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by Dorien Grey
GLB Publishers, June 2002
271 pages
ISBN: 1879194767

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE HIRED MAN, the fourth book in the Dick Hardesty series, finds Dick now working as a private investigator. Stuart Anderson asks Dick to investigate people, one of whom he is thinking of placing in a managerial position in his chain of gourmet kitchen supply shops.

He and Dick meet for dinner at Napoleon's, a very discreet, high-class restaurant that caters to gays. Anderson had told Hardesty that a mutual friend introduced them. Imagine Dick's surprise when the mutual friend turns out to be Phil Stark, mutated from rough trade to elegant male model.

Dick takes the job and makes an appointment to meet Anderson first thing Monday morning. But when Dick gets to Anderson's hotel, he finds that Anderson has been murdered. On meeting with Phil, Dick gets the lowdown on the transformation. Phil has been taken on by ModelMen, a modeling and escort agency run by a husband and wife team, Arnold and Iris Glick. Anderson was a bisexual, who played when he was away from his wife and children. The Glicks hire Hardesty to protect their interests.

Before too long, one of the ModelMen escorts is killed and then a prostitute is murdered in a similar manner. Suspicion falls on the owners and remaining escorts at ModelMen but Dick perseveres to find the true murderer.

The book is about relationships. Dick plays matchmaker, fixing up friends of his with each other. There is also the relationship between Arnold and Iris, and Iris and her brother, and Dick and any one of several men he goes to bed with. Hardesty has many friends and acquaintances, and he seems to go to bed with almost all of them. I worry about him. He needs a steady boyfriend. But all the characters are well delineated, and the ending comes as a big surprise. I look forward to reading more of Dick Hardesty's adventures.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, August 2004

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