SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM by Richard Stevenson


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 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.

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13610-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1995


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