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Death Trick (Donald Strachey Mystery) Paperback – January 30, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A great lazy-day read." -- The Advocate

"More than just a first-rate murder mystery." -- The New York Native

"Well written and compelling." -- Newsday

Death Trick is one of a select group of mysteries that I reread every couple of years. Its Chandler-esque wisecracks always make me laugh and its late 1970s picture of raucous and exuberant gay nightlife always makes me mourn anew the brevity of that pre-AIDS golden age. In Death Trick, Richard Stevenson, like his contemporaries Robert B. Parker and Sara Para Paretsky, began transforming the traditional politics of the hard-boiled form. -- Maureen Corrigan, Book Critic, "Fresh Air," National Public Radio

Of all the gay mystery writers of the past twenty years, Richard Stevenson is the most underestimated but may be the best of the lot. His books are wise and witty and in Don Strachey he has created a wonderful character who is a lot less dour than most private investigators and a lot more fun to spend time with. I'm glad to see him back in action." -- Michael Nava, Author of the Henry Rios mysteries --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Donald Strachey Mystery
  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: MLR Press; Reissue edition (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934531901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934531907
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
33%
3 star
8%
2 star
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See all 12 customer reviews
Mr. Stevenson's series may give me hope for that.
J. Liles
If you don't mind a few sensual scenes the mystery is well worth the read.
Bryl R. Tyne
The secondary characters are well-written as well.
M. Nix

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on February 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
The year is 1979 and Don Strachey is hired by a wealthy couple to find their son Billy. Billy is wanted for murder, and since both he and Strachey are gay, the detective must have some ideas as to where the young man has fled. Of course, because all gays know each other, right? Soon Strachey is drawn into a complex puzzle as he becomes determined to prove Billy's innocence. Now if he could just find the young man before it's too late. In this lively mystery, Stevenson introduces his plucky detective and spins a great tale that belies the social commentary contained within. "Death Trick" is not only a great example of the mystery genre, but also a compelling slice of gay literary history.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
In the series opener Albany P.I. Donald Strachey takes on a sensational murder case within the gay community--which just happens to be right up his own alley.
The underappreciated Stevenson writes a clever mystery made memorable by his portrait of gay life from over a decade ago (remember bath houses?). Appealing, believable characters (Timothy Callahan, Strachey's Jesuit-educated lover, is a creative gem), and a wicked sense of humor lift this novel "straight" out of the genre category
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Liles on March 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have been searching for a book series like this one for quite a while. I say this for several reasons. First, as a gay man, I am always looking for literature that connects me to who I am as an indiviual. Secondly, I am also a gay private investigator; an apprentice in college, but an investigator. Finding a fictional mystery series that relates to my human side, and connects me with the career I have chosen has been hard, but I have very quickly found admiration for this series and Mr. Stevenson. In fact, in high school, I wrote my own fictional novel about a gay private investigator. I have yet to get the novel published; which I hoped to turn into a series. Mr. Stevenson's series may give me hope for that.

I whole heartedly recommend this series to anyone. The characters are intriguing, with features that attach you to them fairly quickly on; and the plots are sound and thrilling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Nix on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
When Donald Strachey is hired to find a couple's missing son, he immediately knows something strange is going on. The son, William "Billy" Blount, is under suspicion for murder, but the parents don't seem as upset about that as they should be. Strachey agrees to take the case because he needs the money and both the alleged murderer and the victim are gay, but he plans to investigate the murder as well as Billy's disappearance.

Once he begins investigating the case, Strachey realizes it's much more complicated than even he expected. With the police working against him and a murderer on the loose, can Strachey solve the murder before it's too late?

Death Trick is the first Donald Strachey mystery, and while they don't have to be read in order it would probably be nice. I wish I'd had that option, since Death Trick sets up the other books nicely. At any rate, just like all the Strachey mysteries I've read, Death Trick is a twisting, action-packed puzzler of a mystery. The setting, Albany in the late disco era, is fascinating. Strachey, in all his flawed glory, is equally fascinating. He's a mass of contradictions: he wants Timothy, yet monogamy is very difficult for him; he cares about justice but doesn't care how he gets it, and he is ambivalent about his ex-wife. Timothy is his voice of reason, as well as his refuge. The secondary characters are well-written as well.

The mystery kept me guessing throughout the entire book. What I really liked about Death Trick is that, like the other books in the series, Richard Stevenson made me care about Donald Strachey and Timothy despite their flaws and their odd relationship (well, it seems odd to me, but maybe not to a lot of other people!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miner on April 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading the Josh Lanyon books and when I read this book I unwittingly compared the two authors. "Death Tricks" is a first novel in a series and that may make a difference. There were too many minor characters, with little description of their lives and habits. I did not feel I knew them well and it was difficult to keep them separated. I felt the plot was hurried and too slick.

Josh Lanyon's books are more personal and you care what happens to the characters. He writes about their lives, their families and their feelings. His books are more detailed and there was not so much hopping in and out of bed with various men with forgettable sex.

The plot is detailed below.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
between Fire Island and AIDS, this well written mystery (1st in the series of 12) gives a picture of Gay life before so many learned to fear death from unprotected sex. In describing the turn from a closeted "straight" marriage to what is becoming a long-term gay relationship (whereby the author establishes the core emotional relationship which carries the Donald Strachey Dective series forward) Richard Stevenson has his main character say/think,"(it) had been a gift from Bridget's mother back when she still referred to me as 'our Donald' not 'that sneeking fairy.'" He does not belabor the point further,but we get it. Stevenson drops in strategic, well turned phrases throughout, all of which move the several plot lines along to a nice conclusion.

The plot turns on the damage done by "restorative" therapy when homosexuality was widely classified a "mental disease" and mental hospitals and forced psychiactric cures were more widely in vogue. (Although it must be pointed out "restorative" therapies are still not considered illegal in most states nor are they seen as torture in many religious but socially regressive quarters.)

I had purchased the DVD's made from three of Stevenson's mysteries and liked and recommended the DVD's. I finally realized there remained an entire series of mysteries with the same main characters, so I ordered Death Trick to see if I would like the rest. After reading Death Trick, I ordered the others.

Whether you appreciate the "social issues" or just want to savor a good murder, you will admire the skill with which Mr. Stevenson strings you along, provides the "climax", followed by one final twist and then wraps up all the characters in preparation for the next mystery in the onging series.
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