by Dieter Moitzi
When the famous movie “Death on the Nile” starring Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, and Mia Farrow amongst others, was released, I was six years old (hrm, yep, go on, Wikipedia it, and you’ll know I’m already that old, lol). I didn’t see it back then, of course, but ever since, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it or read Agatha Christie’s book. Countless times, that’s for sure. I’ll always remember that remarkable scene where Mia Farrow is standing beneath the colossal statues of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel and shouting I don’t recall what, a breeze ruffling her hair, a luminous smile on her face, her voice echoing over the site.
I guess I’ve always dreamed of doing the same. Imagine therefore how excited I was in 2018 when, on a whim, my long-time boyfriend and I decided to book a cabin on ship cruising the Nile. All right, June in Egypt—we knew it would be sizzling hot (it was as a matter of fact). But hey: Karnak, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, Aswan, the first cataract, Elephantine, hopefully Abu Simbel… I knew I was going to see it all, and then some.
Don’t worry, I won’t relate the whole one-week trip. Suffice it to say we were overwhelmed (the effing Nile, for God’s sake! There before our eyes!), brought loads of tourist crap back home (dust-catchers, you could call them), and took… over 3,000 photos. And don’t get me started on all the wonderful memories that are still in my head.
Strangely enough, though, I hadn’t been thinking of using the setting for a book back then.
But last year, I was sorting through my photo-files, selecting some for my travel site, when all of a sudden, I had a flash-like “That’s it!”-experience. It was odd because I had already started working on the sequel to my first book, “The Stuffed Cabin”, and the plot was already decided in my head. But there it was: the vision of a dead man lying on his bed, a huge knife sticking out of his back. Yes, I’m odd like that. What should I do about that dead man, who didn’t fit in with the book I was already working on? Darn!
In other words, what story could I weave around this little image?
Now, after I’d published “The Stuffed Cabin” in 2018 (that is, the English version was released in 2019), my boyfriend and I had been heavily brainstorming for a couple of weeks as to creating a new M/M series. Together we had already invented two main characters, a young Italian and a young Frenchie, and had devised how we wanted them to be, physically and psychologically. Alas, our first enthusiasm had petered out at one moment, our creation processes being rather incompatible. BF wants structure, planning, method. I work with organized chaos. Always. So, we had temporarily put our project to rest.
But I remembered it when that idea of the body with the knife appeared in my mind. And what with my looking at photos of our trip to Egypt, I told myself, ‘Hm, let’s see… that could be it…’ As always when ideas strike me like that, I sat down immediately and started typing away on my computer. Lo and behold, half an hour later, the first chapter had written itself apparently out of its own accord. Yes, the Frenchie was there; so was the Italian chap. After that initial thrust, the rest was mere fine-tuning. Who’s the victim? Who’s the murderer (something a murder mystery writer should know from the start, otherwise they’re doomed)? What’s the motive? How can I hide it till the end as to better mislead my readers? How can I make the other characters all look suspect? What’s the link? And how can I mix in a bit of romance, because let’s be honest: a cuter-than-thou Frenchie and a hot-as-they-come Italian dude not falling in love with each other would be a shameful waste, right?
Well, in a nutshell, that’s how this book was created. Just for the record: the photos helped a lot to describe the sites. As for the dust-catchers in my flat… they’re still there, catching dust. Oh, and no. I wasn’t allowed to stand next to the huge statues in Abu Simbel. I’m not Mia Farrow, after all.
About Till Death Do Us Part
When Auntie Agathe invites Raphaël Poireaut, a young Parisian bartender, on a Nile cruise, he isn’t really thrilled. To stare at old stones together with a bunch of old codgers—why, thanks for the gift. Unsurprisingly the trip starts off badly enough. Not only does Raphaël have an unnerving confrontation with a handsome but standoffish and haughty Italian guy, but he has barely stepped on board the cruise ship when he stumbles upon a tourist… who has been stabbed to death.
The young Venetian Stefano di Angeli agrees to spend his vacation in Egypt with his best friend Grazia. He hasn’t had holidays for six years. But his first encounter with a young, angel-faced, curly-haired Frenchie brings back painful memories. Besides, what could be worse to start a Nile cruise than to discover a murder has been committed on board? Cazzo—fate seems to bear him a grudge!
While the Egyptian police led by Colonel Al-Qaïb are investigating the murder, Raphaël and Stefano find themselves swept away by the events… and by the blooming feelings that inexorably draw them closer. Will they manage to sort out the truth from the lies and find the murderer? Will they be able to resist this mutual attraction that seems to overwhelm them against their wills?
A new, funny and light adventure by the author of “The Stuffed Coffin”, the French version of which has won the French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019.
Available at: Amazon
An Excerpt from Till Death Do Us Part
The young guy hears my quiet steps, or he senses my gaze. He turns around.
