“Ice Blues”–a gay private detective

Stevenson, Richard. “Ice Blues”, The Haworth Press. 2006.

A Gay Private Detective

Amos Lassen

The Donald Strachey mystery series are great fun. Richard Stevenson has created a series of books that are witty, unpredictable, and sexy. The plots are well developed and the way that the author looks at people is amazing and literate. The writing style is sophisticated and there is always humor to help the reader along, The humor is subtle and Stevenson gives us an entertaining look at gay life.

“Ice Blues” is set in Albany, New York during a very cold winter. Our gay private investigator, Donald Strachey, appears with a frozen corpse in his backseat and wants to know how it got there. So begins one of the most fast-paced detective novels that keeps the reader in the dark until the very end of the book. When Strachey discovers that he is suddenly in possession of two and a half million dollars and is being marked by a criminal who will stop at nothing to get the money. Solving the mystery will cause him to face a political machine, corruption in the city and his own family.

That winter in Albany was very hard and made life miserable for all, but especially for our detective. His car was impounded because it was blocking the removal of snow. When he was finally able to get his car back it was replete with the dead body of someone he hardly knew. Quite naturally the police are anxious to know how it got there and began questioning him unmercifully. It is not just the snow and ice that provided problems for Strachey, ominous threats began to come his way and finally he found suitcases full of cash from the person who lay dead on his backseat. The dead man was a gay political activist and it is impossible to understand how he “ended” up in Strachey’s car. And what about the money? Why did it come to him and where was it from?

The case also involved his lover, Tim Callahan so our detective has a personal stake in solving the mystery. When Strachey has to deal with a corrupt and homophobic political machine as well as avoid dangerous criminals to solve this enigmatic case, he realizes how deeply he is personally involved.

The action is fast and steady and as the plot is unraveled there is a great cast of characters. As you come to terms with the twists and turns and the very funny and clever dialog, you will find yourself enjoying a wonderful read as well as a very strong commentary about the way we live today.

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