Albany, New York private peeper DON STRACHEY is openly gay, a younger (forty-something) more emotional, and slightly flaky persona compared to 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 emotionally and professionally through the series.
Aiding him in his cases are his live-in lover, and sometime-conscience, Timothy J. Callahan, a rather strait-laced Jesuit-trained attorney for the state government, and later an legislative aide for a New York senator, plus various friends and acquaintances in Albany's large gay network.
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. "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."
There have also been several made-for-television films released for the Here! network ("Gay television. No apologies."), starring hunky Chad Allan as Strachey, Although low-budget, with British Columbia standing in for Albany, both have received generally good reviews, prompting The New York Times to tag A Shock to the System as "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."
Author Richard Stevenson also reviews crime fiction for The Washington Post under the byline of Richard Lipez.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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