Oh, hel-lo, man! My heart does a backwards flip. In my job I meet handsome guys aplenty. But this one is a class of his own. His face could be that of a male model, I kid you not. As if one of those unreal guys had stepped out of the glossy pages of Vogue Homme or GQ. Manly features, sensual mouth. Square chin, Roman nose, neatly trimmed designer stubble. His forehead is bare, his dense hair styled backwards and falling behind his left ear in a natural, lazy wave as if doing it spontaneously.
Alas, my immediate interest isn’t shared. On the contrary, he reacts as if suddenly facing a monster. He should be thankful the rail in his back prevents him from moving too far back and falling into the Nile.
Quite a boost for my self-esteem.
The handsome cretin pulls himself together at the last moment and scans me from head to toe. His cold gaze hovers over my naked chest, and he frowns, his eyebrows bushy but perfectly drawn. I notice that his whole body-language exudes barely concealed distance and aversion.
Despite his hostility, I murmur, “Hi”. Somewhat coolly perhaps, but still. I was raised like that. All right, I add “Asshole!” in my head, because, hello?
The young man answers with a nod. A black lock falls over his eyes, he puts it back in place. He seems to hesitate, then turns his back on me again.
Okay, asshole. Go ahead, continue your moody brooding, I don’t care. I don’t need no mens, even if they’re handsome as fuck.
HALF AN HOUR LATER, THE sun has started its race across the pristine sky for good; the heat has risen as well. The hipster slash asshole is still sulking in his corner when I sit on a shady deckchair. Our meeting was unpleasant, but he and the guy in pink belie my initial prognosis, and that’s a good start. We’re at least three on this boat to contemplate our sixties from below.
With the back of my hand, I wipe off the sweat trickling down my chest and soaking my chest hair. I realize I’m thirsty. There’s a bottle of water in the fridge in my cabin. Let’s go get it. You always need to stay hydrated, as Auntie would say. Granted, she means drinks, as in alcoholic beverages, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
The man in the pink tracksuit has apparently seen enough, too. When I get to the top of the stairs, he’s on the last step.
He’s waiting downstairs, holding the door for me.
“Thank you,” I say.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he remarks in an affable tone.
I look up in surprise. His beautifully low voice doesn’t match his puny physique and the mousey face. He makes an affected hand movement. “The landscape, I mean. The light.”
Automatically, I think, Oh. Family. “Very beautiful indeed,” I reply. “And ‘splendid things gleam in the dust’…”
Recognizing the Flaubert-quote, he laughs good-heartedly.
The swinging door closes behind us. Another door slams softly somewhere down the corridor. In the first cabin, I hear a woman say heatedly, “… I think he got it. He won’t bother you anymore, tweety.”
Tweety! Smirk. I really wouldn’t want to be pet-named tweety.
We pass other cabins; the vague noises of conversations, no more than murmurs, drifting out. I can hear showers running as well. The ship is waking up. A nice smell wafts through the corridor, a woody, leathery perfume for men that strikes me as familiar. The pink, mousey guy in front of me must have sprinkled himself with it.
A few doors before mine, the young man stops. “See you later,” he says.
“See you later,” I reply. When I pass behind him, I get a whiff a his pronounced citrus perfume, very fresh, very pungent. Oh. He’s not the source of the leathery perfume smell…
He turns the key and opens the door. “Mon chéri—are you awake?” he asks. The door closes behind him.
I was right. Mon chéri, not ma chérie. He is family. I’m not the only gay guy on this ship.
I walk to my door while rummaging in my shorts pockets. Let’s see… mobile… pencil… notepad… h-m. Where have I put my keys? Did I take them? Damn—don’t tell me I locked myself out…!
A YELL. “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”
I JUMP, turn around, gaze down the empty corridor. What was it? Who was it? Where was it? What am I supposed to do?
“MY GOD! MICHEL!”
A bad feeling bubbles up in my guts.
About Dieter Moitzi
Born in the early 70s, I grew up in a little village in Austria. At the age of 18, I moved to Vienna to get my master’s degree in Political Sciences, French, and Spanish. Today, I’m living in Paris, France, with my boyfriend and work as a graphic designer.
In my spare time, I write, read, cook fancy recipes, take photos, and as often as I can, I travel (Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, the UK, and many more places). My literary tastes are eclectic, ranging from fantasy, murder mysteries, gay romances to dystopian novels, but I won’t say no to poetry or a history book either. I’m more a hoodie/jeans/sneakers kind of guy than a suit-and-tie chap.
So far, I’ve published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. My first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on January 6, 2019 and is also available in German and French. The French version has won the prestigious French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019 (Prix du roman policier – Prix du roman gay 2019). You can also find me on Rainbow Book Reviews, where I write book reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude (for French reviews, have a look at my review site livresgay.fr).