The Bar Watcher (A Dick Hardesty Mystery, #3)(paperback) by Dorien Grey

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ISBN: 9781611878028
Pages: 251

When the obnoxious owner of a gay bathhouse begins receiving threatening messages accusing him of not admitting people inside that he doesn't deem "hot" enough, he enlists the services of private detective Dick Hardesty to find the person behind the notes. When the owner is murdered following a heated argument with Dick, Hardesty becomes a suspect. Following a succession of other seemingly unrelated deaths — all involving individuals noted for their cruelty to other gays — Hardesty begins to suspect the actions are of someone who is looking to “take out the garbage” of the gay community. Can he solve the case and clear his name before the body count rises even further?


I was in what I refer to now as my “slut phase.” My monogamous five-year relationship with Chris had broken up some time before, and I decided it was about time I let the other guys spend their time looking for Mr. Right—I’d concentrate on Mr. Right Now. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t whittle a notch in the bedpost after every trick, or I’d have ended up sleeping on a mound of wood shavings.

When I wasn’t pursuing research for a book I thought about writing on “101 Fun Things to Do With a Penis,” I was actually making some progress in that part of my life that didn’t involve lying down. I’d obtained my private investigator’s license late the year before, and was struggling to make ends meet.

Business was beginning to improve, though slowly, thanks to a solid working relationship I had with members of the local gay Bar Guild, for whom I’d done a couple of favors prior to taking out my license. Referrals from Guild members were, in fact, the source of much of my business. That there weren’t exactly a lot of gay private investigators to choose from also helped, I’m sure.

I’d rented a small office in one of the city’s older commercial buildings, with an address far more impressive than the building itself. If I’d started out with any illusions that being a private investigator might be a pretty exciting job, reality kicked me in the ass in short order. Lots and lots of checking on possibly (and too often definitely) wandering lovers, one or two incidences of blackmail, a case of embezzlement involving the business manager of a gay resort—that sort of thing—and lots of sitting around waiting for the next client.

Oh, yeah…and I’d given up smoking. Cold turkey. That was a hell of a lot harder than any case I’d had, or was likely ever to have.

So, I was relieved when the phone rang just as I was trying to figure out a ten-letter word for “reclusive or brutish person” in the paper’s crossword puzzle (don’t bother—it’s “troglodyte”).

“Hardesty Investigations,” I said, in my professional, half-octave-lower-than-normal voice.

“Hardesty, this is Barry Comstock. Jay Mason of the Bar Guild referred you to me.” 

“Well, thanks for calling, Mr. Comstock,” I said, making a mental note to thank Jay as well. “How can I help you?”

“I own Rage…you’re familiar with it?”

Rage was the city’s hottest bathhouse. I knew it.

“Of course,” I said, then waited for him to continue.

“We’ve got ourselves a problem, and while I think it’s a bunch of bullshit, they tell me you might be able to help resolve it.”

“Is it anything you can mention on the phone, or…?” I asked.

“No, definitely not.”

“I understand,” I said, but of course, I didn’t. “Did you want to come to my office?” 

“No, you come over here. I’ve got a business to run, and I can’t just be taking off.”

Like I wasn’t busy. Well, okay, I wasn’t, but I didn’t like his “busier than thou” attitude.

“No problem,” I said. “I can be there in about an hour, if that would be all right. I have a client coming in a little later this afternoon.” I lied, but he didn’t have to know that. 

“Good,” he said. “I don’t see your name on our members list, but I might have missed it.”

Actually, he hadn’t—I wasn’t a member. Baths are fine, but they’re not my thing. I like to have a few words come out of my mouth before putting something in, and the baths aren’t exactly the place guys go for complex conversations like “Hi. My name’s…”

“I know how to find it,” I said. “I’ll see you in an hour, then.”

He hung up without a word.

Though I’d never met Barry Comstock, I’d seen him at a distance a couple of times in the trendier bars and discos, always accompanied by two or three different good-looking guys he seemed to enjoy treating like dirt. He had a reputation as a wheeler-dealer in the rapidly growing gay business community. A former porn star, he’d opened Rage about eight months earlier. He was noted for having a monumental schlong, and an ego to match. I’d seen some of his movies—I think I still have a copy of one of his better ones, Comstock’s Load.

He was also rumored to have the first nickel he ever made, so I imagined he would not be calling on me unless it was something pretty important.

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