The writer of Midland Club is a filmmaker, a fact that comes through in the clarity and imagery of his writing. He captures in a 'noiresque' manner the atmosphere of the period and the location. The story revolves around the death of Puce Bordeaux and the life of Rich St Pierre, a member of a local patrician family, estranged from his 'clan' owing to his homosexuality. Rich used to know Puce as a waiter in the Midland Club and is convinced his death was not down to suicide. His tentative investigations uncover a web of intrigue and more than a hint of hypocrisy. The book is liberally spliced with some wonderful description and pithy asides; his description of a club with a crowd that was the only thing passing for Bohemian in town was a delicious summation of tight-knit communities and closed morals for anyone who has ever thought there was more to life. The story rolls along at a good pace and reaches a suitably heightened denouement, leaving the reader with a vague and unnerving sense of ennui regarding the central protagonist's future. It would make a great film. -- AndyE
As an architecture fan and a native of Kansas City, I instantly knew the historical cover photo was of KC's Junction at Ninth and Main, although the town's name is never actually disclosed in the book. Even more than the buildings, this mid-century Midwesterner recognized my hometown's repressive social strictures of decades ago, designed to prevent the intersections of ethnicity, class, and forbidden love at the heart of this tale of passion and loss. Mark Spano can be proud of this story, as it perfectly captures that place and time to create an engaging work of noir fiction. It kept me reading non-stop until the end, meriting this hearty recommendation.
Fast-paced and engaging. Immediately, you feel like you're in the mind and heart of the protagonist, Rich St. Pierre. Unlocking the story behind the scandal of the homosexual, African-American Puce Bordeaux's death keeps the pages turning while the short chapters resemble one's memory fluttering through the vivid, emotion-stirring scenes of the narrative. Family turmoil, career disruption, societal pressure, love: this book has many of the things people can relate to in life. Peppered in between the lines of the storyline, Spano reveals snippets of philosophy and wisdom. As one reads, one can only hope that Rich St. Pierre will prevail with the truth after enduring the obstacle course. Looking forward to Spano's next novel. -- Nick Szeto
Midland Club is awesome! The author skillfully weaves a riveting story of love, hatred, murder and a young boy dealing with his homosexuality into a cohesive, page-turning book. Midland Club leaves the reader's appetite for intrigue, conflict and "whodunit" satisfied...and wanting more! -- TPD
Set in 1958 in Kansas City, “Midland Club” is a dark and cynical tale that reads like a film noir classic.
Rick St. Pierre comes from a “wealthy tribe of lawyers” who belong to the exclusive Midland Club, whose members are among the upper echelon of Kansas City society, until Rick is arrested one night in a police raid of the club Miss Otis Regrets – “a gathering place for homosexuals of whom I was no exception.” When Rick learns of the mysterious death of Puce Bordeaux, the only Negro waiter at the Midland Club, Rick sets aside his on and off career as a bail bondsman and digs through the wreckage of his past to find the truth about Puce’s death.
The beauty of Midland Club is the telling of the tale, rather than the answer to the mystery. Along the way we meet jazz singers, Italian gangsters, priests, a queer antique dealer, a psychic bordello owner, and learn stories of great love and love that died too soon. There’s a bit of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” amidst the melancholy and I highly recommend this book.
This novel is a small jewel. It is like a hidden pearl that you won’t see until you opened a shell. Maybe it is the reason why it stays unnoticed and unknown for the target audience. No I don’t speak here about a broad audience, gay literary fiction as a genre doesn’t have it, unfortunately.
I’m really surprised to find such beautifully and such unusually told historical mystery novel by a totally new for me author. I hope to see more fictional books from Mark Spano in the future.
Richard St.Pierre belongs to one of the wealthiest families of the Midwest, and 6 years ago he was also a member of the Midland Club, that meant that he was still part of his family and the city. But it was before the police raided the Miss Otis, a place where gays met. As a result – he lost his job, his family abandoned him and he never saw and talked to his father until his death. Now he lives in a black neighborhood, in a cheap apartment and spends most of his money on phonograph records, concerts, liquor and the pursuit of sex.
When Puce, the only black waiter at the Midland Club whom Richard knows since he was a boy, is found dead, the cops says it is suicide. TBut it is not what Richard believes, and as he tries to find the truth, he comes across the secrets that put his life in danger.
