different leading characters. And his style differs from one series to the other.
In addition to the two series, Herren has written over fifty short stories, at least a couple of Young Adult novels, some gothic horror in the mode of Phyllis Whitney or Mary Stewart. Under the pseudonym Todd Gregory he has written gay male erotica. He has also served as editor for several anthologies. In 2003, he was one of the founders of the annual Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, a celebration of LGBTQ writing and writers. Oh and he works as an HIV/AIDS counselor/educator.
Did I say he’s prolific?
If you’re not tired looking at his accomplishments, here’s what Jeffrey Ricker had to say about Herren as a preface to his 2011 interview for Lambda Literary:
Greg Herren is busier than you are. Just reading his list of publishing credits requires endurance. The New Orleans author has written five novels in the Scotty Bradley series, the latest of which, Who Dat Whodunnit (Bold Strokes Books), is released this month. He is also working on the sixth installment of his Chanse MacLeod mystery series, Murder in the Irish Channel. His Chanse novel Murder in the Rue Chartres (Alyson Books) is a Lambda Literary Award winner, and Herren also won a Lambda award for Love, Bourbon Street: Reflections on New Orleans (Alyson Books), which he co-edited. …
If you don’t feel like a slacker by now, you’re not trying hard enough.***
Greg Herren’s Oeuvre–as near as I can tell
Trying to get a handle on everything Herren has written, I ended up creating an Excel spreadsheet. I gave it three columns: Publication Date; Title: Series (if any). Here’s what I came up with, and I don’t guarantee any accuracy.
|2002||Full Body Contact: Sexy, Sweaty Men of Sport|
|2002||Murder in the Rue Dauphine||Chanse MacLeod Book 1|
|2003||Bourbon Street Blues||Scotty Bradley Book 1|
|2004||Jackson Square Jazz||Scotty Bradley Book 2|
|2004||Shadows of the Night: Queer Tales of the Uncanny and Unusual||Anthology Editor|
|2004||Upon a Midnight Clear Queer Christmas Tales||Anthology Editor|
|2004||Murder in the Rue St. Ann||Chanse MacLeod Book 2|
|2006||Love, Bourbon Street: Reflection of New Orleans||Anthology Editor|
|2006||Mardi Gras Mambo||Scotty Bradley Book 3|
|2007||Murder in the Rue Chartres||Chanse MacLeod book 3|
|2008||Murder in the Rue Usulines||Chanse MacLeod Book 4|
|2009||Murder in the Garden District||Chanse MacLeod Book 5|
|2010||Vieux Carré Voodoo||Scotty Bradley Book 4|
|2011||Who Dat Whodunnit||Scotty Bradley Book 5|
|2011||Sleeping Angel||Young Adult|
|2011||Murder in the Irish Channel||Chanse MacLeod Book 6|
|2011||Women of the Mean Streets: Lesbian Noir||Anthology Editor|
|2011||Men of the Mean Streets: Gay Noir||Anthology Editor|
|2012||Night Shadows: Queer Horror||Anthology Editor|
|2013||Baton Rouge Bingo||Scotty Bradley Book 6|
|2014||Murder in the Arts District||Chanse MacLeod Book 7|
|2015||The Orion Mask||Suspense/Mystery|
|2016||Garden District Gothic||Scotty Bradley Book 7|
|2018||Florida Happens||Anthology Editor|
|2019||Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories||Anthology|
|2019||Royal Street Reveillon||Scotty Bradley Book 8|
And that doesn’t include his erotica or his short stories.
Chanse MacLeod, P.I.
Greg Herren ’s first published mystery was Murder in the Rue Dauphine. A New Year’s book, Alyson Books published it on January 1st, 2002. This is our introduction to Chanse MacLeod. Kevin Burton Smith writing in the Thrilling Detective website describes Chanse thus:
Big Easy private eye CHANSE MacLEOD is suitably cynical, predictably tough and prone to wisecracks. He knows his way around town and, in a nice change of pace, is gay.
It is not clear to me just how old Chanse is, but he’s out of college, and has spent time with the New Orleans Police, so my guess is that he’s mid-thirties. He may or may not be in a relationship with a flight attendant, Paul. Paul is present only through his phone calls. Chanse is not sure if their relationship is open or closed. While he is attracted to various other men, he doesn’t act on that attraction.
Rue Dauphine introduces us to Paige Tourneur (how’s that for a name?). Paige was a classmate of Chanse back in college and is now drinking her way through the Times-Picayune. She’s Chanse’s best friend. She will continue to appear in future Chanse MacLeod stories.
