Continuing his quozy (queer cozy) series that began with the critically-acclaimed and quadruple crime fiction award-nominated Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob Osler’s latest—Cirque Du Slay—proves that his winning combination of lovably-relatable characters, play-fair mysteries, and laugh-out-loud humor is way more than just beginner’s luck—it’s his inimitable style on full display.

Cirque Du Slay wastes no time before jumping into its main storyline. Middle school teacher and online dating blogger, Hayden McCall, is supposed to attend the fundraiser hosted by his frenemy, Sarah Lee, when it becomes clear that the scheduled entertainment never arrived. Kennedy Osaka, the new artistic director of Mysterium—a Cirque De Soleil style acrobatic circus—had promised to be the celebrity attraction for the fundraiser, but when she fails to show up, Sarah Lee rushes to her hotel. Great plan, until Kennedy turns up dead and now Sarah Lee is the prime suspect.

As is so common in the cozy mystery subgenre, Hayden and his most unlikely sidekick—Hollister, a Black lesbian sporting a mohawk—decide they have to investigate. The circus is full of quirky and unusual suspects, leading to an investigation that follows several different paths before finding resolution. Along the way, this pair of amateur sleuths find themselves in one precarious situation after another—of both the dangerous and the hilarious kind.

Throughout his narratives, Rob Osler likes to highlight issues of concern for LGBTQ+ people. In Cirque Du Slay, one of those topics revolves around the transgender community and their struggle to be accepted not just in the wider society, but even at times among their own queer population. Hayden exposes his flaws and shows that with kindness and compassion, we can admit our own bias and grow as individuals to be better citizens. Likewise, a less serious topic recounts how Hayden feels an unrequited love for someone and ways of dealing with this in a healthy and non-self-destructive manner.

Rob Osler shows that light-hearted doesn’t mean “lacking in depth.” While most of Cirque Du Slay is silly and over-the-top, its heart is always in the right place. Hayden’s Mates on Dates blog posts are a prime example of blending humor with real lessons in humanity. They always relate to the action within the novel, but they are also the perfect reminder to readers that the issues happening on the page are real-life issues for the LGBTQ+ community.

If you are looking to increase diversity in your cozy reading, pick up Rob Osler’s Hayden & Friends Mystery series. Both Devil’s Chew Toy and Cirque Du Slay provide hours of reading entertainment—but they also confirm that as different as we each are, we are more alike that we can ever imagine.

BUY LINKS: Cirque Du Slay by Rob Osler

Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.