Title: Foxe Tail (Skyler Foxe Mystery #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Haley Walsh (MLR Press)
Publication Date & Length: September 30, 2010 – 288 pgs
Gay teacher Skyler Foxe thought teaching English Lit was murder. Wait till he falls into the real thing.
Skyler Foxe is a brand new English teacher in his hometown of Redlands, CA. He loves literature, loves his students, loves his friends, especially his best friend Detective Sidney Feldman. But he doesn’t love keeping his orientation a secret, afraid of the backlash in this conservative county. But will murder thrust him into unwanted limelight? Who killed his principal’s son outside a gay dance club? And what’s the connection to James Polk High? Is the macho football coach or his mysterious and gorgeous new assistant coach involved? Can Skyler trust anyone at the high school when there seems to be conspiracies around every corner?
I feel like I need a disclaimer to this review: It was slow for me and I usually do not like slow books. If a book does not pull me right in, I find that I struggle through it.
Now, having said that, I did really end up enjoying this story. But, I think that I enjoyed it not because of the main characters, but because of the side characters. I loved Skyler’s SFC. His ex-lovers were all funny, supportive, awesome and always had his back. Then you have Skyler himself. He is an awesome teacher. One of those teachers you really hoped you had in high school. Then you have the strange gym and biology teacher, Keith. He was an enigma for me. The way he is described in the book truly is hot and cold. I never really got a good hold on his character. He seemed to pop in and out of the story at strange times. Not until the very end is anything resolved in terms of his character.
Where I think this book went slightly sideways for me was the mystery aspect of the story. You never really figure it out. I feel like nothing was really resolved in this book. With that being said, I will read the next one because I am hoping to have things cleared up.
Q: Thanks for talking with us today, Skyler. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: Well, my name is Skyler Foxe, I’m twenty-five, I’ve lived all my life in Redlands California, and I’m just finishing up my first year of teaching high school. And it’s been a very challenging year. I don’t know how much to say…
Q: We know about the troubles at the school. And your own, well, coming out…
A: Okay. Right. So that was a load of awesome sauce…not! Actually, it all started when I found my principal’s son at a gay dance club. He was dead. And…well…at that point I didn’t know my principal Wesley Sherman all that well, but it was his son! And I know how my mom would have felt, and I was there when my friend Sidney—she’s a detective with the Redlands Police department—I was there when she had to tell him. That was just awful! And ever since I felt compelled to investigate crimes.
Q: And what happened? Did you solve it?
A: Oh yeah! I had help from my friends…
Q: This is the SFC I’ve heard so much about. Now what exactly does that stand for?
A: Oh. It’s just…a really bad joke that got out of hand. We don’t really have to talk about that, do we?
Q: It’s just that we’ll be using the term frequently in our talk and I wanted to make sure the readers understood.
A: *squirms uncomfortably* Well…it…it stands for the, uh…the… “Skyler Fuck Club.” It’s a not very funny joke that one of my friends Jamie coined—
Q: Is he an SFC member?
A: Yes. I mean…Okay. It means that these guys were once hook-ups and then became friends. Just friends.
Q: And how many is that?
A: Three. No, four now. But that’s it. There’s Jamie Ewing, Philip Price, Rodolfo Gamboa de Guerrero, and Dave Caruthers. I mean that’s the only people we are calling SFC because there’s a lot more, but…uh…can we move on?
Q: Yes. So, the SFC help you solve crimes?
A: I ask them to help sometimes. They are really great at coming when I call. And they’ve gotten me out of scrapes, too. I sort of call them my Scooby Gang.
Q: But let me get this straight. You’re an English Lit teacher, right? At a high school? James Polk High.
A: Yes! It’s the same school I attended, as a matter of fact. Go Polk Panthers! But, uh. I seem to get into all kinds of trouble. Murder and such. I don’t mean to! I really don’t. But they involve people I care about and, well. I’m just not satisfied with what’s called investigating around here. …Don’t tell my friend Sidney I said that. She’s the police detective. Sidney Feldman. We’ve known each other since we were nine and she’s been my best bud all through my childhood and adulthood. She definitely doesn’t like that I investigate but…tough! I do a decent job. I’ve always figured it out even though…well, even though I got into dire straits because of it.
Q: You mean your life was threatened?
A: A couple of times. No, wait. Every time, I guess. Strange what you forget.
Q: Let’s move on. I understand you were in the closet prior to this year.
A: Only to my work colleagues. And my mother. I just didn’t parade it at work but it turns out people knew anyway. And when I was kind of forced out then my mom found out. That was…fun. I know she had to know sometime but it’s not nice to be outed when you didn’t plan it.
Q: How did you deal with it?
A: Well, my friends were there for me. I broke up with my boyfriend for a while because it was his fault, but we got back together and it’s fine now.
Q: And then there’s something about a GSA? What’s that?
