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Being the Steel Drummer
A Maggie Gale Mystery

the second book in the Maggie Gale Series!

Detective Maggie Gale is back and she’s on the verge of saying - I love you - to her beautiful live-in “inamorata”, college professor Kathryn Anthony, but first Maggie has to solve a murder in the local civil war era cemetery.
When Maggie finds an old journal detailing a hot romance between two 19th century women who lived right in her neighborhood, she works to find the connection between what’s happening in the present to the tragedy that drove the two women apart 140 years ago. A ghostly figure, secret passages, valuable treasure, and trying to find the intimate key to trust and commitment in their relationship all challenge P.I. Maggie Gale and Dr. Kathryn Anthony in this exciting second book in the Maggie Gale Mystery Series. Don’t miss this sexy new novel by critically acclaimed author Liz Bradbury, it’s sure to entertain lovers of both mystery and romance!



Review by Salem West
Being the Steel Drummer by Liz Bradbury
Book:  Being the Steel Drummer
Author:  Liz Bradbury
Publisher:  Lesbian Mystery Books (an imprint of Boudica Publishing, Inc.)

Back during the mid-nineties, I worked for a Beltway Bandit.  If you’re not from the Washington, D.C. area, you may not be familiar with this particular term.  In essence, a Beltway Bandit is any of the myriad consulting companies located in or around the Capitol Beltway, the twelve-lane ring road that surrounds Washington and many of its suburban communities.  Since time immemorial, the press and politicians have demonized Beltway Bandits for preying on the largesse of the U.S. government.  And, while there are more than enough examples of corporate greed and gluttony to warrant this label, people often forget that the Beltway Bandits are staffed by honest, hardworking, underpaid staff who buy into mottos like “better, faster, cheaper,” “doing things that count,” and “we do what we say.”

And, if they’re lucky, they buy into the proffered corporate stock purchase plans, which split repeatedly before being gobbled up by deep-pocketed monopolistic gargantuans like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Halliburton.

But I digress. 

During the mid-nineties, Corporate America jumped on the Diversity Bandwagon.  My particular company established Diversity Counsels at each of its major offices.   These Diversity Counsels looked at each of the employees in the office, and set up education and outreach programs that all staff members could participate in to learn more about the range of differences, and similarities, of the group as a whole.  One of these programs, in particular, stands out for me: The Diversity Potluck. 

The theory was simple: bring something to lunch that somehow represents you.  One of my closest friends was a black man from South Carolina who brought shrimp and grits.  Another coworker, a young woman named Hendricksen, brought a platter of marzipan.  The token flaming queen of the office sashayed in with a quiche and a wire bound history of gay men and their fascination with savory custards.  Me, being a corn-fed, twitchy little dyke, brought a covered dish full of steaming corn casserole. 

The conference room was packed with more than fifty people—everyone brought something to the table, except one man—a delightful scientist with a fascinating accent from Trinidad, named Ramesh.  He simply sat at the back of the room with a plate of grits, a hunk of quiche, and a big smile on his face.  Midway through the lunch, his wife poked her head into the conference room, and we all assumed she was delivering his contribution to our lunch.  He just smiled at her, and nodded as she disappeared the way she had come.  Within seconds, Ramesh’s young son and daughter came marching into the conference room serenading the diverse, marzipan-eating lot of us with a bouncy and melodic steel drum version of “Forged from the Love of Liberty.”  After a solitary lap around the room, the young musicians exited through the door they had entered, and the stunned lot of us blinked a few times, and then thumped Ramesh on the back as we tucked back in to our borscht. 

Note: much to the dismay of young Earc Flannagan, the Scottish nuclear physicist, someone wearing a Tyvek suit, gloves, full mask air purifying respirator, and chemical resistant boot covers, removed his haggis from both the buffet table and the building in an unceremonious fashion.

Detective Maggie Gale is back in Liz Bradbury’s
Being the Steel Drummer.  Set a mere two months after the action-packed events of Angle Food and Devil Dogs, Maggie Gale and her intrepid band of Fenchester Lesbyterians find themselves firmly rooted in a mystery that involves greed, murder, ghosts, neighborhood politics, lost treasure, bawdy sex, middle-age stalkers, Shakespearian verse, and a love affair for the ages.  Through it all, Maggie and her new lover navigate the unfamiliar waters of their relationship, as they test a long-term future thinly veiled as a trial professional partnership.

Being the Steel Drummer is a textbook whodunit, surprisingly wrapped in a rich, lusty romance.  The story is plot-driven and complex, and is focused on a puzzle that spans more than 140 years. Like the classics of the genre, it contains a closed and diverse circle of suspects with means, motive and opportunity for the crime—and a detective, her sidekick, and a loveable Great Dane who come to investigate and, with the help of clues and the power of deduction, discover the real perpetrator, who is rapidly brought to justice after a suspense filled chase.

In fact, it had everything but the line, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling lesbians and your stupid dog!”

In all seriousness,
Being the Steel Drummer is a compelling read, and Liz Bradbury is a master at tweaking the clichés within the genre to produce a novel that fires on all cylinders.  She manages to create a central crime that is the literary equivalent of an M.C. Escher drawing, complete with intricate algorithms and tessellation patterns.  The big bad is introduced early and the plot devices, clues, and red herrings are almost impossible to differentiate until all the pieces began sliding into place as Maggie Gale explains how she solved the crime.  Most pleasing is how the author resolves the myriad subplots by the end of the novel, and nothing is left hanging.

Beyond the classic whodunit, Ms. Bradbury also treats readers to a gripping and sensual love story between two women in post Civil War America.  This story line is equal parts sweet, savory, sexy, and heartbreaking—and includes its own mini mystery that, true to form, is solved by the irrepressible Maggie Gale.  The more modern love story between Maggie and her inamorata, Dr. Kathryn Anthony, cleverly and keenly illustrates the similarities and differences between sex and sexuality across the ages. 

If there is any one place I would make a red mark on
Being the Steel Drummer—it’s in the grammatically correct but overly formal dialogue.  Don’t get me wrong, Maggie Gale, for the most part, talks like an ex-cop-cum-private dick.  But occasionally, and I mean occasionally, she throws out lines over morning coffee like, “But shall we call it tenaciousness?  Then it’s more of a virtue.”  And, during what can arguably be described as one of the most well written bondage scenes in all of lesbian literature, the intrepid Ms. Gale “shalls” her way into infamy and near exhaustion.

For the record, “shall” is not sexy.  Ever. Okay, maybe if Elizabeth Bennet says it….

Be that as it may, Being the Steel Drummer is one of the very best whodunits to hit the bookshelves this year.  It’s well written, well plotted, intricate, and inventive, and it makes you anxious to read the next work-in-progress in the Maggie Gale Series—C-Notes and Ski Nose.  If you’re a fan of mysteries or you love solving puzzles, this is one book you won’t want to miss. Liz Bradbury is a talented author and a driven activist, and I salute her occasional shout-outs to GLBT rights within the pages of Being the Steel Drummer.  

I’m giving this crafty little whodunit a 5.0 out of 6.0 on the Rainbow Scale, with an additional 0.1 because I waited four long years for the follow up to
Angel Food and Devil Dogs

That’s an overall rating of 5.1.


A Featured Review of Angel Food Devil Dogs
Reviews By Terry at Affinity Books

The first in the Maggie Gale mystery series
Ex police officer Maggie Gale has started up her own Private detective business. She is currently investigating a case on behalf of her sister Sara, a lawyer. Childlike Mickey Murphy, has been accused of murder. A murder both Sara and her law partner Emma are sure he didn’t commit.
When Maggie receives a phone call from the President of Irwin College, Max Bouchet, she finds herself with two cases to solve. Max needs Maggie to investigate the apparent suicide of blind music professor, Carl Rasmus.
Once Maggie begins her investigation, a spree of murder, attempted murder and injuries begins to mount up. Maggie has no idea in the beginning if a murder has been committed and if it has, who the murderer is likely to be. It soon becomes apparent though that Carl was murdered. There are several likely suspects.
It’s during the course of her investigation that Maggie meets Doctor Kathryn Anthony, known to her students as the Ice Queen. Maggie is fascinated and greatly attracted to Kathryn. It’s just as well that Kathryn is not a suspect and has a cast iron alibi for the time of Carl’s murder and other nasty happenings.
Maggie and Kathryn soon become lovers. Together they begin to unravel the mystery surrounding Carl’s death and other events. But Maggie has been totally looking at the wrong person as a suspect. Could Maggie become the next victim? Will Maggie discover the blunder she’s made in time to save her life or that of others?


