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by Dorien Grey
Zumaya, June 2007
224 pages
ISBN: 1934135623

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Isn't it a pleasure to encounter old friends, especially if one has been told those old friends had met their demise? Such is the case with Dorien Grey's Dick Hardesty, his lover Jonathan and Jonathan's nephew Joshua. When Grey moved from his old publisher GLB, it seemed that the series had come to a premature end but, thanks to Zumaya, the characters live to entertain their audience for at least one more read.

The story opens with a bout of sickness that could well serve as a signpost to the far greater and more serious illness dealt with later in the tale. Joshua has overdone the party goodies on his fifth birthday so suffers the consequences – or perhaps more accurately, Dick and Jonathan must clear up the consequences. Their friends Jake and Jared had been uncharacteristically silent at the party and Jonathan reports that one of their friends had died of AIDS, aged 31.

Soon, people begin thinking that any innocently-acquired attack of pneumonia may presage full-blown AIDS so that when Jake is hospitalised, all fear the worst.

Rumours start that someone is deliberately spreading AIDS. The person identified as the carrier dies, apparently as the result of an accident –until the bullet wound is discovered. The gun belonging to one of Hardesty's friends is missing and Dick becomes enmeshed in the investigation.

Although the exact year of the action in the Dick Hardesty novels is never identified, this story seems to pin it down more than have previous novels. GHOSTBUSTERS has just been released so that would anchor it quite firmly in 1984, the year that AIDS became well-known.

Jonathan doesn't occupy such a large part of the action in this tale. He seems to be developing – perhaps growing up – more, despite his relatively minor role. Dick remains pretty well unchanged but one wonders what lies in store for Joshua. Will the author have him mature into a straight man or will he, too, grow up gay?

There is always a welcoming feel to the Dick Hardesty novels. The mystery is invariably fairly plotted and the people maintain their own characters. May Dick, Jonathan and Joshua continue their happy lives for a long time yet.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, August 2007

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