A New Strachey That Resonates with Our Times

- A Short Book Review, Mike Learned, RPCV, Malawi

Richard Stevenson Novel

by Richard Stevenson

Longtime LGBT RPCV member (Ethiopia) and contributor to our website, Dick Lipez (writing under his pen name Richard Stevenson) is out with his twelfth Donald Strachey mystery. He began the series 29 years ago. One of the things I’ve always liked about the Strachey mysteries/novels is how Lipez weaves in current cultural upheavals in our LGBT and political world. His latest Red, White, Black and Blue is right on about the current political turmoil staring us in the face. I asked Lipez when he had actually written this latest. Most of it was written late last year (2010) and finished off early this year while he was visiting Thailand with his husband, the sculptor Joe Wheaton.

Much of the story revolves around a somewhat reinvention of New York state politics leading up to the 2010 election. Not only does it include the dark and kinky past of one of the candidates up for the primary election for governor, but the opportunism and manipulation of both the candidate and the Tea Partiers who give him their support. It is as though Lipez was able to predict the vitriolic polarization of the political scene we are now experiencing. Was he looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future?

As one might guess from the title, the dark and kinky events deal with physical abuse, brutalization and exploitation of a vulnerable young man. These revelations spur our protagonist, Donald Strachey, on. He hires a hacker to dig out online information, and impersonates others to dig out the truth.

As always, Don’s longtime partner Timothy Callahan keeps him focused. Tim had been a Peace Corps Volunteer earlier on, so there’s usually a mention of Peace Corps in the books which helps explain Tim’s equanimity and calm. Lipez has been quoted saying about the series that he wants to, “show gay men leading reasonably well-adjusted lives.” Well, reasonably well-adjusted for a long time private eye and his calming partner.

It used to be that the Strachey mysteries were readily available at your local LGBT bookstores. Now that these venues are almost all gone, this new book is available (including a Kindle edition) from Amazon. It looks like all the earlier books in the series are also available. They’re all great reads.

New Website is Modern and Mobile

The new LGBT Peace Corps Alumni website has a modern look and travels well on tablet and mobile phone devices. The new site is built on the wordpress.complatform and therefore is much easier to update and maintain. All editing takes place through a web interface instead of using computer-based software, thus making it easier to post, edit and manage our web content.We have migrated over 120 articles from our old website and provided robust tagging of our content by topics, including more than 40 countries-of-service listings. We look forward to a robust publishing future and encourage our readers to submit articles for consideration.

The new website allows for RSS subscriptions using the POSTS link in the upper right corner of every page and email subscriptions using the SUBSCRIBE list in the right hand navigation bar. The new site will also save us money as we no longer have to pay hosting fees.

Thanks for visiting us and check in often for new content. If you would like to volunteer to help run the new site please contact Kevin Souza at webmaster@lgbrpcv.org.

Strachey is Back at It: Cockeyed – a short review

- Mike Learned, RPCV, Malawi

RPCV Ethiopia, Dick Lipez has just published his eleventh title in his Donald Strachey mystery series. Protagonist Strachey is an Albany, New York private eye. His longtime partner Timothy Callahan had served in the Peace Corps in India. A Peace Corps sort of ethos shows up in almost all the books in the series, usually with pithy remarks from Timmy. Over the years Lipez, who writes as Richard Stevenson (actually his first and middle names), has tackled gay issues of the times: HIV/AIDS, homophobic politics and policing, shock radio, outing, reparative therapy for gays, gay marriage, too much money and fun in Thailand. You name it, Strachey has dealt with it.

Cockeyed stars Strachey’s client Hunny Van Horn, the winner of a huge lottery payout. Hunny (Huntington) Van Horn, a man of a certain age, has been “out” forever and has a skeleton or two in the closet. Sorry, no closet in this man’s life. All of a sudden men from his past are lined up with hands out and threats of exposure. Strachey is hired to be point man. Things get crazier and crazier, but like in most Strachey novels, limited amounts of mayhem and violence. Lipez is a master of the quick and very witty line. In Cockeyed an interesting current gay related theme is the gap between the more assimilated segment of the gay community and the outrageous screaming queen contingent reflected in Hunny and many of his pals. Then there’s all that money. Poor Hunny, his oversight of his new found fortune is as lose as his oversight over every other aspect of his life.

Four of the earlier Strachey books have become made-for-TV films (here!TV) staring Chad Allen: Third Man Out, Shock to the System, On the Other Hand, Death, and Ice Blues. Lipez has recently ended his relationship with here!TV and is out looking for someone to tackle Cockeyed. To me, the delightful and sometimes scary behavior of its many zany characters suggests John Waters.

Cockeyed is now available in a printed or e-version from MLR Press (http://mlrpress.com) or on Amazon.



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