Don Strachey

Created by Richard Stevenson
Pseudonym of Richard Lipez
(1938-2022)

Albany, New York private peeper DON STRACHEY is openly gay, a younger (forty-something) more emotional, and slightly flakier persona than Joseph Hansen’s middle-aged, controlled Dave Brandstetter. Where Dave is calm and collected, Don is flippant, sassy, sloppy, paranoid, compulsive, impulsive and prone to plots and plans. And sometimes just plain screwy. In other words, not particularly well-adjusted, although he is loyal to his friends, and he’s not a complete write-off as a private eye.

And he gets better. In fact, it’s one of the charms of the series to see Strachey develop both emotionally and professionally through the books.

Aiding him in his cases is his live-in lover (and sometime-conscience) Timothy J. Callahan, a strait-laced, Jesuit-trained attorney working for the state government, and later as a legislative aide for a New York senator, who plays Nora to Strachey’s Nick–or is it the other way around?

Also lending a hand are various friends and acquaintances in Albany’s surprisingly large gay network.

Albany?

Who knew?

Don also receives some rather reluctant help from gruff, conservative, homophobic and not-quite-the-sharpest-knife-in-the-drawer Detective Lieutenant Ned Bowman of the Albany Police, “a man in love with the obvious,” according to Don. But then, he adds “homosexuals not wearing pleated skirts always confused Bowman.”

What there is no confusion about is the quality of this series. Stevenson is simply one hell of a writer.

As a friend of mine once opined, “I’m not even gay–not that there’s anything wrong with that–but I think these are some of the funniest, smartest PI novels around. The guy is just a terrific writer! Maybe even brilliant.”

In the 2000s, there were even several made-for-television films with aired on the Here! network (“Gay television. No apologies.”), starring hunky Chad Allan as Strachey. Although low-budget, and with Vancouver, British Columbia (!) standing in for Albany, the movies received generally good reviews, prompting The New York Times to tag A Shock to the System (2006)  “a sly, refreshingly grown-up gay entertainment” and Out Magazine to proclaim “Chad Allan “Hotter than Columbo. Way, way hotter.”

And you’ve got to just love when Here! refers to Morgan Fairchild, who co-stars in one of the film as the “television diva and icon.”

Who knew? 

Author Richard Stevenson also reviews crime fiction for The Washington Post under the byline of Richard Lipez.

 

UNDER OATH

  • Death Trick is one of a select group of mysteries that I reread every couple of years. Its Chandler-esque wisecracks always make me laugh and its late 1970s picture of raucous and exuberant gay nightlife always makes me mourn anew the brevity of that pre-AIDS golden age. In Death Trick, Richard Stevenson, like his contemporaries Robert B. Parker and Sara Para Paretsky, began transforming the traditional politics of the hard-boiled form.”
    Maureen Corrigan (“Fresh Air,” NPR)
  • “One exquisite joy in reading an exciting mystery is to discover that the author has written others. If you read one Richard Stevenson mystery, sooner or later you will want to savor them all. Don’s family life with Timmy provides an overall continuity for the series but one need not read these mysteries in any particular order. Make no mistake about it. These books are excellent.”
    — John Morgan, The Richard Stevenson Mysteries
  • “For those of you who haven’t read the Donald Strachey series by Richard Stevenson, they are, for my money, some of the funniest, smartest PI novels around. The guy is just a terrific writer! Maybe even brilliant.”
    — Sam Phillips (2002, The Thrilling Detective Web Site)

NOVELS

TELEVISION

  • THIRD MAN OUT | Buy this DVD
    (2005, Here! Films)
    98 minutes
    Based on the novel by Richard Stevenson
    Teleplay by Mark Saltzman
    Directed by Ron Oliver
    Starring Chad Allen as DONALD STRACHEY
    with Sebastian Spence as Timmy Callahan
    Also starring Mark Acheson, Sean Young, Sean Carey, Moneca Delain, Woody Jeffreys, Jack Wetherall, Kirsten Williamson, Nicola Crosbie
  • SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM | Buy this DVD Watch it now!
    (2006, Here! Films)
    91 minutes
    Based on the novel by Richard Stevenson
    Teleplay by Ron McGee
    Directed by Ron Oliver
    Produced by Kirk Shaw
    Executive producers: Barry Krost, James Shavick, Paul Colichman
    Original Music by Peter Allen
    Starring Chad Allen as DONALD STRACHEY
    with Sebastian Spence as Timmy Callahan
    Also starring Daryl Shuttleworth, Morgan Fairchild, Anne Marie Deluise, Rikki Gagne, Stephen Huszar, Nelson Wong, Ryan Kennedy, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
    Shawn Roberts, Gerry Roberts
  • ICE BLUES | Buy this DVD Watch it now!
    (2008)
    Based on the novel by Richard Stevenson
    Directed by Ron Oliver
    Starring Chad Allen as DONALD STRACHEY
    with Sebastian Spence as Timmy Callahan
    Also starring Daryl Shuttleworth, Adrian Holmes, Nelson Wong
  • ON THE OTHER HAND, DEATH | Buy this DVD Watch it now!
    (2008)
    Based on the novel by Richard Stevenson
    Directed by Ron Oliver
    Starring Chad Allen as DONALD STRACHEY
    with Sebastian Spence as Timmy Callahan
    Also starring Margot Kidder, Gabrielle Rose

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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