Murder in the Rue Dauphinehttp://
At the gym for his morning workout, Chanse speaks with a handsome hunk who suggests that he needs the help of a private eye. Someone is blackmailing his rich but very closeted boyfriend. Chanse agrees to meet with him later, but when he shows up at the client’s home, the client is dead. Someone has written “Faggots Die” on the wall using the victim’s blood. Chanse turns the case over to the police. With no client, and without knowing the identity of the closeted boyfriend, there’s not much he can do. BUT…
Of course, if Greg Herren had left things there, we would have had no book, and no series. Suffice it to say that Chanse doesn’t leave well enough alone. We have plenty of mysteries to solve here. Who killed the client, and why? Was it an anti-gay hate crime? Can Chanse find the closeted boyfriend? Who is blackmailing him? And who is breaking into Chanse’s apartment? Will the Times-Picayune fire Paige Tourneur for smoking under her desk? We get the answers to these and many more questions before the end of the novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. After reading it, I wanted to move right on to the next in the series. Instead, I picked up Bourbon Street Blues.
The Scotty Bradley Mysteries
If the Chanse MacLeod book titles are all Murder in the…, the Scotty Bradley books have more to do with music. Bourbon Street Blues, Jackson Square Jazz, Mardi Gras Mambo, etc. But then, Scotty Bradley is most definitely not Chanse MacLeod.
Not yet thirty years old, Scotty is the youngest child of two New Orleans hippies. He’s also the grandson of four very wealthy, very conservative New Orleans socialites. Scotty’s last name is, indeed, Bradley, but his birth name is Milton. That’s right, Milton Bradley. He figures his parents came up with the name as a way of punishing their own parents. The grands, after all, objected to Storm and Rain, the names carried by Scotty’s older siblings.
Bourbon Street Blues
In Bourbon Street Blues, Scotty is no private eye. At the beginning of the book, he’s a fitness trainer working in a French Quarter gym. While in college, he was hired as a go-go dancer working the bar in gay clubs around the South. He still fills in as a dancer, and has the body for it.
As a child, Scotty received a Tarot deck and now uses the cards to seek answers to the questions in his life. He tends to go into a trance, and has visions that he cannot explain. Throughout this book, he repeatedly sees New Orleans destroyed with water surging into the French Quarter from the Mississippi. When a homophobic politician runs for Governor, Scotty gets involved in a political scandal.
Along the way one of his friends dies at Scotty’s front door. The building where he lives is firebombed. He takes a cat burglar home for hot sex. He finds a computer disk hidden in his dancing boot. And that’s all on one night during Southern Decadence. We won’t even go into “Hot Daddy” who turns out to be an FBI agent. Once again, there are plenty of mysteries to solve, plenty of questions that need answers. If anything, I liked this book even more than Murder in the Rue Dauphine. And not just because of the sex.
Moving on beyond Chanse and Scotty
Much as I wanted to read my way through either of the two series, I picked up Timothy instead. Timothy is a completely different type of book. In the author’s Acknowledgments, Greg Herren writes:
When I was growing up, I loved the novels of Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne Du Maurier. This book is an homage to those wonderful writers, and my own humble attempt to write a Gothic romantic suspense novel.
And that is what he did. The book made me open up Librarything once again. I started to pull books off my shelves. I now have Phyllis A. Whitney’s Silverhill in front of me. Back in the day, I always noted inside the front cover where and when I read the book. Silverhill tells me that I got the book on 23 June 1967 and finished it on the 28th. I was in El Cerrito,California at the time. And now I’m going to have to re-read it.
I don’t remember ever reading Rebecca. The only du Maurier LibraryThing says I own is The Scapegoat and that in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version. (Volume 2, 1957, in case you’re interested. Don’t judge me.) I did recently watch the 2020 remake of the movie version. Now here’s what I know.
Had du Maurier written Rebecca with a 21st Century, Long Island setting. If her characters were gay men. If Mrs. Danvers was a prissy queen, Rebecca would have become Timothy. What Herren has done, in essence, is rewrite Rebecca from a 21st Century, gay American male’s point of view. The further I got into the book, the more events I started foreseeing. I’d say “The masqued ball is coming up.” Or “Carson is going to suggest a costume.” I won’t go any further, because I really do recommend that you read this book. I found it thoroughly engaging, and gave it a 5 star rating. But, just between you and me, it really is just a rewrite of Rebecca. And like Rebecca, Timothy is the main character only because his ghost spreads such a wide shadow throughout the book. But read it and tell me if you think any differently.
I really do want to sit down and just devour all the Greg Herren books I can find. I’d start by rereading the ones I already have. I’d take the series in order, and I’d probably start with Scotty’s books. Then I’d have to start adding to my Kindle stash, because even second hand, these books get pricy. And of course I’ll have to reread Phyllis A. Whitney,Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Daphne du Maurier. In fact, I’ll probably leave the computer with Whitney’s Silverhill in hand.
Last Friday, I wrote about the mysteries of Richard Stevenson, and of course I want to re-read all his novels (and read the newer ones I don’t already have). Next week, we’ll take a look at the mysteries of Joseph Hansen. I have only fourteen of those on my shelves. Guess I’d better get to reading. Till tomorrow when we look at food, again.