After being shocked by what happened to Tom Danzel at the end of the previous book I was almost afraid to start this one while at the same time wanting to learn news of his recovery. I knew this would be a good book even before I turned the first page and it was, a really good story in fact, possibly the best of the four in the series. Stanley Korsky and Tom Danzel are back and are in the middle of a series of mysterious occurrences in and around Bartholomew's mortuary in San Francisco's Castro. We have apparent suicides, accidents, and suspected murders all mixed up with unexplained mischief at Bartholomew's.
Tom and Stanley are together but there's not been much activity at their private investigation business. Tom has been healing after his experiences on their last case and Stanley has healing of his own to do, more spiritual than physical in his case. Partially lost in their individual private worlds, they haven't been communicating all that well of late and Stanley in particular is beginning to wonder if their brief relationship is beginning to unravel in spite of how they feel about each other. Then a new case presents itself and sparks their interest. Getting back to solving crimes seems to also get them back to living, feeling and even talking again. Fortunately, they truly love each other and that sees them through various temptations that might have overcome couples who didn't share such a strong feeling of belonging together
The characters are very life-like and the plot is nicely convoluted without appearing to be contrived. I had no idea who was the bad guy until the author saw fit to reveal that but it was all very plausible and logical. In the course of the story we learn a great deal about how funeral parlours operate, including an embalming session that's realistic in the extreme. We're treated to another dramatic climax to this story and as in the previous book it is up to Tom to save Stanley, if he can. It's a gay romance so there has to be some sex and there is but it's never one of those stroke-by-stroke events that more often than not overwhelm the plots and characters in the works of lesser writers. Stanley and Tom love each other and their physical interaction is just part of the package, not the raison d'être.
As far as I knew at the time I wrote this there were only 4 books in this mystery series and I felt that was a real shame. I'd happily read another 4 if they were out there and I hope Banis is planning to write a few more to fill out this series. The two main characters deserve a few more outings and those of us who are hooked on this great series would be delighted to read more. Imagine my surprise and delight the next morning when a box of books from Amazon contained book 5 in the series!) 'Deadly Slumber' is a great mystery story, a beautiful love story, and just a really good book. And the dénouement, coming right after the exciting climax, is one of the most poignant and beautiful parts of the entire series.
If you're a mystery fan, you'll want to buy this series by all means, but take my advice and read the books in order for the best effect. I think you'll agree that they all deserve the 5-star rating that I've given them.