Molly's Reviews

The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery
Dorien Grey
Captivating Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

"The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery" narrative opens with a ringing telephone. Private Investigator Dick Hardesty is working on a crossword. Before long his thoughts turn to incidents covering the previous months. Dick and his partner have become parents to Jonathan’s orphaned four-year-old nephew. Plus Dick has just worked with the police to solve a puzzling series of murders at the newly established Burrows library housing both eccentric Chester Butler’s extensive collection of papers and books centering on homosexuality, as well as the Gay Archives which have heretofore been housed in a small storefront.

Chester Burrows, reclusive gay, wealthy and dead at 89 collected every thing written bearing the word homosexual. His companion of later years was noted writer Evan Knight who has a grasp of the nuances of the 20s and 30s not often found in modern authors. Knight was hired to by Burrows to get his collection in order, catalogue and protect. Evan devoted a good bit of his effort to the extensive ‘Butler’ papers. During the 20s and 30s Jerromy Butler was a brimstone and hellfire despiser of homosexuality.

Upon Burrows’ death a million dollar bequest provides that the Burrows Foundation be set into place. It is at the celebratory party announcing the opening of the Burrows Library that a body is found in the basement. How cataloguer Taylor Cates died is apparent; blunt trauma to the back of his head. He has fallen down the stairs. Attorney Glen O’Banion, Burrows Foundation Board Member arranges for Dick Hardesty to begin an investigation. The police call the death an accident, O’Banion and others on the board think perhaps not. Hardesty is convinced that Cates’ death is murder. But, how to prove it, and why will take all of Hardesty’s skill as a detective.

As he continues his writing; Writer Dorien Grey just gets better. In this reviewer’s opinion "The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery" is the best to date. As is found in other writings offered by writer Grey characters are clever, often conniving, excellently masterminded and thoroughly developed. From the disdainful Evan Knight, sneering Burrow’s nephew Zach Clanton, and contemptuous Butler grandson Collin, to young, sixteen year old Craig Richman, a fellow we have met before and who is coming to grips with his own gender identity, to Craig’s patient, father Mark Richman each is credible and engaging. They are not all agreeable or likeable.

Characters we have come to know and enjoy from reading previous Dorien Grey: Attorney Glen O’Banion, police officers Mark Richman and Marty Gresham, Bob Allen and his partner Mario, assistant Medical Examiner Tim and his partner model Phil, Tondelaya O’toole - Teddy Wilson well known drag queen who appears at a fundraiser at the dance bar Steamroller Junction are all included in the tale. Teddy knew one murder victim, Taylor Cates, they were neighbors when Taylor was younger.

Zestful energy, appealing perplexity and potent dialog are offered in this tale filled with profuse strife in this well written, fast paced tale. The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery by Dorien Grey reveals a razor sharp account with wit and eclat.

I particularly enjoyed the repartee between Hardesty and Jonathan as they settle into their roles as new parents to an energetic youngster.

Not for everyone, while no explicit sexual scenes there is some oblique reference to sexual activity. Those who are unable to get beyond their own bias will not see beyond the references to the gay community. On the other hand "The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery" is an excellent choice for any who enjoy a good mystery, excellent presentation and fine writing.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend "The Paper Mirror: a Dick Hardesty Mystery" for the home pleasure reading library.a

The Role PlayersThe Role Players
Dorien Grey
GLB Publishers

Exciting Read ..... Highly Recommended ..... 5 stars

When PI Dick Hardesty's old flame Chris Wolff and his companion Max Rawls issue an invitation to Dick and his partner Jonathan Quinlan to come to New York the pair leap at the chance. A vacation is soon planned for taking in the sights and attending the opening night of 'Impartial Observer' written by Gene Morrison. Max just happens to be the stage manager while Chris is the set designer. Old friends Tim and Phil agree to feed Jonathan's fish and care for his plants while the duo are away from home.

Leading man Rod Pearce was murdered just prior to the trip planned by Dick and Jonathan. Tait Duncan of The Whitman Theater group, financial backer for the play suspects someone involved in the play may be responsible for Rod's death. He is adamant that he does not want adverse publicity to taint the upcoming opening. The offer of a sizeable fee prompts Dick to accept Duncan's offer, however, the trip is supposed to be a vacation. Duncan's proposal that Dick do only what he can during the time he and Jonathan are in New York along with Jonathan's agreeing to the plan clinches the deal. Before long Dick is embroiled in the investigation. Tourist ventures, tickets to see Cats, afternoon rehearsal, an understudy who is proving to be a bit of a problem, lunch on a high rise balcony, the world trade center, Christopher Street, the Statue of Liberty, a torn note and a man with a beard and a matchbook from a rough bar, 'The Hole,' and solving a murder are all part of the tale.

