Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg

Death Trick by Richard Stevenson

(No, not THAT Richard Stevenson. Another one.)

First, let's begin with the hilarious summary from amazon.com, excerpted here for your reading pleasure:

"It's 1979, the height of the post-Stonewall era of gay sexual liberation, and a young man has been brutally murdered. The gay son of a wealthy family has disappeared. Now it's up to private dick Don Strachey to get to the bottom of this mess--even if he has to cruise every gay bar in the city to do it!
Set in the glorious, promiscuous pre-HIV late 1970s, Death Trick is a fast-paced excursion through the seamy underside of gay Albany. From gay discos where the hard-pumping music never stops, to the city's infamous baths, to the dark alley behind the local precinct house, this hard-bitten private dick searches for answers to the questions that plague Billy's parents and the police.
Don't you owe it to yourself to take this trick home tonight?"

Death Trick is a mystery, the first featuring gay detective Donald Strachey. I ran across it because the new installment, Death Vows, is getting good reviews. I am happy to tell you that it is much, much better than the above description would suggest. Notice how they only used the phrase "private dick" twice? How restrained of them. But anyway. What I liked best about this book is that it was a little snapshot of a time and place in the queer community, now gone forever. This is after Stonewall and before AIDS, full of promiscuity and drug use and devil-may-care attitudes, along with such commonplace homophobia as to offend the more modern sensibility.

I enjoyed the witty repartee and the shades of grey morality we find all the characters inhabiting. Most of the pop culture references passed me by. I'm not sure I actually knew that the world had so much disco in it. The ending was nothing like what I anticipated, but it was quite good. If you like queer-themed mysteries, give it a try. Three stars - a C+ in the new system, and I am planning to read the other books in the series.
Tags: books 2008, fiction
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