Richard Stevenson

I lived in Albany, New York for nine months, through a winter when I worked on the construction of a shopping mall, so I appreciate the backgrounds in this series. A smart detective who's also smart-mouthed, with a long-suffering civil servant lover. Like Dave Brandstetter, he's rooted in his community, and a strong sense of the city comes through.

Death Trick        

          St. Martin's 1981          Alyson 1983, 1996

The first in the series, this book introduces us to wise-cracking Don Strachey, who has recently divorced his wife, Brigit, and dating Timmy, though they are living apart. Don is called upon by the parents of a young gay activist suspected of murder. Don's a two-fisted kind of guy and can't resist getting physical-- and not just with the bad guys.

On The Other Hand, Death        

It's a hot, steamy summer in New York's capital city, and a pair of elderly lesbians are refusing to sell their homestead to a shopping mall developer. Their home is vandalized with anti-gay graffiti, and the developer seeks to make goodwill points by hiring Don Strachey to investigate. This book really struck a chord for me because it takes place during the time I lived in Albany, and even mentions the developer I worked for and the mall we built. Don's casual attitude toward sex outside his long-term relationship bothered me a little, though.

          St. Martin's 1984          St. Martin's 1995

Ice Blues        

A good book to read when it's hot outside, as the "chilly scenes of winter" can really cool you down. Somebody leaves a dead body in Don Strachey's trunk, and he has to clear himself. I wonder, though, why Detective Bowman has to be quite so homophobic. Sure, it makes him a good foil for our buddy Don, but it stretches the credibility of their relationship a little too much for me.

         St. Martin's 1986          St. Martin's 1995

Third Man Out        

         St. Martin's 1991          St. Martin's 1993

When Queer Nation activist John Rutka gets shot and his house is firebombed, Don puts aside his distaste for Rutka and starts investigating. Since Rutka has made a habit of outing highly placed gay men, there are all kinds of suspects. Rutka also kept a file on Don's boyfriend Timmy, having observed the only time Timmy ever cheated on Don. There's a nice dynamic to this book, as Don seems to be learning to keep his pants zipped, and Timmy, in character, seems tortured over his indiscretion. Even though the answer was right there in front of me, this one kept me guessing until the end.

Shock To The System        

         St. Martin's 1995          St. Martin's 1996

Everybody seems to want to hire Don to investigate the death of Paul Haig, including his boozy mother, Phyllis, his lover, Larry Bierly, and Dr. Vernon Crockwell, who tried to "cure" both Paul and Larry of their homosexuality. This one, too, kept me in the dark until the final resolution. My favorite quote, Don speaking of Timmy: "It was hell loving a man who got all his values from dead white European males, but to have done such was my complex destiny."

Chain of Fools        

         St. Martin's 1997         

Don and Timmy are back, as Don investigates a family feud that has turned into murder. A brother and sister are both attacked, and Don believes the attacks are linked to their desire to sell the family newspaper. I liked this, especially for the small insights into Don and Timmy's life together. "'That guy was actually trying to kill us!' Timmy blurted out. Under his sunburn, he looked pale and feverish and as vulnerable as I'd ever seen him. A wave rolled through me, and it occurred to me that one day Timmy would die."

 Strachey's Folly    

        St. Martin's 1998

It's a wonder no one has constructed a mystery around the AIDS quilt yet, but leave it to the prolific Stevenson. Maynard Sudbury notices a square memorializing an old lover who isn't dead yet, or even HIV positive, and asks Don Strachey to look into it. Corpses and complications multiply.

Tongue Tied    

        St. Martin's 2003

Eighth in the Don Strachey series. Don investigates attacks on a right-wing "shock jock," a local radio disk jockey.

Death Vows    

       MLR Press 2008

I really liked this book. Don Strachey ranges a little farther afield, into the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is now legal. Don's hired by a couple who are worried that their friend is being taken advantage of by the young man he intends to marry.

But of course, things aren't what they seem. The theme of masks runs throughout the book, adding dimension to the mystery, and Don's just as witty-- and moral-- as ever.

Back to The Gay Mystery Page