Murder first brought Dick and Jonathan together. And now, in "The Role Players", one more murder draws the pair into the seamy underbelly of rumors, animosities, and ego trips peculiar to the New York theatrical group. Dick's sound reasoning and purposeful inquisitiveness are put to good use as he sorts through the circumstances surrounding the killing. It does not take Dick long to realize that while Rod's death is a blow for everyone involved in the production; Rod was a slut. Suspects abound. There are plenty of men who might want to see him dead.

With "The Role Players" Writer Grey furthers his zestful, reader pleasing series featuring PI Hardesty and with the introduction of Jonathan offers the reader a duo of fascinating characters certain to delight the most demanding reader. Grey crafts another pleasantly puzzling mystery, filled with spine tingling, fast-paced action, quick-witted dialogue, a hefty dollop of jocularity and not a little artifice destined to keep the reader turning the pages.

"The Role Players" may be author Grey's prime nisus to date, but then, this reviewer tends to think that of each of this writer's works as they appear. Grey's genius as a novelist advances with each new thriller he produces. Well-fleshed characters, hard hitting dialogue, backdrops filled with all the points of interest, resonances and aroma of the locale pull the reader straight into the book from the opening paragraph as we sit with Jonathan and Dick on the airplane descending into LaGuardia. Reader interest is held tight through each of the steps and missteps encountered along the pathway until Dick reveals to the murderer, and to us, that he has done it again. … the culprit is exposed and the conclusion is acceptable.

Excellent addition to the home library where "The Role Players" will be read and enjoyed by those who enjoy a touch of romance, the out of the ordinary and plain good writing when enjoying a 'whodunnit.' The Role Players is sure to please those who enjoy the genre.

Entertaining read, happy to recommend.

The Dirt Peddler
Dorien Grey

Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Absorbing read ... Recommended ... 5 stars

When Investment counselor John Bradshaw comeWhen Tony T Tunderew produces a thinly veiled 'tell all' book about Governor Harry Keene he and the book become an instant success. Tony, a well-known homophobe, soon is embroiled in divorce from his wife of thirteen years. He is being blackmailed and is up to his eyeballs in underhanded chicanery. Dick Hardesty PI is hired by Tunderew to locate the man he knows is blackmailing him. Hardesty and Tunderew part ways when Hardesty widens his investigation beyond just the dupe Tunderew had used to gain information for his book. Tunderew's second book will soon be ready for publishing and rumor has it that it too sizzles. Hardesty and his partner Jonathan take in a young former hustler Randy Jacobs who has been kicked out of his work program at New Eden where Jonathan is involved in landscaping of the site. When Tunderew and Randy are found dead in an auto crash the mystery only deepens. Before long a string of murdered young former street people, blasé former wife and peculiar leaders of New Eden convince Hardesty that there is more to the deaths than just an auto crash.

Dorien Grey is only getting better. Filled with the profusely drawn scenarios, paradoxical ingeniously woven twists of story line and quick-witted, deceptive characters we have come to expect from this writer "The Dirt Peddler" possibly the best work produced by Writer Grey to date. "The Dirt Peddler" is a commanding read remarkably masterminded by an accomplished teller of tales in the manner of authors Dashiell Hammett and William Manchee. Disparity is plenteous in this well drawn tale. Well-fleshed characters are engaging and fiduciary. Energetic colloquy is at times gritty and filled with touching angst in this impressive fast paced page-turner.

"The Dirt Peddler" takes an unpleasant character in the form of Tunderew and weaves a reader grabber around him from the first page right down to the last paragraph. The circumstances surrounding the unlikeable Tunderew's demise are grist for the tale wrought in clever detail by writer Grey. Old friends to the reader are again present as Dick Hardesty and Jonathan grow in their relationship. Phil and Tim, Bob Allen, attorney Glen O'Banyon and Lt. Richman return to visit with Hardesty, or grab a bite to eat or a drink at Ramons, Napoleons or Hughies.

Watch for those famous Dorien Grey red herrings. "The Dirt Peddler" has more than enough of them to confuse most readers.

The Dirt Peddler is a good read for a lazy summer afternoon. Happy to Recommend.

