- 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.