This is Maggie Gale’s first outing as a private detective and what an outing it is. This book is superb and wonderfully well written. Full of mystery, intrigue and a real page turner right the way through. I simply couldn’t put this book down once I’d started it. So, be warned, allow a whole day of leisure to read it.
I love the characters, Maggie and Kathryn. They are backed up by a strong cast of characters each playing their parts to perfection to progress the story forward to it’s climatic conclusion. The book is full of twists and turns along the way. Just when I thought I knew who the perpetrator was, so I found that I was wrong. I’m usually quite good at guessing, but I didn’t see the ending at all until right at the last minute.
Although there are lots of different characters in this book, I didn’t find it hard to keep up with them or get confused. Liz Bradbury has a great way of writing the dialogue so that I knew at all times what was happening and who was speaking. From the descriptive dialogue, it was easy to fall right in to the story and visualize myself amongst the characters as the story unfolded.
The book mainly focuses on the murder of Carl Rasmus, but along the way, Maggie does find time to solve the case against Mickey Murphy.
Even though this book is a mystery, there is a nice slow burning romance amid all the grim occurrences. This lightens up the tone of the book, plus adds a nice touch of humor throughout too. As the passion heats up, the book almost ignites. So, yes, it’s hot too. An added bonus.
I’m very much looking forward to reading the next in this series. Fortunately, I already have the book, so no waiting. 

From Latest Lesbian Book On My Nightstand | Card Carrying Lesbian - Sasha Lortrian -- “The latest lesbian novel by Liz Bradbury is out and a perfect summer time read. It has a bit for everyone: romance, mystery, more lesbian characters then just the main one or two... (Bradbury) builds an entire world for you that’s very authentic for an out lesbian to be living in.

Valley Gay Press Book Review - Sheryl Schulte
May-June 2012 Issue
Being the Steel Drummer - A Maggie Gale Mystery (Maggie Gale Mystery Series)
Being the Steel Drummer - A Maggie Gale Mystery: Compelling romance and complex mystery - equals five stars!
Liz Bradbury's skillfully written second lesbian mystery/romance in the Maggie Gale series unfolds in twists and turns both literally and figuratively. Maggie and her new "inamorata" Dr. Kathryn Anthony continue to explore their relationship, which is verging rather precariously on serious commitment, as they investigate a murder in the town cemetery, secret passages, a vast library archive, and in the 130-year-old past. The author's ability to weave the art world and lesbian herstory into a well played out murder in classic who-done-it style, makes this a must read for mystery buffs. But, whether you crave the mystery genre or not, the compelling characters, the electric dialog, the fascinating details of the past, and the intimate tension and smoldering bedroom scenes of the present, will leave no one unsatisfied. Don't miss this exciting new novel!


Smart Sexy Lesbian Mystery, May 31, 2012
G. Uhl "Allons-y (VINE VOICE)   

This review is from: Being the Steel Drummer: A Maggie Gale Mystery (Paperback)
Being the Steel Drummer - A Maggie Gale Mystery - Liz Bradbury

Being the Steel Drummer is a well-organized and logically constructed mystery. The mystery is intertwined with a modern day lesbian romance as well as a provocative historical drama involving one of the most fascinating real life lesbians that I've ever come across. For me, what makes this book better than just good is the balance and proportion of all these elements.

As far as the mystery goes there is a strong Agatha Christie vibe with a smidge of Nancy Drew. It is clever and complex and would appeal to any fan of mysteries, lesbian or otherwise. The romance and erotic aspects of the book take place in modern times and also around 1875. Regardless of the setting, all the sexy bits are smoking hot and extremely well written.

This is the 2nd book in the Maggie Gale series. I enjoyed the first book, Angel Food and Devil Dogs, and this second book is even better. It is not necessary to read the books in sequential order. There are references to events and reoccurring characters from the first book but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend reading book 2 first.

It's rare that I prefer the hard copy of a book to the kindle copy but in this case I have to say that the hard copy wins. The cover of the first book in the series is red and this cover is orange. As the series continues (A, B the next title says it begins with C) the books are bound to form a rainbow on the book shelf. Luckily this is an Amazon Prime selection and since the Kindle version can be had for free, there is no reason not to buy the paperback as well.