The Bottle GhostsThe Bottle Ghosts
A Dick Hardesty Mystery
Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Enjoyable Read Highly Recommended 5 stars

When Investment counselor John Bradshaw comes to P I Hardesty to enlist the detective's help in finding Bradshaw's gone missing partner Jerry Shea; Dick does not realize where the conundrum will lead or how many missing gay, alcoholic men there have been over the past five years. Despite the fact that homophobic Chief Rourke's leaving the police force; missing persons reports are not handled too differently. Gay partners then and now are not the top priority. Fortunately one sharp-eyed young officer working on his master's thesis has noted a particular pattern surrounding some of the missing persons. Before the puzzlement surrounding what may have become of Shea is unraveled Hardesty will have nineteen names on his list of missing.

Each time I think writer Grey cannot possibly meet the standard of his last book, he does and more. "The Bottle Ghosts" continues the pattern author Grey has established for himself. Avid readers of Grey's work will be happy to know old friends Bob and Mario, Chris and Max, Tondelaya O'Toole, Lt. Richman are again found in this particular tome. In "The Bottle Ghosts" Grey crafts a well written, fast paced novel filled with the excellent gritty dialogue, admirable situations and bang-up scenarios we have come to expect. Grey's expertise with words paint a zestful backdrop of buildings, sights and sounds. I can easily visualize the long broken Trocadero sign now gracing The Troc bar. Guy Prentiss at the piano is nearly audible and Tondelaya! I'm happy to see he/she and her Pearl Bailey routine have returned from New Orleans to help headline the show for the opening of the Steamroller Junction in the gay area.

As always watch the red herrings. Just when you are sure you have figured it all out writer Grey sneaks in another little mischievous word to lead you down another path. Nothing is ever exactly as may be thought when you are reading master mystery writer Dorien Grey.

If this is your first Dorien Grey novel, it is one of Author Grey's finest. Grey writes for all audiences who enjoy good mystery, interesting characters and tongue in cheek humor now and then

Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Gripping read Highly Recommended 5 stars

All the old favorites are back in this eagerly awaited 'next in the series' PI Dick Hardesty offering by Dorien Grey. Ramons Bar, Napoleon, Rasputin and Calypso eating joints, the Nightengale and Ruthie's bars all figure in the tale woven by Writer Grey. Hardesty's friends Bob Allen, Jimmy, Jared Martinson, Jim Marsh and Cory Lockhart are all here and taking an active part in the city. Homophobic Police Chief Rourke is gone and has been replaced by Kensington Black. Black has instituted a new policy of social awareness for his officers. Not all of them are completely sold on the idea. Gang turf, Hardesty's college friend Tom Brady and his wife Lisa, mobster Joey Giacomino, the Montero Hotel and arson provide grist for Hardesty as he works with the police department to keep a lid on roiling feelings within the gay community.

When Tom Brady telephones Hardesty to tell him that he and Lisa have just moved into town the pair resume the friendship started so many years before. Tom's Hotel magnate father has sent Tom to turn the Montero Hotel into a success. Tom has a true penchant for the work, however his longheld dream is to become a police officer. Tom joins the force is assigned to the burgeoning gang task force and finds himself involved in an unexpected alley shootout. Tom is not seriously wounded; but the fact that the incident took part in the gay sector of town has become a subject of rumor and distrust from his fellow officers.

When Tom is found shot dead everyone has to wonder if perhaps a fellow officer might have been the perpetrator. Hardesty has his work cut out for him as he endeavors to uncover the truth, maintain his integrity and avenge his friend's death. What part, if any the Amalgamated Hotel Workers of America local president Giacomino may play in the situation will be cleared up as Hardesty unravels the conundrum surrounding Tom Brady's assassination.

Writer Grey's hard hitting account The Good Cop continues the gritty dialogue, well developed plots, twists and turns and nicely advanced situations we have come to expect from his PI Hardesty tales. This talented prolific writer presents another credible tale filled with many of the sights, locales, and characters we have enjoyed in the earlier works along with a whole new group of performers for us to enjoy. Chief Black is a refreshing change from the overwrought homophobic Rourke. Hardesty's sleuthing skills are becoming more refined.

The Good Cop may be writer Grey's best effort to date. Watch those red herrings. Grey will lead you down a merry chase leading to deadend and confusion if you are not very careful. The Good Cop is everything I look for in good entertaining mystery writing: Grey presents winning characters, a well-crafted tale and just plain good writing.

