Divas Las Vegas – Rob Rosen (Cleis Press)

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Despite that small cultural intersection where The Liberace Museum meets Cher and Bette’s casino shows, gay and Las Vegas go together about as well as chocolate cake and grape soda. However, Rob Rosen is using his smart, stylish sense of humor to change that in his latest book, Divas Las Vegas.

Best friends Em (think “Wizard of Oz”) and Justin turn Vegas upside down, intent on buying back Em’s grandmother’s heirloom vase, which got to the land of sun and sin courtesy of Antiques Roadshow. In their search for the missing piece of porcelain, they run into Julius Caesar, a Patsy Clineimitator, a cabdriver named Earl with a serious Marlboro jones – and, of course, the three people who wind up dead.

 From the very beginning when our hero finds himself in a church closet dressed in nothing but his underwear and surrounded by Bibles and votive candles, you know you’re in for a novel full of weird situations, odd characters and coincidences galore. It’s all played broadly and bawdily with plenty of cracks, smirks and asides as only Rob Rosen can make them. And the mystery story is smart enough to have you guessing right up to the denouement.

But wait – as the late Billy Masters would say – there’s more. In addition to the crackerjack plot, you also get some Vegas travelogue as Rosen takes his readers on a tour of the city, giving some pretty concise and factual information on the hotels and casinos as well as their clientele.My only problem is with Em’s straight female friend Glenda, who sounds more like a gay man than a hetero woman, but what’s the harm in that? She’s basically one of the guys anyway.

So, if you’re looking for a good time (and who isn’t?), crack open this book, hang your disbelief on the nearest slot machine handle and settle in for some laughs. You’ll be glad that when this happened in Vegas, it didn’t stay there. 

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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