Reviewed by Alan Chin
This who-done-it story is set in the early 80s, when a “Gay Cancer” begins sweeping through the gay community. Little is known about the virus, and there is still no test to confirm its presence. Above the general fear of who would be the next to fall sick and die, grows a rumor that some villain is deliberately spreading the virus by having unprotected sex with as many people as possible. Is it true? Could anyone be so dastardly, or is the rumor being spread as a way to close a popular leather bar and financially destroy its owner? Detective Dick Hardesty is called onto the case to find out if the rumors are true, and if so, to track down the murderer. The tension rises as Dick is sucked into a world of leather bars and hospital rooms, chasing the grim reaper as he moves through this unsuspecting gay community.
Although I am, admittedly, not a fan of detective stories, I found The Dream Ender a satisfying read. Beyond the normal mystery plot twists, is the convincing story of a community in turmoil. Having lived through that particular time myself, this story kept me turning pages while remembering all the fear and confusion of the time. It also kept me guessing all the way to the last ten pages.
Dorien Grey paints rather pleasant prose that is spiked with wit. I sometimes felt he was sitting across the desk telling me the story rather than me reading it. He gives detailed descriptions of gay relationships, gay parenting, and the hectic life of a private investigator. Interesting characters, life style details and suspense, make The Dream Ender a good read.
This is the eleventh book in the Dick Hardesty Mystery series. I’ve heard some people call it Dorien’s best work, but I can’t say since this is the first of Dorien’s books I have read. I can say that, having not read the other ten did in no way diminish my enjoyment of this one.