A Dick Hardesty Mystery
Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Highly recommended

When PI Dick Hardesty receives a visit from Stuart Anderson regarding some investigative work Anderson would like done Hardesty wonders about the man's intentions. After all Anderson is obviously married, the pale mark on his ring finger indicates the removal of the wedding ring not long ago. Hardesty is gay, most of his clients are gay they are in a gay area of the town and he wonders just what Anderson may be up to. Anderson, the CEO of a kitchen supply chain wants Hardesty to do background checks on possible new employees for his company. His reasoning is that Hardesty will not be predisposed to find fault if it should be learned that one of the potential new managers or assistant managers is gay.

Phil Stark suggested Hardesty as the man for the job. Stark is a hustler now Male Model-Escort who works for a high-class Male Modeling/Escort service operated by Arnold Glick and his wife Iris. Before long Mr. Anderson is quite dead and the ring is still not on his finger. Stuart Anderson was not quite the total straight he liked to present to the public. Whenever he was on business trips he enjoyed the services of the Glick escorts as well as others in other cities.

Hardesty realizes that the police are sure to begin to piece the circumstances of the death with the Glick Modeling-Escort business. Because Phil is a longtime friend Hardesty sets out to discover how and why Anderson died and darn near runs afoul of both the police and the murderer.

In The Hired Man Dorien Grey has done it again! Writer Grey continues to grow as an author. The Hired Man has all the memorable well defined characters, plot and sub plots, twists and turns we have come to expect from this writer. The machinations, scheming and intrigue presented by the 'good' and the 'bad,' the 'straight' and 'the gay' are so similar as to be indistinguishable.

Dialogue between Writer Grey's characters is gutsy, hard hitting, believable. Circumstances, settings and the story line itself are all presented in Grey's usual indomitable style. The setting might be nearly anywhere, the artifice is found in all strata of society.

Writer Grey is well capable of presenting each of his characters as neither to be viewed solely as GAY nor STRAIGHT, GOOD or BAD, they are merely PEOPLE who have imperfections, warts and each of the foibles as beset us all. It is this quality that makes Dorien Grey's work appealing to everyone who enjoys a good solid mystery filled with red herrings, good writing, intrigue and entertaining subject matter.

Good read.

The Butcher's SonTHE BUTCHER'S SON
by Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Perceptive book and highly recommended

Bacchus Lair manager David Lee provides a locale where performers can engage in their metier. Dick Hardesty, employed as a public relations maven for Carlton Carlson and Associates along with some of his friends, regularly delight in both the ambience and the entertainment. This begins to change when an apparent homophobic arsonist begins burning numerous of the local gay watering holes. Hardesty has recently found himself in the thankless job of helping to get Chief of Police Terrence Rourke elected to the office of state governor. This most unlikeable, homophobic man is conjectured by the gay community to even have done away with his own gay son Patrick.

Hardesty threads a fine line between his work with the Carlton Carson agency and Rouke's possible discovery that the genius behind his highly successsful campaign is himself gay. Patrick's twin Kevin, married, father of a young son, pastor of a rescue mission located not far from Bacchus Lair proves an ally for Hardesty as the campaign carries through toward election day. Hardesty soon discovers he is learning more about the narrow-minded, harsh Chief than he ever hoped to know when the 'worst fire in city history' guts another gay bar in the Bacchus Lair vicinity. In this inferno are lost friends of Hardesty. He is propelled into trying to find who is effecting the horror only to discover not everything in the Rourke household is as it once seemed. With the arsonist brought to the light of day, Hardesty is able to persuade Chief Terrence Rouke to take back his name from the governor's race.

Excellent book filled with a marvelous array of characters. From the delightful drag queen Tondelay O'Tool/Teddy, the mysterious Judy Garland, and right down to the bigot Rourke these are people who catch and hold your attention. The mystery surrounding Patrick Rouke's supposed death, his brother Kevin and Dick Hardesty himself are all credible characters behaving in plausible manner. The twists of plot coupled with Hardesty's personal life situation provide the backdrop for his leaving the Public Relations firm and hanging out his shingle as a Private Detective.
Evocative of Christine Spindler's 'Faces of Fear' and filled with the spine tingling chill of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the narrative is a grab the reader from the opening page and keep them interested right down to the last. The anguish of the gay community is compelling. Hardesty's desperation driven behavior as he strives to discover what is bringing about this terror keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. The interwoven personal issues Hardesty and his friends engage in are grist for the story.

THE BUTCHER'S SON extends to the reader a glimpse inside the mind of a hagridden, obsessed individual who begins to act upon his delusion in the most fear-inspiring manner. In a short time the reader observes how quickly controlled behavior turns to irrational, overpowering hostility and even murderous intent.

