Long-time Book World freelance reviewer Dick Lipez, with two of his Donald Strachey mysteries, which will be released later this month. (Author photo courtesy of Joe Wheaton; book covers courtesy of ReQueered Tales)
Richard “Dick” Lipez,(Ethiopia 1962-64) whose freelance work appeared in The Washington Post for more than 30 years, was a good friend to Book World and a trusted reviewer for our readers. Dick died this week at his home in Becket, Mass. He was 83.
My colleague Nora Krug looked forward to editing him, both for the pleasure of his essays and the charm of his emails. “All of his reviews were witty and wise,” she says. “He always had something insightful and droll to say about every book, even ones he didn’t like.” (His most recent round-up of new thrillers and mysteries ran last week.)
Dick was not only an astute critic of mysteries; under the pseudonym Richard Stevenson, he wrote more than a dozen novels about a private eye named Donald Strachey. The award-winning series was also a pioneering work of gay fiction. Dick once told a critic that he wanted Strachey to be a contented gay man, in contrast to Joseph Hansen’s tormented gay detective, Dave Brandstetter. Four of the Donald Strachey novels were adapted into TV movies starring Chad Allen. Later this month, ReQueered Tales will begin reissuing the entire series, including the final, never before published volume, “Chasing Rembrandt.”
Maureen Corrigan, who reviews mysteries for us and NPR, was already a fan when she reviewed “Chain of Fools” for The Post in 1996 (review). “I loved Dick’s wit,” she tells me, “his socially pointed storylines, and his portrayal of Strachey’s exuberant and loving relationship with his longtime partner, Timmy Callahan.” Later, Dick sent Corrigan a grateful note, she wrote back, and they began regularly corresponding. “Thus, out of that first book review,” Corrigan says, “a beautiful, laughter-filled, decades-long friendship was born — one of the most precious of my life.”
In April, Amble Press will issue what was to be the first book in a new series by Richard Stevenson called Knock Off the Hat: A Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery.
Just last week, Dick told Nora, “One thing about my dire situation that drives me nuts is I still have story ideas that I won’t get to fool around with and maybe turn into something. Though I was recently reminded that Gershwin died at 37 and I should not complain. Or compare myself to Gershwin.” As usual, he ended on the perfect note.