At least once a year, Toronto author Jeffrey Round publishes a mystery novel. The latest, After the Horses, is number four in his Dan Sharp series. Sharp, a gay private investigator living in Leslieville, battles both bad guys and his own demons, but he always gets his man.
I have really enjoyed the previous novels in the series, but After the Horses is of particular interest to Toronto’s gay community. It features the suspicious murder of a bar owner (like Janko Naglic) as well as several very real Toronto locations. The bar owner lived in a giant Parkdale mansion, identical to Lockie House, the property belonging to the former owners of Glad Day Bookshop. The lawyer who hires Dan Sharp, has him investigate lives in the penthouse suite of the Radio City condos. The bar Dan goes to is exactly like the Black Eagle. Reading After the Horses is almost a roman a clef.
“I was inspired by things that happened here in Toronto,” Round tells me over sushi. “I had been going to The Barn for so many years. When I heard about the murder, I was on vacation, and I was oddly moved by the news.” Round also makes use of community gossip, about things like when bars supposedly had to pay protection money to the cops, citing a bizarre incident years ago when the Eagle was closed for several days apparently due to ‘overcrowding.’ There is no proof of any of this, but it is fun material for a mystery writer with a good imagination.
Most significantly, Dan Sharp is a sexually active gay man. I can’t help asking Round if he sees himself as Dan Sharp. “Oh God, no. He’s much more cynical than me. Younger. I see him sort of like Jason Isaacs in the BBC show Case Histories.”
The next instalment, The God Game, will be out next year. It’s set at Queen’s Park. But if you’re in the mood for a mystery set right here in the gay village, then you simply must read After the Horses.