THE BUTCHER'S SON is Dorien Grey's second mystery thriller and is the prequel to his highly acclaimed 'The Ninth Man.' We who enjoy thrillers are delighted to know Dorien is hard at work on the next and many more novels in this series are soon to be forthcoming. THE BUTHCHER'S SON is a tale that will clinch you tight from the first line and will hold you fast right on down to the last page.

Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

Highly recommended

"To those who not only hear the different drummer within themselves, but dare to march to his beat.." When arrogant former porn star Barry Comstock is found laying dead with his chest pierced by his own letter opener in the office of his members only bathhouse; P I Dick Hardesty is the San Francisco police department's prime suspect. Heck, he is their only suspect. His fingerprints are on the murder weapon and the police are sure they need not look any further.

San Francisco has changed a bit since repulsive, homophobic Chief Rourke retired, however it has not changed enough. The fact that PI Hardesty was seen by numerous witnesses in another part of town at the time the murder took place doesn't seem to impress the local constabulary near as much as it might. Doesn't take P I Hardesty long to realize that he is going to have to track down the real killer darn fast. Luckily Comstock's partners are not nearly so pig headed as Comstock. Attorney Glen O'Banyon, one of Comstock's partners, offers Hardesty a contract paying his regular fee in exhange for his work on the matter.

Dorien Grey has done it again! The Bar Watcher is the third in this exciting series of thrillers featuring the amiable Dick Hardesty. Grey's characters continue as entertaining and credible as those found in his two previous works. Many of the old company as well as many of the old familiar haunts reappear here in this narrative. Hardesty and his chums are a likeable lot, it is like watching old friends to again read another in the series. The Bar Watcher is a fast paced, action filled tale filled with duplicity, characters you love to hate, and others you have to like in spite of themselves.

Writer Grey has again brought us one of his excellent 'grab the reader from the opening line and hold them tight right down to the last paragraph' works. Dialogue between the characters is fluid, filled with tumult and plausible. The promise of the narrative is fulfilled by Writer Grey's attention to detail. The reader comes away with a sense of having been in Hardesty's neighborhood, and working right alongside Hardesty as he unravels this baffling case.

Watch those red herrings. Writer Grey has moved beyond crafty and is getting down right sneaky in his presentation of those little roadblocks! Happy to know Dorien is already working on the next in the series. Keep 'em coming! Excellent read, highly recommended.

by Dorien Grey
Ebook division: GLB Publishers

San Francisco Private Detective Dick Hardesty is presented with what seems to be a cut and dried case of suicide by a distraught sweetheart unable to accept the coroner's verdict. Kyle Rholfing offers a substantial retainer if Hardesty will only accept the case into the death of Rholfing's lover Bobby McDermott. Before long Hardesty finds himself facing the fact that the police are largely ignoring the obvious; the death of 6 gay men over a two month period and taking place from similar circumstance is most likely due neither to natural causes nor to several suicides. Unable to find a link between the various victims, Hardesty believes he must be searching for a serial killer only to discover both a link and heartbreak for himself as the new sweetheart he has found turns out to be not as first appeared.

Despite some profanity and a bit of graphic sex I found this tale to be both gripping and well written. When first sent the book to review I was warned it was a gay mystery which contained graphic sex and had steeled myself for being shocked or repulsed. I, middle class, white, wife and mom of two, was not. To be honest I don't much care for graphic sex whether hetero or homosexual, especially when it is obviously thrown in to try to cover bad writing or a flimsy story line. Author Grey accomplished neither; the sex scenes in this manuscript are an integral part of the story, and the narrative is both believable and gripping along with being well written. Grey's characters are so well thought out I found myself rooting for the 'bad guy.'

This 'grab you from the first line' account when unlikable Rohlfing swishes into Hardesty's office is an entertaining read filled with characters who are as human as those presented by Erle Stanley Gardner. The mystery slowly unravels to reveal an understandable assassin who has sound reasons for the murders he has committed. The interwoven personal issues found among the various characters forcefully point out that the caring felt for one person by another often will motivate the most mild mannered into action hertofore thought impossible to contemplate. When our loved ones are harmed most any of us will seek redress, when none is available through accepted means most any of us may contemplate taking action into our own hands as has been portrayed in author Grey's bittersweet tale.

THE NINTH MAN offers the reader a peek inside the very human issues experienced by both gay and straight communities; issues which are not the sole property of either. THE NINTH MAN is a well thought out bittersweet romantic mystery thriller and well worth the reading. Some profanity, some graphic sex language. Highly recommended.




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© 2005 by Molly Martin