Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) reviews a new novel by Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) who writes under the pseudonym of Richard Stevenson. The book is entitled, The 38 Million Dollar Smile, and is published by MLR Press. It comes out in September.
If you are looking for a page-turner this Indian Summer, The 38 Million Dollar Smile could be the book. The latest mystery in the Don Strachey series, this book describes the search for a rich American who disappeared in Thailand with his portion of a family fortune ($38 million). Told in first person, filled with slang in the mystery novel format, the story offers the unexpected, as do the previous Don Strachey books. Don Strachey is a gay private detective. In this particular book, he is chosen to search for the missing American by his ex-wife because the missing man was also gay. She believes that the private detective might have better luck asking questions in gay Thai haunts. The author describes such places and intertwines them with plot twists. The key question is whether the missing American has lost the money.
It would not be fair to ruin those twists and turns by divulging the ending. It is fair to say that if mention of the gay life makes you squirm in your chair, this may also be a good choice. It might make you think. The protagonist is a working man who happens to be gay. He also has a long lasting relationship with another man which appears to be filled with kindness and caring. Although we are still a long way from tolerance, this type of book certainly could help.
It is interesting to note that the author was married and has children but has since remarried to a man. A journalist by trade, he has written a number of Don Strachey mysteries and each seems to be a search for the mystery of sexuality. What does it all mean? What better place to look than in the Land of Smiles, known for its congenial acceptance of sexual satisfaction in its various guises?
Lawrence F. Lihosit works as an urban planner. Several of his books and pamphlets are available on-line at www.abookcompany.net.