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Tony Fennelly - Page 1
Tony Fennelly
Don't Blame the SnakeDon't Blame the Snake
1-900 - Dead1-900 - Dead
The Hippie In The WallThe Hippie In The Wall
The Closet HangingThe Closet Hanging
The Glory Hole MurdersThe Glory Hole Murders
Buy at By Tony Fennelly
About the Author

First American Edition
Top Publications (2001)
Buy at Don't Blame the Snake
It’s the sweltering summer of ‘95 and poor souls all over the country are dying from the record-breaking hot spell. Most of the public remains indoors, close to their TV sets, fascinated by the news event of the decade, the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Down South in stilling New Orleans, a literary celebrity lies dead of a mysterious rattlesnake bite in his penthouse hotel suite, while Margot Fortier, the Bourbon Street stripper-turned-society columnist deals with the heat by stretching out under a ceiling fan covered by a wet towel. Margo’s husband Julian invites her to escape the heat and join him at a mystery writers’ conference aboard the (blessedly air-conditioned) cruise ship Julep Queen: While sailing down the Mississippi, the Fortiers become acquainted with the arcane world of crime fiction publishing and the characters who populate it. Mango fends off the advances of the lecherous and conniving publisher, Harvey Gould, who soon afterward is found murdered in his cabin. And the fatal weapon appears to be another poisonous snake. Some suspects on hand are a reclusive literary star of the fifties who remains in his stateroom, naked, 24 hours a day, a former jewel thief who had bought his noble title, a plump cozy writer in search of romance, a degenerate author of gruesome best-sellers and his leather-clad dominatrix, and woebegone midlist authors who have plenty of reason to hate Harvey Gould. Other passengers include a priest traveling incognito with a handsome companion, a portly Elvis impersonator who sings the King’s repertoire in Yiddish and a "pre-published" English Professor who stalks the corridors waylaying all and sundry to read his tattered thousand-page manuscript.

First American Edition St Martin's Press (NY) (1997)
1-900 - Dead
There are more unusual means by which to murder someone, but the sword used to skewer the New Orleans psychic known as the "Mystic Delphine" ranks right up there. Adding to the confusion of the murder scene is the strange glyph found written in blood near her body. Together, the murder method and the glyph mean one thing to the police: They've got a strange one on their hands. Enter Margo Fortier, former topless dancer, now cream of New Orleans society (due to an advantageous marriage to the gay scion of an old and powerful family), as well as the local society gossip columnist. Desperate to finally break into hard news at her paper, she parlays her acquaintanceship with the victim into an inside track into the police investigation--something she may not live to regret. With all of Tony Fennelly's trademark wit and offbeat characters, 1-900-DEAD is sure to delight her many fans.

First American Edition St Ermine's Press (1994)
The Hippie In The Wall
When workmen discover a corpse dating back twenty years stuffed in the wall of a topless bar in New Orleans’s French Quarter, it raises any number of questions. Questions like who is this person, how did he get there, and who is responsible. With no clues to go on and a mysterious corpse on his hands, Lt. Frank Washington of the Homicide Division turns to an unlikely source for help - Margo Fortier.
Margo Fortier is a woman with a past. While now a prominent member of convenience to the quietly gay scion of an old respected family - and a society/gossip columnist for the local paper, twenty years ago she was known as Cherry, a topless dancer at the bar in which the corpse was uncovered. Margo, driven by the twin desires of protecting her own precarious position and uncovering a good story that will finally get her off the gossip beat, agrees to help the police try to identify the corpse.
Armed with questions and a reconstructed photo of the decease, Margo tracks down the other former employees of the bar in a quest that takes her through all levels of New Orleans society, from the mainstream wealthy to the eccentric fringe, and uncovers a deadly conspiracy that endangers not only her position but her life.

First British Edition Arlington (1987)
The Closet Hanging
Tony Fennelly brings back her unwitting gay sleuth Matty Sinclair to solve another gruesome murder mystery. This time the victim is property developer Brad Rutledge and Matt's motivation to assist the investigation is a personal quest to clear his own name. The two men were leading adversaries in New Orleans’ most controversial topical debate - a proposed new casino complex development. Matty was the last person to be seen with Brad and most incriminating of all, Brad was found hanged in a Sinclair-owned apartment.
Matty really does have to begin at square one as even he cannot account for his movements prior to the murder due to an impromptu epileptic fit resulting in temporary amnesia. As he pieces together the clues to Brad Rutledge’s last few hours he swiftly realises that he is not the only interested party and finds his own life under threat on more than one occasion.
With his young lover, Robin, at his side Matt displays courage, resourcefulness and, of course, a ready wit in his handling of the case and at the same time in fighting off the unwelcome advances of one Edwina Devon.

