Dante and Jazz: him and her … white and Black … gay and straight.
They make a dodgy team at best.

But the race is on to name a killer and rescue a child.


by Michael Craft

Dante O’Donnell and Jazz Friendly make an unlikely pair of crime solvers, thrust together by iffy circumstances in the so-called paradise of sunny Palm Springs. He’s white and gay, a concierge at a vacation-rental outfit; she’s Black and straight, a private eye on the rebound from a failed marriage.

Maude Movay, a reclusive author of romance novels, is facing a tight deadline for a multimillion-dollar deal. So she checks in at one of Dante’s rentals intending to write a blockbuster, then checks out on a gurney, feet first.

It was murder, all right, and Jazz steps in to help prove who’s guilty. Soon, though, a second tragedy strikes, this one much too close to home. For both Dante and Jazz, the race is on to name a killer, save a fortune—and rescue an innocent child.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

296 pages, Questover Press. 

Copyright © 2023 by Michael Craft.

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Critical acclaim for Desert Deadline 

IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, Gold Winner: LGBTQ

“The gripping yet hilarious second book in Craft’s Dante & Jazz mystery series … bursts with characters who are as quirkily memorable as they are believably human. The writing is sharp and succinct, as is the plotting, carrying the mystery along with brisk confidence. It all culminates into a delicious whodunit … as funny as it is thrilling.” 

BookLife Reviews (Editor’s Pick)

“Craft deepens his protagonists’ rapport considerably, and complements the impressive character development with a brain-teasing mystery. Readers will hope to hear more from Dante and Jazz soon.”  

Publishers Weekly

“It’s fun to see Craft, the author of 19 novels, plot the demise of [an] author, which he does with typical ingenuity and precision.”  

Kirkus Reviews

“Craft infuses this new page-turner with creativity, sass, and intrigue. As inventive as it is captivating, Desert Deadline gives readers a winning tale.” 

The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, Greg Archer

“With hypnotic prose and deft turns-of-phrase, Michael Craft celebrates the camaraderie between misfits situated in an environment where a luscious façade often hides more ugly truths. Humor and smiles dominate, but don’t let that lull you in too much; Desert Deadline is also a suspense-filled read.” 

BOLO Books Review, Kristopher Zgorski

“Michael Craft is a writer of great charm, and Desert Deadline shows him at his most charming. The mystery is cunningly plotted, but it’s the characters and their relationships that make for such a memorable read.” 

— Michael Nava, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of the “Henry Rios” mysteries

“No one delivers a sharp, stylish whodunit like Michael Craft. Romance on the page turns deadly in the desert when Dante and Jazz return in this delightful—and sexy—sequel.” 

— Rob Osler, MWA award-winning author of Devil’s Chew Toy

“On the stiletto heels of the inaugural Dante and Jazz mystery, Desert Deadline does not disappoint. Michael Craft imbues his tale with just the right amount of atmospheric magic, both brilliantly sunny and deliciously shady at the same time.” 

— Anthony Bidulka, Lambda Literary Award-winning author

“In this excellent second installment of the Dante and Jazz series, relationships—good, bad, complicated—are really what the story is all about. Craft’s elegant writing and tight control of his plot creates a sense of place unlike anything I’ve ever read.” 

Backlot Gay Book Forum, Ulysses Dietz

Desert Deadline is a romping good mystery—a perfect summer read with many laugh-out-loud moments. You cannot turn the pages fast enough in this well-crafted whodunit.” 

Plattsburgh (NY) Press-Republican, Thomas Grant Bruso

“Craft’s compass holds steady in the second book of this great new series. He has wreaked and weathered mayhem through 19 novels now, so relax—and enjoy the ride.” 

Lavender Magazine, Minneapolis, E.B. Boatner

“This book is a delight on every level. Desert Deadline will definitely be on my ‘Best Books of 2023’ list!” 

King’s River Life, Lorie Lewis Ham, Editor-in-Chief

“Master storyteller Michael Craft has done it again in Desert Deadline. This fabulous new mystery will capture you and keep you turning the pages—from page one until the end.” 

— “Out With Dan” podcast, Dan White

“As the flash and flamboyance of Palm Springs is revealed, Dante and Jazz find themselves searching for the emotional links missing in their own lives. Desert Deadline is as much about preserving the magic in relationships as it is about preserving life when a murderer resides too close to home.” 

Midwest Book Review, Diane Donovan

Notes from the author

I want to thank you, my readers, for embracing the Dante & Jazz mystery series, which employs a stylistic departure from much of my previous work. Your enthusiasm for last year’s Desert Getaway was not only deeply gratifying, but it was echoed by the book’s Edgar nomination for the Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Award. The warm reception of that first book has served as validation for the series as a whole and has led directly to this second installment.

This sequel, Desert Deadline, is my 19th published novel. Thank you for wanting more.

Michael Craft, 2023

“You really want to read this book.
  You really ought to order it, right now.” 

Discussion and reading at Desert Hot Springs Library

October 19, 2023