Mystery novels were among my first not-scholastic readings. And before I studied Classic literature in school, mysteries were the first readings of mine when I saw homosexuality mentioned, sadly mostly unfavorably. Homosexuals were depicted as effete degenerates in the hard-boiled school of mystery novels, and as for the others, homosexuals were the killers, hapless victims, or comic reliefs ( like in Donald E. Westlake's High adventure). To see us GLBT people in an unbiased, objective way,I had to wait till the Seventies. "La Donna della Domenica (Sunday Woman) " by Italians Fruttero and Lucentini by '72 depicted a realistic, matter-of-fact gay couple, that was near breakup (depicting them loving and happy would have been too much, I suppose). Moreover, neither of those two was the perpetrator nor was he presented in a ludicrous way.Sadly, one of them was a victim.
And then came Joseph Hansen with a gay detective! As you read in
"In many ways a conventional P.I. - although he is in fact an insurance claims investigator - DAVE BRANDSTETTER makes for an interesting read partly because he is one of the few convincing (male) gay characters in crime writing. What makes the Brandstetter books very good however, is the way they combine a compelling, well-written 'whodunit' with their evocation of 70's and 80's Southern California, particularly Los Angeles. (...)
And kudos should be given to Hansen for his deft handling of Dave's long-term relationship with young, black TV reporter Cecil Harris with honesty and grace. It's a believable and adult relationship, and that's a rare enough thing, gay or straight, in detective fiction."
Today, gay detectives abound, in novels of various literary merit written by gay authors. My favourite among those is Dorien Grey,with is Dick Hardesty novels
In his first novel Dick Hardesty is not a sleuth but a Public Relation man, whose current task is to organize the electoral campaign of a bigoted homophobic Sheriff.
He's torn in two between his gay nature and his job, whilst an arsonist is picking on gay bars. When an arson claims lives, he becomes an investigator, and the solution is really hitckcockian in nature. Human interest and good mystery make for a very enjoyable series. Issues like gay families and gay marriages are also addressed. But Dorian Grey's most intriguing work is another's sleuth's story
Paranormal and mystery join in this masterpiece of the genre, redolent of Algernon Blackwood dreamy athmosphere in the same Chicago of another famous sleuth, Dick Tracy. Elliott Smith, the protagonist,is not a sleuth, but a builder, specializing in restoring ancient buildings. One day he wakes in an hospital after an accident, and find himself visited not only by family and friends, but by a ghostly visitor, a wistful ghost who knows only hisname: John. John will prompt Elliott to become sleuth after the discovery of an ancient skeleton in a building; from there departs a strange investigations that mixes history, romance and the supernatural. One of the most original mysteries I've read. I recommend it!