The photos on the book cover compliment the story and there is a hand drawn map inside the cover as well. These are two more reasons I like the paperback version better. Although on the Kindle Fire I could zoom in and move the map around.


Reviews of
Angel Food and Devil Dogs


Angel Food and Devil Dogs - A Maggie Gale Mystery
made Curve Magazine's
20 top picks for Lesbian Mysteries in
"Lesbian Books for Spring: More Than 150 Fascinating Finds"

Click Here To Read The List

June 2009: Angel Food and Devil Dogs - A Maggie Gale Mystery
is a finalist in both the mystery and debut author categories for Golden Crown Literary Awards!!!

--- it's perfect. From Out Smart Houston -- Arts & Entertainment - READOUT
From Out Smart Houston -- Arts & Entertainment - READOUT
May 2009
Angel Food and Devil Dogs
Liz Bradbury
Boudica Publishing (

Liz Bradbury brings us a delightful new lesbian detective, Maggie Gale (love the name). Well plotted and fun, this book might be the best first novel of the season. Off we go on a delightful romp, reminiscent of the days when girl-detective novels were fun and the biggest mystery was if the lust would light off before the story was over. Set this one aside for a summer afternoon beach read — it's perfect.
— Review: A.C.
Click here to see this review

OutSmart is the Houston-based magazine for the gay, lesbian, bi, and trans market.Published by Up & Out Communications, the award-winning general-interest monthly marked its tenth year of publication in February 2004. OutSmart is distributed at no charge across the metropolitan area through community organizations, restaurants, nightclubs, and retail stores. There are also distribution points in the nearby cities of Galveston, Beaumont, Conroe, Clear Lake City, and Spring. OutSmart also maintains select distribution in additional cities across Texas, which presently include Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Longview, and College Station. The magazine is available by subscription. Readership is 60,000, and circulation is confirmed by Verified Audit Circulation.

From -- Reviews of Books from the web site of Catherine M. Wilson - Author of the "When Women Were Warriors" Trilogy
February, 2009
Angel Food and Devil Dogs: Stuff I like
.. Angel Food and Devil Dogs is more than just a mystery. The mystery part was fine. I guessed just enough not to feel stupid and missed just enough not to be disappointed.
It’s the rest of it, though, that I enjoyed so much. The main character, Maggie Gale, is multi-talented and multi-faceted, strong, skilled, smart--admirable, but not too perfect. The other characters, and there are a lot of them, are so well-drawn and distinctive that I had no trouble following this cast of dozens.
The best part, though, was the relationship at the heart of the story. It felt true, and to me, the working out of intimate relationships is the real mystery ...
Read the whole Review at Catherine M. Wilson Books by Clicking Here

From --Rainbow Reviews December, 2008
Angel Food and Devil Dogs gets five stars from Rainbow Reviews:
“...(t)he novel is rich in romance, long-term love and genuine affection...”
“...(t)he author is skillfully able to weave in multiple subplots...”

“...a multilayered mystery certain to captivate all readers...” - Rainbow Reviews
Read the whole Review at Rainbow Reviews by Clicking here!

From --Lesbiatopia's, Book Reviewer Extraordinaire - Cindy Rodriguez
Angel Food and Devil Dogs reviewed on Lesbiatopia:
"Liz Bradbury's debut novel Angel Food and Devil Dogs definitely hits it's mark as being the classic mystery "who-done-it" combined with some imaginative, amazingly sensual, erotic lesbian romance, (which is very tastefully written without jeorpardizing the steaminess)." - Lesbiatopia Book Review
Read the whole Review at Lesbiatopia

From --Gaydar Magazine
Angel Food and Devil Dogs featured in the Summer, 2008 issue of Gaydar Magazine:
"It's both a classic who-done-it style mystery and a hot lesbian romance. Who could ask for anything more!?!" - Gaydar Magazine
Read the whole Interview in Gaydar Magazine by clicking here.

From the Valley Gay Press Book Review:
Angel Food and Devil Dogs -- Read and become a part of this highly stimulating, brilliantly written novel. You won’t be disappointed!

When was the last time you read a tightly plotted mystery...that actually had a lesbian main character... who is pursuing and being pursued by another lesbian character...for more than just the vague mention of a relationship?

While Private Detective Maggie Gale is working on a case with her younger sister, attorney Sara Martinez, Maggie is called to Irwin College, to investigate the suspicious death of music professor Carl Rasmus. These two complex mysteries each strike deep emotional chords in this surprisingly artistic Private Eye.

