Titles: Death Trick – On the Other Hand, Death – Ice Blues – Third Man Out
Series: The Donald Strachey Mysteries: Books One ~ Four
Author: Richard Stevenson
Publisher: ReQueered Tales
Length: 949 Pages (total)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
At a Glance: For mystery lovers, this is a series you might want to consider picking up; though, fair warning, these are not romance books. Richard Stevenson takes readers along on every step of these investigations. Where the clues follow, danger is not far behind.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurbs: Death Trick: Don Strachey isn’t exactly the most sought-after private eye in Albany, New York. In fact, this gay P.I. has gotten to the point of having to write checks to pay his tab at the cheapest lunch counter in town. And he isn’t sure that the latest one, for the grand total of two dollars and ninety-three cents, is going to clear.
Surprisingly he’s hired to locate Billy Blount, the gay heir to one of Saratoga Springs’ upper-crust families. On top of that, Billy, a young and outspoken gay activist, is wanted for the grizzly murder of the man he slept with on his last night in Albany – a man he’d never met before that night.
On the Other Hand, Death: When the giant Millpond Company finds its plans for a mega-shopping mall stymied by the refusal of an elderly lesbian couple to sell their home, the ladies are subjected to ugly vandalism and frightening death threats.
The powerful director of Millpond in turn hires Don Strachey, Albany’s only gay detective, to protect the ladies, find the culprits, and clear the corporate name. Strachey accepts with misgivings that deepen rapidly as kidnapping, extortion, and murder darken the lives of Albany’s gay community.
Ice Blues: Shocked to discover the body of the grandson of the godfather of Albany’s political machine in his car, P.I. Donald Strachey knows he is in for trouble. But when he learns that the murder victim left a $2.5 million legacy with instructions that it be used to destroy that machine, along with a personal letter to Strachey asking for his help, his suspicions are confirmed. Faced with power-brokers at all levels, Albany’s only gay P.I. tries to fulfill the dead man’s mission-with his own survival at stake.
Third Man Out: After an attempt is made on his life, Queer Nation activist John Rutka asks tough-as-nails gay private detective Don Strachey to provide him with protection. Why does someone want to kill him? The activist’s efforts at outing closeted gay homophobes have earned him a multitude of enraged enemies who would just as soon see him dead.
After Strachey refuses to help, the man’s body is found savagely murdered in apparent retribution for his deeds. Now, because of this, the reluctant Strachey feels obligated to investigate.
Review: The Donald Strachey Mysteries read like a time capsule; not historical novels but books and characters that are a footnote in a point of history in which the dying days of the disco era play like a soundtrack to the story (in Death Trick), to the AIDS epidemic which ushers in a change of ways for Don himself, in his relationship with his partner, Timmy Callahan.
Kudos to Requeered Tales for getting these books back out to a new audience of readers. Richard Stevenson pens fantastically twisting mysteries (On the Other Hand, Death and Ice Blues are the best, in my opinion), and Don Strachey is everything one would expect from a PI: snarky, tenacious, smart, sometimes taking the wrong turn in an investigation but, ultimately, always solving the crime. Unlike John Preston’s super-heroic, superhuman deliverer of vigilante justice, Alex Kane, Don is an average, everyday guy just trying to stay afloat, solve some cases, pay his bills, and maybe even make a difference in a homophobic world. That he and Timmy are often at odds over his methods and reasons for participating in things that Timmy finds ethically questionable, if not morally objectionable, offers more a source of realism in their relationship than it is a liability. They are often at odds, but they also work.
From locating a missing person, to fighting a predatory land developer, to solving a murder that hits too close to home, to refusing to work for a client whose justification for outing closeted gay men is a bridge too far, even for Don, Stevenson takes readers along on every step of these investigations. Where the clues follow, danger is not far behind.
For mystery lovers, this is a series you might want to consider picking up; though, fair warning, these are not romance books. Don is an open relationship kind of guy, while Timmy decidedly is not, but somehow they make their way through those differences. Until, that is, AIDS makes the decision to be monogamous for Don. The Donald Strachey Mysteries are fixed in the not-too-distant past and yet, in some ways, they are also timeless.
You can buy The Donald Strachey Mysteries here: