Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73)
This book is part of “The Donald Strachey Mystery Series” which includes fourteen books, the first one being published in 2003. The author, Richard Lipez, AKA Richard Stevenson, is an openly gay author and RPCV Ethiopia, 1962-64. The mystery unfolds in the words of Detective Don Strachey, a droll, intrepid guide who takes the reader step by step in search of the killer of one of “KickAssQueer’s” young editors who have created a gay website for news, gossip and a forum to exchange opinions about GLBT life in America. As the plot artfully unfolds, PI Strachey must determine whether the murderer, and eventually kidnapper of the deceased editor’s companion, a harsh critic, gay or straight, is responsible for the young editor’s death and various other brutal assaults on gay men in and around New York City.
The author’s overseas travel in developing countries, in this case, India, helped him describe the impact of the sultry heat of the Eastern seaboard in August as the “perfect conditions for torpor, gloom, and feelings of helplessness.” He also uses technology in the form of an effect App, to track down cell phone clues which eventually will lead to the perpetrator’s mother, then his brother, and ultimately the killer/kidnapper. r.
The story is well told and never slows down as each chapter reveals one clue or miscue which leads into the next
chapter until eventually the noose is tightened around the madman’s neck. The cover, designed by the author’s longtime companion and sculptor Joe Wheaton seems to depict two lounge chairs on an island where the two editors escaped the hectic life of New York City, with a hook emerging from above that will tear them from their restful setting.The author always manages to dig into contemporary and urgent social concerns, which in this case include how lunatics can access the internet for disturbing and lethal consequences. The author reveals that he finished this novel the day before the massacre at Pulse, the gay club in Orlando. “Part of my story is set in Orlando. I considered moving those scenes elsewhere but decided not to. Although there are dark events in the novel, I wanted to show a more innocent time in the sunny town.”
The author’s reviews and fiction have appeared in the Boston Globe, Newsday, and the Atlantic Monthly. Several of his mysteries are being filmed by “Here”, the first gay TV network. If you like murder mysteries with unique, twisting plots based on real life and timely issues, this is the book for you.
Mark Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) Following an MA degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas in Austin, Mark co-founded a Guatemalan development agency and then managed child sponsorship programs for Plan International in Guatemala, Colombia, and Sierra Leone. Most recently, he completed a fundraising study for the National Peace Corps Association as a VP at Carlton & Co. He is completing his own memoir, Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond.