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The Master of Seacliff Paperback – December 31, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Five Stars ... A finely wrought Gothic thriller with a contemporary twist ... Max Pierce understands the fine art of mystery storytelling, finding that magic of the past great writers who doted on dark old mansions that held their secrets of murder and mayhem much like an old spinster creaking in her attic rocking chair. But Pierce introduces a taboo subject of the time in which he sets this intriguing tale (1899 in America) and in doing so refreshes his story for a new audience of Romance aficionados. He populates his engrossing yarn with handsome men (yes, and women) most of whom appear connected by their closeted sexuality! Pierce writes with such uncanny attention to detail and to keeping the language and atmosphere of 1899 in place that he creates a page-turning thriller that keeps the reader guessing up to the final page. -- Grady Harp, Author, War Songs, Art Essayist and Curator

In the tradition of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, Vincent Virga's Gaywyck, and the classic TV show Dark Shadows, Max Pierce's delightful suspense novel gives us all the rich and romantic elements of the gothic, but with a welcome queer twist. Here are a mysterious mansion above the sea, an innocent tutor, a troubled child, and a series of unsolved murders. And, in the dark character of brooding Duncan Stewart, Pierce gives us the sort of handsome, hirsute, tormented Byronic hero that gay male fans of the gothic either will want to become or will want to ravish -- Jeff Mann, MA, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, English Department, Virginia Tech

Max Pierce has reinvigorated the Gothic novel. Everything you'd expect is there-the handsome, brooding, lord of the manor; the isolated seafront mansion, haunted by tragedy; the naïve young tutor who is determined to solve the mysteries that surround him. Yet by giving this old story a gay twist, Pierce has created something totally new and fascinating. Filled with extravagant writing, dark secrets, and deep passions, The Master of Seacliff is a great read. -- Neil Plakcy, author of Mahu

Max Pierce skillfully walks a difficult tightrope of tone in this delightfully sexy gothic pastiche. He's able to both honor the wildly romantic 19th century novel as well as bringing it up to date with its nod to contemporary sexual honesty. He mixes into his stew dashes of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Turn of The Screw and comes up with a surprisingly original and wholly entertaining work of his own -- Charles Busch is author of the play The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

Sweat-soaked bodies and rippling pecs replace heaving bodices in The Master of Seacliff, Max Pierce's well-written twist on gothic romance novels. . . . Uses the genre's signature concepts as foundation for this skilled homage to Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Victoria Holt novels, and cinematic camp classics. . . . Pierce's ensuing tale offers undercurrents of dominance, discipline and longing as the central characters find ample opportunities to unravel mysteries as well as explore their own destinies, desires and sexual appetites -- Buzz (Andrew Clarke)

About the Author

Max Pierce's love of mystery and horror began with a childhood subscription to Famous Monsters of Filmland and watching countless hours of late-night movies without adult supervision. He explored the world of the vampire as a contributor to the 2005 anthology Blood Lust. As a journalist, he writes on Hollywood history and pop culture. An active member of PEN West, Max led a writing group based out of the landmark A Different Light bookstore.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Harrington Park Pr (December 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560236361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560236368
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,836,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From the Author:

Books opened the doors of my imagination and have captivated me since our third grade teacher read 'Little House in the Big Woods' and the subsequent books in the series to us. I began my own idea of a 'novel' right then and there. I called it 'Little House in California'. (So much for originality.)

I feel blessed to have a writing career, which I began to pursue seriously around 1998. It began as a hobby while I continued my day job as a Senior Executive in the apparel industry.

I write to entertain. If you have chosen to read something I have written, I am humbled. If you liked what you read, I've done my job.

Available now, from Lethe Press, is my next novel, a tale of self-discovery so big it could only take place in Texas. It's a multi-character, multi-plot tale set in the city of Dallas. More specifically, the year is 1983 and a variety of characters find their lives and loves converging AT THE CROSSROADS.

