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Michael Nava Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Henry Rios Mysteries Books

Lay Your Sleeping Head / The Little Death (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Goldenboy (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Howtown (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hidden Law (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Death of Friends (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Burning Plain (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rag and Bone (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Carved in Bone (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lies With Man (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Unlived Lives (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
The City of Palaces (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Publication Order of Anthologies

Finale(1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Letter Q(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality?(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Michael Nava is an American lawyer turned thriller, mystery, and gay fiction author. He is best known for the “Henry Rios Mystery” series of novels featuring the lead character Henry Rios, an openly gay criminal defense attorney. His novels have earned him critical acclaim in the Latino and LGBT Communities and been the recipients of the Lambda Literary Awards six times. Michael was raised in Sacramento California, in a predominantly working class Mexican suburb that looked more like a Mexican village than an American neighborhood. He first got interested in writing aged only 12, which was also the time, that he realized that he was gay. He made history in his family as the first ever Nava to attend college when he was admitted to Colorado College, where he engaged in creative writing and literature despite being a history major. It was at Colorado that he honed his writing skills as he mingled with the likes of humorist and writer David Owen and David Mason the poet. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1976, and got a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship that required him to spend time in Madrid and Buenos Aires translating the works of Ruben Dario. After returning to the United States, he went to Stanford Law School where he graduated with a law degree in 1981. He went on to work in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and by 1999, he was part of the staff of the Supreme Court working as a judicial attorney for Justice Carlos R. Moreno. He currently lives in Daly City, California with his partner George Herzog, an oncology nurse.

Having embarked on a writing career ever since he was 12, Nava believes that some people are born to write. As one of those people, he has always seen the world in terms of narratives that are begging to be put on paper. Nonetheless, Michael never set out to become a mystery novel writer or even a fiction writer until after he got out of law school. For most of his teen and his early twenties, he preferred to write and read poetry rather than fiction. He only stopped reading and writing verse in law school since the law had very little to do with poetry. Nonetheless, the urge to write never went away and it was not long before he thought the experiences of a gay man in the law would make for a very interesting narrative. Since it was the late seventies, the LGBT movement had not yet gotten any legs, and hence he got most of his inspiration from the likes of Joseph Hansen who wrote about a gay insurance investigator called David Brandstetter. Brandstetter was one of the very first non-conflicted and openly gay characters to be the lead protagonist of a mystery novel. Unlike many characters in gay fiction of the time, he was an inspiring character as he was a consummate professional, and a responsible, and decent human being living in a world that wanted nothing to do with him. Michael Nava identified with him as a writer and reader, and believed there was space for more protagonists just like him, hence was born Henry Rios.

The Henry Rios Mystery novels feature Henry Rios, a Latino defense lawyer unlike any protagonist to grace American noir fiction. Rios comes with wit, world-weariness, a hyper-commitment, and hyper-attentiveness to the poor and class, and erotic entanglement. In a genre where most LGBT people are generally figures of contempt and ridicule, the novel offers deep insights into gay lives right from the leather bars, cruising parks, and the corridors of power. The first novel in the series that introduced Henry Rios was the critically acclaimed “Little Death” that was followed by six other equally successful titles. The novels depict a time in which Los Angeles was a collection of hostile villages full of brutality, gang violence, riots, mass incarceration, and transformation through gentrification. It was at this time that the LGBT and the Latino community gained prominence as political forces. For the lead character Rios, the most profound issue of the time was the devastation of AIDS. As such, the novels begin as pure whodunits to become a moral portrait of the protagonist’s renewal, despair, and grief in the city he called home.

“The Little Death” is a scathing indictment of the legal system told through the actions of dogged lawyer pursuing justice. Henry Rios met Paris who is in custody after he was found with drugs and high on PCP. Henry Rios is a burnt out defense lawyer who is at the lowest point in life. As a public defender, he wants to get the case done with as fast as possible, but he changes his attitude when he notices that Paris does not look like the typical drug suspect. A mysterious and anonymous man bails him out but he is knocking on Rios door a few weeks later. He is paranoid and skittish and asserts that his rich and powerful grandfather wants to kill him. Rios tries his best to try to get the man clean but when he turns up dead supposedly from an overdose, he is the only one who believes there was foul play involved. Determined to find his new friend’s killers, he investigates some of San Francisco’s most moneyed families to discover a family full of hate, greed, and jealousy. The family or someone in the family is so drunk in fortune that they will kill and kill again for the sake of money and power.

“Golden Boy” is an incredible novel about a defense attorney doing one of the rarest of things: defend a truly innocent client. For Henry Rios this one of the best cases he has ever had to take. He is defending a homosexual man arrested on suspicion of killing one of his colleagues that had threatened to tell everyone of his sexual orientation. Jim Pears vehemently protests his innocence from the charge of first-degree murder, even though the evidence against him is overwhelming. Pears was found holding the murder weapon and covered with the deceased’s blood. However, nothing in this case seems as it should and Rios is determined to find out everything to get the court to dismiss the case. As a gay attorney, Rios is the best man for the job since he can handle the threats and pressure that queers had to face in 80s California. But while he is investigating the most important case in his career, he meets the prosecution’s star witness Josh Mandel, and instantly falls in love. He is now at a crossroads where justice and love could never be more personal.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Michael Nava

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