Murder Garden, published in 2023, is Ron’s eleventh novel. Ted discovers his boyfriend Warren in their backyard garden—dead. Ted soon learns he’s a suspect in Warren’s murder.
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Murder Garden is a Book Excellence Award Finalist in the LGBTQ Fiction category.
Reviews (to read the full review, please click on the link at the end of the excerpt):
A driving plot, immaculately dispersed red herrings, and compelling characters make Fritsch’s latest novel a thoroughly entertaining read. Chicago. 1960. Life is looking good for Ted Linden: he has a rewarding career as a banker, his relationship with 19-year-old Warren Hadley is going steady, and his family is supportive of his homosexual lifestyle. His life turns upside down when after returning from work one evening, he finds Warren dead in the backyard with his throat slit. Though Darrel Hadley, Warren’s hot-headed brother, had recently threatened Warren, the homophobic and bigoted attitudes within the Chicago Police Department make Ted a number one suspect. Detective Tim Conway of Chicago Police Department is a clever detective. But will he be able to look past his preconceived notions and discover the real killer? Fritsch weaves this captivating story with superb skill. He portrays a lively account of the 1960s era, a time of personal and social revolution. Fritsch doesn’t shy away from the era’s politics but doesn’t preach, either. Rather, he examines the lives of gay population who are part of a difficult and often conservative society that devalues their lives and forces them to face discrimination solely based on their sexual orientation. He blends his keen understanding of the human psyche with verve and skill. Told from Ted’s point of view, the novel crackles with energy; Ted, who is a suspect in the beginning, soon joins hands with Conway, fighting blatant bias and discrimination in his pursuit of truth. He is an engaging protagonist with a rich inner life and personal history. His relationships with Warren, Vernon, and his mother and sister are endearing, providing both texture and depth to the vicious crime at the story’s center. The conscientious mystery is satisfying enough, but it’s the increasingly complicated circumstances Ted is subjected to because of his lifestyle that’s most memorable. While the story ends on a tragic note (the conclusion recounts the betrayals and losses that Ted had to suffer), the last paragraph will leave readers cheering for the resilient hero. Throughout, Fritsch confronts issues of familial ties, love, passion, friendship, mental health, and self-love. A brilliantly told authentic story of murder, jealousy, and hatred that will leave an indelible mark. The Prairies Book Review
“From the moment life on [our lovely planet] began, it’s been a murder garden.”
When Ted Linden arrives home one August afternoon after working in his bank job and visiting Chicago’s Art Institute, he finds his cherished young partner, Warren Hadley, sprawled amongst the phlox in his garden with a slashed throat. Just the day before, Warren’s homophobic brother, Darrel, paid the couple a visit and stated angrily that Warren was better off dead than gay. The couple threw Darrel out even as Warren described his brother’s bark as worse than his bite. Surely the murderer must be Darrel, Ted thinks.
After losing his job because of the incident, Ted sticks his own neck out further to openly and publicly declare his love for Warren. But fate takes a strange turn during Darrel’s trial, and Ted belatedly finds himself belatedly pegged by police as the primary suspect. Ted finds it unthinkable that an innocent gay man could be falsely convicted of murder. Despite the physical and circumstantial evidence implicating him in the crime, he resists hiring a lawyer. This slim but evocative LGTBQ murder mystery provides quiet but pointed social commentary about the razor’s edge walked by both closeted gay men and the rare openly gay men of the 1950s and 1960s. The first-person narrative is intimate and draws readers quickly into Ted’s world as he grapples with the nuances of his dilemma. The writing is simple but succinct, with a literary flavor that makes the story feel classic and authentic. Fritsch develops the story and characters in the manner of a placid-looking stream that harbors hidden currents or a devastating undertow that engulfs the unwary. There is power beneath the surface of this story, and the author delivers the terrible blows to Ted Linden’s life with unexpected grace. US Review of Books
A young gay man in 1960s Chicago is wrongfully accused of murder. The author develops the relatively small cast well. The ending packs a punch for an openly gay man in the mid-20th century. Keen characterization drives a thought-provoking crime tale. Kirkus Reviews
Murder Garden is a captivating murder mystery. Homosexuality in the 1960s was difficult and often challenged dominant belief systems and societal norms. Author Ron Fritsch does an excellent job of creating a realistic setting of this period. Murder Garden is a dramatic, thought-provoking novel. The writing style is clear, and the scene setting is believable. Murder Garden is so much more than the everyday whodunit, it is also a noteworthy historical fiction. I believe the strength of Ron Fritsch’s creation lies in accurately depicting the struggles gays faced on the threshold of acceptance and equality. This novel is a well-researched eye-opener that expertly reflects the prejudices and struggles faced by the LGBTQ community. Reader Views