First British Edition Arlington (1986)
The Glory Hole Murders
When an up-and-coming businessman is murdered in a most unusual way, the New Orleans Police Department is stumped. It wasn’t just the why of the killing that puzzled them - after all, H.R. Loomis wasn't the first seemingly well-liked, well-respected, would-be politician ever to have met an untimely end - it was the How and the Where of it that caused shock and consternation. You see, Ol' H.R. was found in a position that could never be charitably described. And if the How was not unsettling enough, the Where was even more surprising-for this straight-shootin’' family man was discovered in the men's room of one of New Orleans' most notorious gay bars.
When a second murder with a similar MO occurs, the police, in the person of a smart black detective, attempt to enlist the help of Matt Sinclair. As the owner of the most fashionable antique store in the Quarter, Matt is well equipped to penetrate the gay community in a way the police can not. He is reluctant to get involved, however, until the cops suggest that his live-in houseboy/lover may be wanted in L.A. for a few out-standing youthful indiscretions . . .
Matt is smart, bitchy and, when necessary, extremely resourceful. New Orleans, that most European of American cities, is the perfect place to set a sophisticated murder mystery. Matt contributes humor and human interest, and the city provides atmosphere and history. And Tony Fennelly, writing with wit and style, makes it all into a delicious feast of detection.