The best in this novel is not the story itself, and not the mystery, though I have to praise the author for a very accurate historical atmosphere he created – but HOW it is told. Midland Club is melancholic, lyric, flawlessly smooth and realistic.
I always emphasized that I’m a first person POV junkie. There are books that not necessarily have to be told from the first person pov. But it is impossible not to do it in [book:Midland Club|32768172] and Mark Spano does it masterfully. Richard doesn’t ONLY try to reveal the truth at the risk of his own life, he tells about his family’s history, about himself, people from the past and people around him, he shares his feelings, thoughts and memories and as the result we have an excellent piece of gay fiction of exceptional quality.
Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Midland Club by Mark Spano is a gritty story of love, secrets, corruption and murder in a small Midwestern town, a story that is told in an exciting and absorbing voice. Meet Richard St. Pierre, a man who spends sleepless nights wondering if Puce, the “Negro homosexual with no family to speak of,” was murdered or if he killed himself. But there is more than the death of a Negro, so much more than other murders in the town. Rich St. Pierre wants nothing but the truth and there is only one way to find out: attend Garland’s birthday party. This means meeting the people who know a lot about him at the Midland Club, and men of his father’s age who hate him, except Uncle Bud, his mother’s sibling. Can he unravel the truth and solve a murder mystery, even if this means putting his own life in grave danger?
Mark Spano is a great storyteller and the absorbing, clear, and humorous narrative voice will arrest the attention of readers. The story has a complex plot with fascinating characters. The point of view comes out very neatly in the first person narrative. The prose captures powerful scenes and images that will stay with the reader. The dialogues are minimal and I enjoyed the fact that they are not forced; they read like natural, logical conversations. The protagonist introduces himself in very clear terms:
“Since the interruption of my legal career, I have spent very little time making a living. I inherited some income after my father’s death. Marty prevented me from having any control over the family properties, but he couldn’t prevent me from receiving my trust fund income. My rent is low. My car is old. I seem to spend most of my money on phonograph records, concerts, liquor, and the pursuit of sex.”
Midland Club is a story that perfectly integrates the spirit of the western, featuring a complex plot that will excite readers and drive them to read on. It is pure delight, composed with beautiful social commentaries and wonderful themes.
An adaptation of his critically acclaimed murder mystery, Midland Club.
August 16, 2017 (Chapel Hill, NC) -- Mark Spano, the Chapel Hill-based author of the critically acclaimed murder mystery, Midland Club, has been awarded a month-long residency at Escape to Create in Seaside, Florida, to turn his award-winning novel into a screenplay.
Escape to Create (E2C) is a nationally recognized, non-profit, multidisciplinary artist residency hosted by the Seaside community since 1993. Over 150 writers, musicians, visual artists, and scholars have been awarded month-long retreats as emerging and mid-career artists.
Mark Spano is an accomplished filmmaker as well as author. His works include "The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell" and the definitive documentary on Sicily, “Sicily: Land of Love and Strife.” As a result, he admits that he visualized Midland Club on the screen as he wrote it.
“First of all, I want to express my deep appreciation to the selection committee, board, staff, and volunteers at Escape to Create,” Spano said. “I am truly honored and overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity.
“Since I work as both a writer and a filmmaker,” he continued, “when I’m working on any project in one medium I'm always considering, consciously or not, the possibilities of the other media. With new technologies, it seems ideas can have many different lives. My colleagues and I have more than once discussed adapting Midland Club to film. This residency has set these wheels in motion.”
To some of his admiring critics, the adaptation of a screenplay is a natural progression.
"Midland Club is a dark and cynical tale that reads like a film noir classic,” wrote one reviewer for GayBookReviews.com, who also noted, “There's a bit of ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ amidst the melancholy…”
Two of the many positive Amazon Reader Comments call the book “an engaging work of noir fiction” and: “The writer of Midland Club is a filmmaker, a fact that comes through in the clarity and imagery of his writing. He captures, in a 'noiresque' manner, the atmosphere of the period and the location.”
A Page-Turning Tale
Published in May of 2016, Midland Club is a page-turning tale of corruption, love, lies, and murder set in a Midwestern city in 1958. Puce Bordeaux, the only “Negro” waiter at the exclusive Midland Club downtown, dies suddenly and the sheriff immediately declares it a suicide.
