"Desert Deadline" by Michael Craft: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

 Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Desert Deadline is the second book in the Dante and Jazz mystery series by Michael Craft. The pair were thrown together in book one, Desert Getaway, and ended up solving a murder in Palm Springs. Now they choose to solve crimes together. Jazz Friendly is an ex-cop with her own private detective agency, and Dante O’Donnell helps out as he has time. His real job is working for Sunny Junket Vacation Rentals—working with their high-end clients. They are an unlikely pair, as he is white and gay, and she is Black and straight and on the rebound from a failed marriage. She also has a young daughter.

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Image Source Questover Press
This book starts off with Dante talking about Swedish “death cleaning” which immediately catches your attention. Dante is preparing a vacation rental in Indian Wells, an enclave of gated country clubs about fifteen miles from Palm Springs, for the famous reclusive romance author Maude Movay. Maude is facing a tight deadline for a multimillion-dollar deal and needs a quiet place to get it done. But when Dante arrives to see if she needs anything, instead of finding Maude he meets her publicist and manager—Lanford Endicott and Guy Kirby—who are also married. With them is their personal trainer, and perhaps a bit more, Ramil. Lanford tells Dante that he would like to hire Jazz to check someone out. That evening Dante and Jazz are invited to a dinner party, and yet again Maude doesn’t show. However, they are joined by Jazz’s ex, Christopher, and his law associate Allison Harper. Also present are Lanford’s very odd and drunk niece and her husband. By morning, Maude Movay has been murdered and Jazz and Dante are hired to find the real killer.

As if solving a murder wasn’t enough to have on his mind, Dante is also dealing with relationship issues. He is now involved in a more serious relationship with his young neighbor Isandro, and it appears as though Isandro wants to take things to the next level. Dante isn’t sure if he wants that and he finds himself tempted by Ramil. Throw in a kidnapping and people who aren’t what they seem, and you have a mystery that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat to the end. While there are elements of this series that could be considered cozy, there is a bit of strong language.

This book is a delight on every level! Not only does it have an interesting mystery, but I love the characters and their drama-filled lives. I am just as interested in seeing where the various relationships go as I am in seeing what mystery they have to solve in the next book. I can’t wait! Desert Deadline will definitely be on my “Best Books of 2023” list!

To enter to win a copy of, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "deadline,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 23, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

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Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie's mystery writing including her latest mystery novel One of Us, a Tower District Mystery, at Mysteryrat's Closet.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds like a series I should start reading. Thanks for the chance.

  2. New series for me, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

  3. New series to me! Definitely will check it out! Fingers crossed!
    Stacieamelotte (at) yahoo (dot) com

  4. dlcnason1@msn.com
    This looks like a fun series. Thank you for the contest!

  5. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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