About The Author
(In Her Own Words...)
(As much as I'll admit to!)
My early life in suburban New Jersey was uneventful except for my winning a hula hoop contest in 1957. I took off to see the world In 1966.
As I had only a high school education and no marketable skills, I always had to look for my jobs in the "Miscellaneous" column of the classifieds. I was a lingerie clerk at Altman's in New York while living with a crazy Greek. I sold books door-to-door in Puerto Rico where I was madly in love with the Spaniard who led the group playing at El Convento Hotel, and I dated a cute Chinese guy on the side as well as a slick-bald Swede and some Italians who worked on cruise ships.
(Hey, remember that this was during that all-too-brief period or history when young people could indulge in "free love' without dire consequences: after the invention of "The Pill" and before the onset of AIDS. In the late sixties it wasn't considered dangerous or even vulgar to wake up on a bare mattress in a 2nd Avenue crash pad next to a lead guitarist. We'll never see the like of that era again.) I sorted computer cards in a bank in L.A., and waited tables in Chicago where I dated an eighteen year old go-go boy AND his father who was a very handsome big-band musician.
In 'sixty-eight, almost every form of employment available to a woman there required that she be topless: dancers, waitresses, card dealers, even shoe-shine girls. At that time I didn't want to apply for a job because the proprietor demanded to see me topless first and I didn't want to audition them. I was afraid the guy would just shake his head.
"No, those won't do at all."
So I worked in a "bust-out" joint on Geary Street. That was an illegal after-hours club where we sold cheap gin in coffee cups and got a commission on our b-drinks. When a cop was suspected to be on the premises someone would yell "Vice!* and all the drinks would go on the floor. Or on some sailor's knee.
I landed in New Orleans in the fall of 'sixty-nine and got a job tending bar and b-drinking in a seamen's dive on Canal Street. My first night in town, I spotted a beautiful French-speaking Cajun boy who worked as an unskilled laborer on a pipe-laying barge and spent all his paychecks as soon as he got them. Richard Catoire was six feet tall with coal black hair, high cheekbones, perfect teeth and a Cajun accent thick as gumbo. And he bought me a ten-dollar bottle of champagne on which I got a five-dollar commission. So naturally, I spent the night with him.
[I hereby issue a warning: Never have a one-night-stand with a Capricorn because they stay FOREVER. Twenty-seven years later, that Cajun is STILL HERE and I can't get him to go home!] I had always wanted to be in show business, so I had a couple of gowns made with two-foot stripper zippers, bought some rhinestone G-strings and pasties, put on a platinum wig and "showed my business" all over Bourbon Street for the next two years. But I never would have become a head-liner because I wasn't willing to drive to Houston for the silicone implants.
I flaunted my charms in London where I was offered a job dancing naked in Soho.
I asked the booker, "What do you pay?"
He said, "What you're worth."
"Forget it! I can't live on that!"
And I flew to Paris where I went to the Lido with a businessman from Lyon and avoided weasel-faced Frenchmen who wanted me to buy them dinner. Europe was not for me. Back to New Orleans to live forever.
In the Fall of '72, Richard urged me to try college.
"Go to school; you ain't doin' nuttin'"
So I enrolled in the University of New Orleans as Mrs. Richard Catoire and got my B.A. in Drama in '76.
By that time I had decided to become a professional writer, so I stayed home and wrote full-time, year after year, book after book, for rejection after rejection. I didn't have children. I eschewed any social life. I just wrote without pay.
Meanwhile, Richard had been earning promotions, worked his way up to utility foreman in marine construction, and was making great money as his company flew him around the hemisphere to push crews in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
In 1983 Richard hurt his back on the job, rupturing two disks. His off-shore career was over and he had no experience doing anything else.
I said, "You speak French and Spanish and you like to talk all the time. Why don't you go to college and be a teacher?"
So he did, got into three honor societies including Phi Kappa Phi and studied a year in Europe on scholarship. Now he is happy teaching foreign languages at Chalmette High in St Bernard Parish and spending summers in Spain on his Masters program.
So much for him.
The Glory Hole Murders was the eighth book I wrote and the first to be published. It was set here in New Orleans and introduced the bitchy gay detective, Matt Sinclair, who has since become a cult favorite, translated into German, Japanese, Danish and Czech, and (in the single lucky break of my career) it would be nominated for an Edgar by the MWA.
The Glory Hole Murders came out in October of '85, during the year I worked for the Sate of Louisiana in the welfare office. I used that (awful) experience for my second Matt Sinclair mystery, The Closet Hanging, which came out in '87.
My third Matt Sinclair mystery, Kiss Yourself Goodbye, was published in England, Germany and Denmark, but not in the U.S.. I heard from some agents and publishers that they didn't want to touch a gay detective anymore because of the AIDS epidemic.
My new series features Margo Fortier, a middle-aged uh.. red-haired, former stripper who is now a society columnist and is um.. always looking for a good story and a rich lover.
(I don't know anyone like this. I just have a great imagination.)
The first of the Fortier series, The Hippie In The Wall, came out from St. Martin's in June '94 and the second, 1 (900) D-E-A-D, in January 1997.
When I first started writing about Margo, I sort of envied her because she had a glamorous job on the paper and that takes connections in New Orleans which I don't have. And she is welcome in the drawing rooms of society uptown.
But being the author of hardcover books does provide some cachet. In the past few years I've been invited to places where most people with normal well-paying jobs never go. In '87, I debated the radical Rabbi Meir Kahane on radio and WON. In '88 I stood on the floor of the Republican Convention in the Super Dome when President Reagan gave his farewell speech. In the summer of '89, I was the "Star" of the Semana Negra in Gijon, Spain, led a conga line of 4,300 people along the marina, and had my photo plastered all over the walls of a seamen's bar. (Maybe I haven't come so far from b-drinking on Canal Street after all.)
In '91 I was treated like a celebrity in Germany made a nine-city reading tour which earned me enough deutchsmarks to
by a full-length mink coat. In '92, I played the female lead in the Irish Literary Theatre's production of Brian Friel's "Aristocrats". And in the Fall of '96 I acted and sang in the Jefferson Performing Arts Society production of "Showboat".
I've learned about Mexican politics in Paco Taibo's living room in Mexico City, climbed the Toltec pyramids at Chichen Itaz, travelled through the mountains of Cuba escorted by a man who had fought for Castro up there and had my coconut shells read by a priest of Chango in Havana.
I love to give lectures and speeches and travel whenever I have the chance, but Margo Fortier has to stay in New Orleans. That's not a limitation. Anything that can happen anywhere else can happen here.


N.B. dates and publishers in dark red indicate British First Editions. Dates and publishers in black indicate recent reprints.

  • Don't Blame the Snake ( 2001) Top Publications Apr 01 (Margo Fortier)
  • 1-900 - Dead (St Martin's Press (NY), 1997) (Margo Fortier)
  • The Hippie In The Wall (St Ermine's Press, 1994) (Margo Fortier)
  • The Closet Hanging (Arlington, 1987) (Matt Sinclair)
  • The Glory Hole Murders (Arlington, 1986) (Matt Sinclair)
  • Kiss Yourself Goodbye (Arlington, 1986) (Matt Sinclair)

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