As Maggie begins to encounter the cast of quirky, well-drawn suspects; enter...Dr. Kathryn Anthony. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, sexy, smart...entrancing...a Muse-- Kathryn beckons, and Maggie follows:

“She faced me for what seemed like an age, but what was probably a second. She took a breath, then she made a soft demand, 'Undress me.' That's something you'll be remembering for the rest of your life, flashed through my mind. I hadn't expected anything so specific. My legs almost gave way. I reached for the top button of her shirt. My hands were trembling. I undid two. She put her hand on the back of my neck and pulled me toward her for a long passionate kiss. Her lips were deliciously soft. She tasted wonderful, like everything I'd ever wanted.”

The sexual tension builds as the mysteries weave dangerously, keeping you guessing, with Maggie and Kathryn caught right in the middle.

If you are looking for sex, romance, and intrigue (and who isn't) then you’ve come to the right place. Author Liz Bradbury has infused her savvy protagonist, with strength, humor, passion, intelligence and the awareness that her life is missing something. The result? Maggie has become one of my all-time favorite characters. I’m hoping this series goes on for at least a dozen more volumes.

-- MaryEllen Elizabeth, Valley Gay Press Book Review

From Lesbian Quarterly Review:
A Book Review by Jeanette Nelson
"the character and story are engaging, making for a fun read."
Click here to read the whole review:

Mainstream Mystery Novel site Mysterious Reviews and Hidden Staircase Mystery Books Rates Angel Food and Devil Dogs:

Four Magnifying Glasses (A four star review!)
"Maggie Gale is a multi-dimensional character who takes her job and her relationships seriously. Being a former cop, she understands the investigative process and she steps right in when a life is in jeopardy, endangering herself as well. Her developing relationship with a college faculty member, Dr. Kathryn Anthony, is sweetly told, and even better for the book, is an integral part of the mystery. The clues to the explanation behind Rasmus' suicide are peppered throughout, and Maggie cleverly pieces them together to discover the who, how, and why." -- From Mysterious Reviews and Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
Click here to see the whole review

Customer Reviews at Amazon

Five Star -- By M. Kohn "melinda knits"
"Like an Agatha Christie Mystery with Passionate Lesbian Romance ... "
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star-- By R. Meek
"A totally enjoyable read. Once I sat down with it, I had to read until it was finished ... "
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star -- By G.Uhl
"My favorite parts were the steamy scenes with Maggie and Kathryn. It is really hot stuff ... Along with the dead bodies and girls kissing, the book is laugh out loud funny at times ... "
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star -- my heart was pounding! , June 28, 2008
By Anne Huey
(Allentown, PA)   
“This is a well-written mystery that will keep you guessing, have you wondering about who dunnit, and will have your heart pounding too as the pieces of the puzzle begin falling into place! You'll find humor, romance, friendship and the interweaving threads of crimes and mystery. I enjoyed this as my 'beach read' this summer!”
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star -- By A'Ja Lyons (Houston, Tx)
"definitely a must read. funny, hot lesbian sex scene, and nice twists and turns. don't try to guess who the murderer is, you won't have a clue. the author really out did herself."
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star -- By Wrickton (NYC USA)
“... Gay or not, there's nobody out there cooler than Maggie Gale.
She knows how to dodge bullets, deflect a punch, solve crimes with her subconscious, pour a cup of tea, pick the right china for a date, pull people out of burning wreckage, quote the perfect poetry for a romantic moment, be smarter than people without challenging their self-esteem, shovel snow in the middle of the night, rennovate a building, maintain strong friendships and community ties, identify a rothko, and make love (exquisitely).
And when you read this book, there she is. The uber-cool friend who makes your life more fun and interesting ...”
Read the rest by clicking here

Five Star -- Angel Food and Devil Dogs, May 5, 2009
By Lynn Glover "gloves"
(Cincinnati, Ohio)  
"I have read lots of mysteries and I found that they were all becoming about the same.That is until I read this book. I LOVED IT!!!! The mystery part kept you guessing until the very end.I loved the characters and how they all intertwined. This is the type of book that when it is over you are very disappointed. Run don't walk and get this book. It is well worth every penny you spend. I hope that Liz Bradbury writes a sequel very soon.
Read the rest by clicking here

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