Ice Blues - Richard Stevenson
(3rd Donald Strachey Detective Novel)
This is the third in the Donald Strachey series of detective novels, and I enjoyed this one just as much as the other two. Now well into the 1980s, Donís life is one dominated by AIDS. His extra-curricula activities that were so amusing in the first two novels have been forced to stop. He practices safe sex; he just doesnít want to talk about it. The crime story in this one is very well plotted and holds the attention. Timmy, Donís lover, is still a major feature of the series and their exchanges are my favourite parts of the novels. Timmy is very long-suffering, but Don is certainly worth it!
As with the first two novels, this story is rooted in the gay community of Albany, and once more, Don uses his gay contacts to help solve the mystery.
The homophobic policeman Ned Bowman is back, too, and just as angsty.
Iím off to buy the next three in the series. I highly recommend these novels for a great read where being gay isnít the point of the story, but a fascinating and beautiful side story.
Don Strachey is seriously becoming one of my favourite characters in any book.
Don Stracheyís car gets towed, and when he goes to claim it, thereís a body in the back.† Of course he calls favourite local homicide cop, Detective Lieutenant Ned Bowman.
Don is feeling negative tension at home, bad moodiness affecting his relationship with Timmy Callahan.† Between cases, AIDS cramping lifestyle choices, cold weather blues, boredomÖmorbid self-absorption.† Jack Lenihan turning up dead in his car is a bit of luck- not though for the deceased.†
Lenihanís grandfather Pug was a notorious political godfather.† Don gets a letter from the dead man enlisting his assistance in looking after a large sum of money he planned to use to make amends for the evil deeds of his family.†
Lenihan only met Strachey once, but he was a good judge of character.† Don wants his killer(s), but more than that heís determined to carry out Jackís last wishes, to free Albany from reactionary influencesÖa happier place in which to be gay. And nothing or no one is going to get in his way.
Lenihan had been pretty free with Donís name, so heís got a list of likely suspects.† He and Timmy go into hiding, after threatening phonecalls.† Meanwhile heís responsible for a helluva lot of cash, stashed in 5 suitcases.† Where the money came from is open to question., as Lenihan had worrying connections to powerful drug dealers.
Don stiffens his resolve not to trick by imagining a skull & crossbones on the forehead of every comely gay man he encounters. Like Warren Slonski, Jack Lenihanís prettyboy ex-lover.† Don is now monogamous.† No more knee tremblers for Timmy to rail against.† But itís only fear of the virus, and it still ainít easy.† Heís wickedly scathing about safe sex.† Itís a realistic picture of the impact AIDS had on gay men, making sex something to fear as much as enjoy.† All the more reason to hold onto a steady partner.† Thereís lots of Don & Timmy-time in this book, so very satisfying.
Don is on a quest, his liberal conscience driving ruthless zeal to carry out Jackís last wishes.† Timmy tries to rein in his loverís more unpleasant tendencies.† Nothing is as simple as it appears.† Lenihanís mother, June, in LA is somehow involved, but she wonít talk to anyone.† The bad guys want their loot back, while Don struggles to find someone in a position to affect change willing to accept tainted money.
Yet again Don solves the case with the help of a small army of contacts, gay friends in the right places.† Ned Bowman works with him too, though not so willingly.† Timmy has his part to play in the fight against old fashioned patronage and payoff politics Albany style.† Donís survival is at stake: is civic bloodymindedness worth martyrdom?†
It zips along with relentless pace and much humour.† And through it all, Don & Timmy manage to keep their relationship going, though not much time is spent at home in front of the picture in the fireplace, despite harsh winter weather.† By the end theyíve earned that trip to Patagonia- and why there, youíll need to read the novel to find out!† Unmissable.
St Martin's Press. ISBN: 0312135173
Buy Ice Blues (A Donald Strachey Mystery) from Amazon hereBuy from the States at Lambda Rising Booksellers here