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on May 28, 2015
OK ... so I have to go back and write reviews about the first four books but this one was the best so far. Not to say the others aren't good ... they're all equally great. This one got to me as it is quite tangled and not revealed until very near the end. The mystery is good ... the characters, better. I really like Don and the balance with his lover. If you're expecting sex scenes, these books are for the mystery and the MC. Stevenson is wonderful with his stories and even though he feels some are dated (which to the male gay population, they may be), I find them relevant today. Kernels of truth remain today .... unfortunately. These stories always make me think and feel ... too bad we can't just accept one another. But I digress ... if you want good mysteries, read this series ...ALL of them! On to the next one ...
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on June 28, 2016
Richard Stevenson's PI Don Strachey's often bigoted encounters with the small town citizens of Albany are always entertaining and here specifically tied to the issue of outing. However the arch villain was such a shadowy figure we couldn't get to know him and loathe him enough.
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on November 30, 2014
I liked this book. Would've liked more of the Timmy & Donald relationship, thhey are why I read these books. I like Richard Stevenson' s writting style, but lots of misspelled words. How is it possible that so many misspelled words got by the editor.?
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on March 1, 2017
Good book. Great service.
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on June 25, 2015
A well written thriller in a series. The movie is depicition is excellent Sad to know the series is not going to be extended!
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on September 3, 2015
Good book. I'm in the process of reading all of the Donald Strachey books in the series.
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on September 7, 2012
I'm a great fan of detective novels in general, and this series is among the best. A wonderful twist at the end is a huge surprise. Film version is terrific as well.
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on April 25, 2013
A satisfyingly complicated plot, great cast of characters, realistic setting and behaviour and a snappy ending. Can't ask for more.
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on April 29, 2016
4.5 of 5 stars –
I love gay mysteries and romances, and Richard Stevenson does a good job of combining both in one of the more entertaining such series. I liked this for the same reasons I liked each in the series. In fact, this fourth entry was the best one yet and continued to build the story. With crisp, witty writing, it’s a good mystery, set in the politically-charged early AIDS era, and brought to life by a colorful, hard-boiled yet likable PI, who just happens to be gay.

Stevenson’s style made this a light, entertaining and easy read, with a good plot, pace, tension and just enough details and clues to not slow down the action. I enjoyed the step back in time to the early-‘90s. This was the kind of historical that, at the time, was written as a contemporary piece, capturing moments of what were then current situations and culture. Among the many time capsule tidbits I enjoyed were the clothes, dated technology, and painful and political early AIDS era. And for those interested, it worked well as a standalone, with its own self-contained mystery, while also further developing Strachey, his lover and other secondaries in a way that created a storyline spanning across the series.

What engaged me the most with this story was the character of Don Strachey (who gave his first-person POV), and you’d probably have to like him to like this book. I grew to like him for all his skills, heart and humanness; and it was refreshing that he was not in shame of but was open about being gay. He was hard-boiled, “skeptical,” witty but “sarcastic,” and at times a little off-kilter, including some convenient ethics (e.g., in his own words: using “blackmail, Dirty Harry tactics, and impersonating an FBI agent”). While Strachey was well drawn, the others were not as much. That might be expected with secondaries, but I wished for a little more with some. Thankfully, his lover was fleshed out a little more, as was a new, more accepting police detective (in place of his bigoted local one).

I appreciated that the main focus was on the mystery, with the gay aspect and any romance as a subplot. As Strachey put it in Book 2, ““I’m a PI, yes, and more or less coincidentally gay.” So, instead of being an m/m romance, this was a good mystery with a number of expected as well as unexpected twists, with an ending that was “right under my nose the whole time,” and I loved all the more for it.

In the process, there were a lot of issues going on, but interwoven well. Of the main one, public outing, it was interesting to look back from today’s perspective and see that maybe both sides were right. I liked the many comments evenly divided between pro and con, e.g., “until [people] know that we are everywhere…gay people…can never be accepted or feel safe” vs. “doing unto ourselves as others would do unto us can’t be the answer.” Also, there were the underlying motivations; and for the first time in a Strachey book, AIDS appeared in full force, with its consequent personal pain, dilemmas, injustices, and ironies.

Mixed in with all this was a nice bonus of Strachey’s gay life, and I was pleased to see his relationship continued with his lover, Timmy. It gave Stevenson the chance to further explore the developing relationship for Strachey. It’s an interesting one, reflecting the realities of such things, including working out what kind of a relationship, the struggles, temptations, understanding, and amusing banter between the two. And for those interested, any sex scenes were nicely built but discretely taken offscreen.

This being the best one yet, I continue to enjoy the stories that Stevenson weaves in this series, and I look forward to the next installment.
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on April 13, 2013
I liked this one best so far. The mystery is the main focus, and it's a very good mystery at that with some twists and turns. There are ethical issues that are still relevant today even if they have changed slightly thru the years. There is no drama between Don and Timmy but there are still their usual exchanges and they seem to be in a good place - 14 years into their relationship.
The writing is so good - minimalist witty funny clever turns of phrases that i've come to expect and always appreciate with Stevenson's writing.
Highly recommended!
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