Donald Strachey: Gay Private Dick

Cover of ‘Shock to the System’ (Credit: HereTV)


Gay Private Dick?

Recently I discovered a series of movies (based on novels) about a Gay private eye or dick (old slang for detective). I actually saw the second movie in the series ‘Shock To the System’ a few years ago but didn’t realize it was one of four movies or that is was based on a series of books.



The series was started in 1981 by Richard Stevenson (pen name for Richard Lipez). ‘Death Trick’ (the first book) takes place in the promiscuous late ’70s. The most recent ‘www.dropdead’, deals with the death of a gay online magazine editor. Totaling fifteen novels, the series spans four decades, the latest book being published in 2016.


‘Death Trick’ – 1981 (Credit: Harrington Park Press)


‘www.dropdead’ – 2016 (Credit: MLR Press, LLC)




The movies star Chad Allen (out actor famous for ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’) as Donald Strachey and Sebastian Spence as his boyfriend Timmy Callahan. Donald is a struggling P.I. who is often harassed by cheaters he has exposed and drives a beat-up Toyota hatchback. Fortunately his boyfriend Timmy is an aide to a New York Senator and they own a house in Albany that they are remodeling. They both enjoy drinking martinis, shaken not stirred (sorry couldn’t resist).


Sebastian Spence as Timmy and Chad Allen as Donald (Credit: HereTV)


The four movies adapt the books ‘Third Man Out’, ‘Shock to the System’, ‘On the other hand, Death’, and ‘Ice Blues’. There is a fifth movie called Martinis and Murder that features behind the scenes and interviews with the actors. All aired on HereTV, the premium Gay TV network.

There are some changes to the books as ‘Third Man Out’ and ‘Shock to the System’ follow ‘Ice Blues’ in the novel series. Also, some characters are original to the movies or are changed.

The movies deal with issues facing the LGBT+ community such as hypocritical politicians, conversion therapy, and discrimination.

‘Third Man Out’ features Jack Wetherall (better know as Vic from ‘Queer as Folk’) as a reporter who outs politicians and the late great Margot Kidder who plays a Lesbian guidance counselor in ‘On the other hand, Death’.

The movies do have a little nudity (some frontal) and some sex but nothing gratuitous. There are plenty of shirtless guys in the first two movies.



The movies may be hard to find on DVD, but they are also available on HereTV’s app. You can visit their website to see on which devices the app is available or which cable providers have the HereTV channel.

You can find the availability of the books on Good Reads and a synopsis for each one.



Being a fan of mysteries (Like Agatha Christie or the Cat Who series) I was very excited to finally see a gay detective portrayed on screen. I enjoyed the movies so much that I plan on reading the books and highly recommend them if you were looking for mysteries with LGBT+ themes.