Books by Richard Stevenson

TONGUE TIED by Richard Stevenson
Released: March 12, 2003

"No homicides or explicit sex, but rated PG-13 for politically insensitive speech, poop jokes (and actual poop), maimings, amputations, and the licentious and demeaning use of a tattoo gun."
Who does a New York City radio shock-jock well-known for his anti-PC invective call when he becomes the target of a stinky harassing campaign for which a long-moribund gay rights group claims responsibility? Gay Albany shamus Donald Strachey, of course, because the ties he had to FFF—the Forces of Free Faggotry—back in the 1970s will give him an inside track against those Forces threatening to besmirch Jay ("J-Bird") Plankton's pristine image. The only problems are (1) that FFF effectively disbanded 20 years ago—the few surviving members Strachey can find, equable New Jersey Amish farmer Thad Diefendorfer and ex-firebrand Kurt Zinsser, reborn as the neoconservative manufacturer of Woolly Llama Cheese, pooh-pooh the idea that their old chums could be involved—and (2) that whoever's behind the nefarious plot doesn't stay content with dirty tricks for long but rapidly escalates to kidnapping Leo Moyle, the J-Bird sidekick who specializes in gay-baiting, and then exchanging him for an even-higher-profile victim. Joining forces with tempting Thad to rescue the abductee with or without the help of New York's most closeted, Strachey soon finds himself in over his head. The rollicking mystery isn't up to much, but it does give Stevenson (Strachey's Folly,1998, etc.) the chance for dozens of sharp digs, and a few more telling ruminations, about sexual-preference politics back in the last days before the 2000 elections. Read full book review >
STRACHEY'S FOLLY by Richard Stevenson
Released: July 9, 1998

No doubt it's an honor to have your square included in the AIDS Memorial Quilt, but one Maynard Sudbury thinks it's a little premature in the case of his long-ago lover Jim Suter ("1956-1996"), who isn't dead yet, or even HIV-positive. And Maynard's friend Donald Strachey (Chain of Fools, 1996, etc.) can't help wondering about the import of one design element in Jim's square—several pages of Jim's old campaign bio of right-wing Pennsylvania Congresswoman Betty Krumfutz, especially when Krumfutz is spotted surreptitiously ripping the pages from the square, and Maynard, a foreign correspondent who's survived Hanoi and Beirut, is shot outside his D.C. apartment later that day. Who could've been in such a hurry to bury Jim Suter? Strachey and his lover Timmy Callahan take a closer look at the background of this marvelously unprincipled writer-for-hire and discover any number of people, sporting a nicely variegated bunch of motives, who'd lift a cheerful glass to his passing. In fact, the main mystery here, given the number of corpses past and future—Stevenson is still spinning out complications as the final curtain's descending—may be why Jim Suter hasn't died yet. Solid, satisfyingly paranoid plotting, marred only by its tendency to save the juiciest secrets for the very last act. Read full book review >
CHAIN OF FOOLS by Richard Stevenson
Released: Nov. 14, 1996

Let Albany shamus Donald Strachey introduce the Osbornes: ``A distinguished New York State family whose members apparently were trying to kill one another off for reasons of ideology and/or cash.'' A forced sale of the family newspaper has turned the liberal Osbornes—editor Janet, nature writer Eric, crackpot left-wing publisher Dan, and their mother Ruth, clinging to the frayed edge of sanity—against their insurgent conservative wing- -broker Chester, his self-righteous sister June, and their equally stuffy spouses, toadies, and hangers-on. The question is: Which of two buyers to sell the ailing Edensburg Herald to? Eric has already been murdered, and when Janet barely survives an assault by a jet ski—a second episode ends up breaking the foot of Dan's lover, Timmy Callahan—it looks like somebody's trying to rig the election by retiring the liberals and mandating the appointment of more conservatives in their stead. The available replacement candidates: June's son Tidy, a 24-karat twerp; Tidy's brother Tacker, who ran off to the South Seas years ago; and Chester's sociopathic son Craig, now doing hard time in Attica for robbery and murder. Eventually, Don's investigation takes him to Attica—where Craig tells a wild tale that makes Don regard the Osborne clan even more suspiciously. Stevenson's sixth (Shock to the System, 1995, etc.) manages to bring new urgency to the crazy-family scenario by loading the Osborne branches with the rottenest fruit imaginable. They're enough to make you pack Uzis and hand grenades for your next family reunion. Read full book review >
SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM by Richard Stevenson
Released: Dec. 12, 1995

Three clients all want gay Albany p.i. Donald Strachey (Third Man Out, 1991, etc.) to take a closer look at Paul Haig's apparent suicide, but they each have a different agenda. Paul's mother, Phyllis, emerges from an alcoholic fog just long enough to ask Don to prove that her son was killed by Larry Bierly, his lover and heir. Bierly wants him to prove that Paul was really killed by Dr. Vernon Crockwell, the crackpot psychiatrist who was bent on curing them both of being gay. And Crockwell waves a check in self-defense, offering to hire Don to exonerate him, preferably by proving that Paul didn't kill himself. It's a no- lose situation, says Don, before Bierly gets shot in a parking lot and pulls Don off the case—followed in short order by the other two clients. Why has everybody lost interest in Paul's death at once? What was the secret about Crockwell's aversive- therapy group that Bierly's friend Steven St. James told Don ``you don't want to know''? And which member of the group—which aspiring heterosexual or intractable homosexual—applied his own brand of aversive therapy to Paul? All right, the solution isn't as memorable as the characters' antigay invective. Stevenson's real coup here is his memorably varied cast of suspects, with nothing in common but their sexual orientation. Read full book review >
THIRD MAN OUT by Richard Stevenson
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

When gay activist John Rutka engineers his own endangerment to generate sympathy and business for his ``outing'' publication, it backfires: Gay p.i. Don Strachey (Ice Blues, etc.) quickly quits bodyguarding him, and one of Rutka's many enemies takes the opportunity to kidnap him and burn him so badly that it takes forensic dentistry to identify the body. Which closet gay wanted to protect his own homosexual exposure? Rutka's files lead to a TV newscaster, a politician's aide, and someone referred to only as ``All-American Asshole Mega-Hypocrite,'' a man Strachey ties in to weekly trysts with the newscaster at a hot-sheets motel. Meanwhile, Strachey and boyfriend Tim make regular hospital visits to a comatose AIDS friend, grapple with the concept of assisted-death, and Strachey finally connects a VIP with Rutka's files—for a too- pat ending involving pedophilia, coincidences par excellence, and impropriety from several clerics. The too-telegraphed plot undercuts some very nice views of Albany and a wry, unconventional shamus-sleuth. Stevenson is adept at handling people and places—now he needs a workable rather than workmanlike plot to put them through their paces. Read full book review >