Yet one man refuses to believe the death was suicide. That man is the protagonist, Rich St. Pierre, a member of the city’s wealthy, white, First Family. Rich has known the now-elderly Puce since Rich was a child and dined at the club with his wealthy father. Rich and Puce also spent a night together in jail after a raid on a local dive bar where the town’s otherwise hidden gay community gathers for drinks and jazz. He’s certain that Puce was murdered to make sure a scandalous secret goes to the grave with him.
Ostracized by his family since the raid, Rich St. Pierre is just as certain that his own life will be in grave danger if he attempts to reveal the truth.
Spano will spend January 2018 at E2C in Seaside. Afterward, he’ll join an impressive alumni club that includes nominees and recipients of The Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes; National Book Awards; scholarships at the American Academy of Arts & Letters and The American Academy in Rome; ASCAP and Aaron Copeland Awards; Guggenheim Foundation scholarships; James Beard and Grammy Awards; and more.
E2C residencies are made possible through the generosity of Seaside homeowners, merchants, and donors. For more information on E2C visit www.escape2create.org.
For more information on Mark Spano and Midland Club, visit blog.markspano.com and BookLife/Publishers Weekly.
Midland Club is available as a paperback book and in digital format on Amazon.
Chapel Hill novelist Mark Spano will read from his new book Midland Club.
June 8, 2017 (Raleigh, NC) -- As part of the Raleigh LGBT Center’s 2017 Sizzling Summer "Meet the Author" Series, novelist Mark Spano of Chapel Hill will read from his critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Midland Club on Sunday, June 25th, beginning at 1 p.m.
After the reading, Spano will sign copies of the 120-page book that GayBook.Reviews.com critics have called “a dark and cynical tale that reads like a film noir classic,” “…a small jewel...melancholic, lyric, flawlessly smooth and realistic,” and “…more than just a murder mystery. It speaks to the human condition." Most recently, ReadersFavorite.com reviewer Romualdo Dzemo praised the book as a "pure delight, composed of beautiful social commentaries and wonderful themes."
Published by Thunderfoot Press, Midland Club has maintained a 4.2 (out of 5) rating on Amazon since it appeared there in December of 2016. Earlier this month, Midland Club received a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award from the National Association of Book Entrepreneurs (NABE), one of only two books honored for Winter 2017 in the Mystery category.
Set in a midwestern city in 1958, Midland Club has all the elements of a good mystery: vibrant characters, a familiar setting, and a plot in which the solution to the mystery is ultimately revealed. Beyond a good mystery, it also addresses the pain of one gay man, alone in a town that despises him. And if the reader is paying attention, that pain foreshadows the conclusion.
Midland Club is now part of the LGBT Center of Raleigh Library.
This and all other “Meet the Authors” events this summer are free and open to the public.
The LGBT Center of Raleigh is located 324 South Harrington Street in downtown Raleigh. For more information: www.lgbtcenterofraleigh.com.
For more information on Mark Spano and Midland Club, go to http://blog.markspano.com.
About The Author:
MARK SPANO is the author of five works of fiction and a memoir. As a filmmaker, his work includes The Quality of Light: A Biography of Claude Howell and the definitive documentary on Sicily, “Reimagining Sicily.” He holds advanced degrees from Marymount University of Virginia and the American University in Washington, D.C., and now resides in rural Orange County, North Carolina.
Thunderfoot Press author Mark Spano's new 120-page book, Midland Club, officially released just one month ago, is already receiving rave reviews from critics and readers and remains ranked at 4.3 stars out of five among Amazon Customer Reviews.
"I'm stunned and humbled by the favorable critical responses to Midland Club," Spano said recently. "What, though, is of greater consequence is that the book has struck a chord with its readers. That is surely every writer's ambition." (READ MORE...)
Raleigh, NC, January 26, 2017 --(PR.com)-- Thunderfoot Press, a small publishing house in Orange County, NC, has commissioned Blueplate PR of Raleigh to market and promote its premiere title, Midland Club, a new murder mystery by Mark Spano with immediate social relevance.
“November 8, 2016, marked the beginning of a surge in hate crimes in this country, including crimes directed at our LGBT citizens,” said Blueplate PR owner Kim Weiss. “The first time I read Midland Club, which is set in 1958, the relevance jumped off the page at me.
“Fear of that heinous type of crime informs how the book’s main character, Rich St. Pierre, responds to the death of a friend – a gay black man. Everyone in the mid-western city believes it was suicide. Rich knows better. I’m deeply honored to work with Thunderfoot Press to promote this gripping and relevant page-turner, which will remind readers of the best in noir filmmaking.” (READ MORE...)