Max Pierce was born in Dallas, Texas. As a journalist, he began writing on Hollywood history in 1999 for CLASSIC IMAGES magazine. He has contributed to numerous anthologies and is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-nominated gothic suspense, THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF. He has called Los Angeles home since 1988.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jak Klinikowski on March 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Gothic mysteries have been around for years, but gay gothic mysteries are a rare breed. In the pantheon of queer literature these novels are few and far between. In fact, off the top of my head, I can think of only one other I've read, Vincent Virga's spellbinding GAYWYCK, originally published in 1980.

In THE MASTER OF SEACLIFF, Max Pierce delivers a classic piece of gothic fiction. All the prerequisites are in place. The large foreboding mansion overlooking the sea, the brooding darkly handsome lord of the manor who may or may not be a murderer, the newly hired fresh faced innocent, and the sinister servant determined to drive the newcomer from the premises.

The year is 1899 and twenty year old Andrew Wyndham travels 200 miles up the Atlantic coast, from his Manhattan home, to take up residence at Seacliff, the large estate of Duncan Stewart. Andrew has agreed to a position as tutor to Duncan's eight year old son, Tim, for the summer. The money he earns will be used to finance his dream of going to Paris to study art.

Duncan Stewart is a wealthy and powerful businessman with an infamous reputation. His father, Gordon, and his father's friend, Albert, were found shot to death at Seacliff eight years prior and prevailing gossip holds Duncan responsible. It's said that Duncan wanted control of the family business and murdered to have it. Officially the deaths are considered a murder-suicide between the two men, but most don't believe it.

This, however, is not the only mystery clouding the situation. Duncan's protégé and secret lover, pianist Steven Charles, disappeared a year before Andrew's arrival and his absence has, once again, brought suspicion upon Duncan.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Max Pierce seems to be a writer to watch. He understands the fine art of mystery storytelling, finding that magic of the past great writers who doted on dark old mansions that held their secrets of murder and mayhem much like an old spinster creaking in her attic rocking chair. But Pierce introduces a taboo subject of the time in which he sets this intriguing tale (1899 in America) and in doing so refreshes his story for a new audience of Romance aficionados. He populates his engrossing yarn with handsome men (yes, and women) most of whom appear connected by their closeted sexuality!

Seacliff, the name of the elegant but darkly invested mansion somewhere along the coast above New York City, hides secrets of two significant murders that happened some eight years before the story begins. The narrator is a young artist Andrew who timidly accepts the role as tutor for the son of the wealthy Duncan Stewart, the virile and powerful scion of the estate whose wife has died without an heir for Duncan (a situation remedied by a quick trip to a gypsy in Paris), replacing a young pianist who left the estate under mysterious circumstances. Gossip and secrets suggest that the murders of Duncan's father and one Albert may have been at the hand of Duncan himself, but other mysteries cloud the mansion: the daughter of the housekeepers apparently committed suicide in a leap off the cliffs when she learned of her beloved's suspicious death; her mute son remains in the household tied to cemetery visits; the butler is inordinately dour and suspicious; the neighboring estate is owned by a brother and sister - the brother being gay and the sister a bit too compassionate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By octobercountry on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was so pleased come across this gay gothic---I enjoy the genre so much, and most particularly those titles that feature a gay twist.

Now, some readers of this novel have complained that it borrows excessively from Victoria Holt's (straight) gothic novel Mistress of Mellyn, as well as Vincent Virga's Gaywyck. This is true enough. I've read both books, and this is particularly similar to Holt's book in several ways. I'll also add that it adds a dash of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca to the mix. And so perhaps I do wish that the plot of "Master of Seacliff" displayed a bit more originality.

But you know what? In the end, I didn't mind all that much that it was derivative. I've come across so few gay gothic titles, that I'm quite happy to add another to my very short list of such books. And let's face it, the gothic novel has been around for over 200 years; take, for example, 1794's The Mysteries of Udolpho (Penguin Classics). Part of the fun of the genre is the way these books trade on hoary old clichés: the young innocent arriving at a palatial mansion shrouded in mystery and gloom, complete with screams in the night, figures half-glimpsed in the mist, unsolved murders from the past casting a pall upon the present... What fun!

Now, the book isn't perfect. Apart from the derivative story-line, there are a few plot points that didn't exactly make sense to me.
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