A: Now that is the Gay-Straight Alliance at school. It’s for kids who are gay or just gay friendly. Allies. And the gay kids do need allies at school. Not just for protection, but to show the other kids that there’s nothing wrong with being LGBT. I sort of started it. Well, I was in the closet at the time so I didn’t become a sponsor till later. But I’m totally involved now. Mostly because I wish we had had something like that when I was in school, and because of some particular teens in my sophomore class who…well. I don’t know if a teacher is supposed to play favorites but I really connect to those fifteen-year-olds. And there are two boys in my class who…let’s just say they really needed the GSA. And they have excellent friends from that class who support them. I’m really proud of all my kids.
Q: Are there many gay kids there?
A: Oh yeah. You’d be surprised. In every school. No matter where you live, the administration can’t stop you if you want to start a GSA at your school. If you follow all the rules of the school when it comes to starting a club—getting an adult advisor on board like a teacher, coach, or librarian, perhaps forming and submitting a constitution with your application and other rules (check your school manual), then the administration has to allow it. Forming a GSA club is protected under the Federal Equal Access Act.
Under California law, AB 537, your school is legally responsible for protecting you from harassment and discrimination. If you’re looking for all the facts and information and resources for starting a GSA at your school, start at GSAnetwork.org.
Q: Thanks for that. I also understand that you have a relationship with the football coach. Tell us about that.
A: Yeah. Well. It’s not something I was looking for. I was perfectly happy with my current lifestyle. That is, I wasn’t really interested in a boyfriend, settling for one man. I enjoyed hooking up…oh. Wait. Can we edit that part out? I don’t want to come off as a slut or anything.
Q: It’s not really something we do.
A: Oh. Well…shoot. Okay. You know what? I’m not ashamed of it. No one should be! That’s just the way some people are and that’s the way I was. Until Keith. Keith Fletcher. He also teaches biology. I know. Get all the jokes out of your system. But it kind of happened while investigating the strange goings on at the school. And we just…meshed. He’s a real sweet guy and I really like being his boyfriend.
Q: Is it strange dating someone you work with?
A: I don’t really work with him. He’s a football coach and biology teacher. That doesn’t really relate to what I teach. But I know what you mean. It’s nice when we can get together for lunch. I thought at one time it might be too much of a good thing but I like seeing him during the day. I know how sappy that makes me sound, but so be it!
Q: What’s he like?
A: Keith is tall. A foot taller than me, at least, and really good-looking. Broad-shouldered. Kind of built like a linebacker but maybe a bit more svelte. He’s ten years older than me but that doesn’t seem to matter. He’s got black hair and light blue eyes, like a husky’s. And he’s got that permanent beard stubble look which in my opinion is very sexy. He looks pretty much like an underwear model. It embarrasses him when I say that but it’s the truth. My friend Jamie calls him “Hunk-on-a-Stick.” But he’s not all looks.
He’s extremely intelligent and patient, and very athletic. He almost went pro out of college but he hurt his knee, so he went for a biology PhD instead. Pretty dreamy, huh? Smarts and good looks? Yeah, I consider myself pretty lucky.
Q: He sounds wonderful. I’m jealous. Do you think you’ll get involved in more murder investigations?
A: Gosh, I don’t think so. I mean, how many people can I know that will be murdered? Kind of looks suspicious right? Jessica Fletcher did it! Ahem. But in all seriousness, I really have no intention of doing anything like that. I just want to teach school, mentor my kids, and repeat till retirement.
Q: So if something suspicious came along, you wouldn’t investigate?
A: Why? What have you heard? I mean…I don’t know. I guess I might. Never say never and all that. Rudyard Kipling said, “Borrow trouble for yourself, if that’s your nature, but don’t lend it to your neighbours.” I wouldn’t wish trouble on anyone, but if it happens, I’d like to think that I’d be there to help.
Haley Walsh writes the Skyler Foxe Mysteries, a thrilling, humorous, and romantic GLBT romp with men, music, and murder. The books are in print, digital, and now audio! Skyler is in his first year as a high school English teacher in his hometown of Redlands California. It’s tough enough in high school, but try being a young, gay high school teacher in a redneck county in southern California. Of course, Skyler Foxe thought teaching English Lit was murder. Wait till he falls into the real thing. Skyler Foxe Mysteries .com
Haley Walsh tried acting, but decided the actor’s life was not for her. Instead, she became a successful graphic designer in Los Angeles, her hometown. After fifteen years of burning money in the ’80s and early ’90s, she retired from the graphics industry and turned her interests toward writing. She became a freelance newspaper reporter, wrote articles for quirky magazines, published award-winning short stories, and now writes an acclaimed gay mystery series, the Skyler Foxe Mysteries. She’s lived all her life in southern California, sampling wines and chomping chocolate. Yeah, it’s a living.