“The Ninth Man” by Dorien Grey is book #2 of the Dick Hardesty Mystery series.
It is already available in print and as an ebook, and is currently in production as an audiobook which should be available sometime after the 15th October 2013..
Who is Dorien Grey?
Dorien Grey is the pen-name and alter ego of a former book and magazine editor now living in a remote and time-warped area of the upper mid-west. While working for a large publishing house in Los Angeles, Dorien was instrumental in establishing a division exclusively for the publication of gay paperbacks and magazines, of which he became editor. He moved on to edit a leading L.A. based international gay men’s magazine.
Dorien left Los Angeles for the mid-west to pursue his dream of opening a bed and breakfast and starting a literary service to work with writers through the mail. (“Beware of your dreams,” he cautions.) He currently devotes his energies to writing, and has two novels and a book of poetry in the works.
What’s “The Ninth Man” about?
Beware of strangers bearing gifts.
A serial killer is on the loose, apparently targeting gay men at random for death by a most unusual means, and the homophobic police force seems much more interested in meeting its parking ticket quota than in bothering with a bunch of dead faggots. As the body count mounts, it’s up to PI Dick Hardesty to find out not only to find what all the dead men had in common, but who killed them, and why.
The cover below is for the audiobook.
Excerpt from Dorien Grey’s “The Ninth Man.”
No sooner had I replaced the receiver in its cradle when the phone rang again, startling me. I waited until the second ring, then picked it up again.
“Mr. Hardesty!” It took only five syllables for me to recognize Rholfing’s twitter.
“Yes, Mr. Rholfing,” I said, again using my all-business voice. “What can I do for you?” Shit! I did it again!
But Rholfing apparently wasn’t into ‘cute’ this morning. Instead, his voice was breathless with excitement. “I know, Mr. Hardesty! I know!” He sounded like a ten-year-old with a secret he was just dying to share.
“I’m glad, Mr. Rholfing. What is it you know?”
He was nearly panting. “I know those people you were asking me about! I remember them all!”
I felt the adrenaline pumping through me, but tried to keep my voice—and myself—calm. “Are you sure?” I asked, hoping this wasn’t just another of his ploys to get me into the bedroom.
The excitement in his voice was tinged with just a slight pout. “Of course I’m sure. I was so stupid not to have known the minute you mentioned them, but as I told you, I’m absolutely dreadful with names. But I remember other things. Alan Roberts or Rogers or whichever it is is a painter; Clete Baker is a big man with a football player’s body and the IQ of a baked potato. Arthur…uh, what was it…Granger has this thing for truck drivers and Hells Angels rejects—I think he and Clete had something going there for awhile, but I’m not sure; and Arnold…uh…Klein may look like a mouse, but he’s a certified sex maniac, I can tell you. Am I right? Am I?”
I hoped he was near the bathroom, because it sounded as though he might pee in his pants any second. But by this time, I was getting nearly as excited as he was. Still, I fought to keep my voice cool.
“It sounds like you’ve got it just about right,” I said. “But how do you know them? What’s the link between them, if any?”
“Oh, there’s a link, all right. But that’s all part of the surprise! I’ve got to tell you in person. Why don’t you stop by tonight around five thirty? We can have cocktails, and I can tell you all about it.”
I wanted to reach through the phone and grab him by the neck, but I kept my voice calm. “Well, couldn’t you tell me now…”
His voice changed from excited schoolgirl to Gestapo interrogator. “No, I can’t! You probably know already, anyway. You haven’t kept me up to date as you promised, Mr. Hardesty. I mean, I hardly know what’s going on… .”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Rholfing,” I said, trying to soothe him and feeling only slightly guilty. “I’ll tell you what; why don’t I just come by now, and we can talk about it?” I could always bring along a cattle prod in case he got too out of hand.
“I’m afraid I’m going to be…uh…busy this morning, Mr. Hardesty,” he said, his voice, like a fluid transmission, shifting from scorned bitch to coy suitor once again. “Five thirty would be much better. I should be…through…by then.”…a girlish giggle. “Oh, yes, and I have some more money for you. And you will tell me everything you’ve been doing on the case, won’t you?”
“Yes, of course. Look, I don’t mean to press you, but perhaps if you could give me some clue over the phone, I’d be able to do something on it today and have something more for you by this evening.” Tell me, you twit!
“Well, maybe just a little clue won’t hurt. As I say, you probably already know, but…” There was a muted sound of bells in the background. Rholfing’s voice regained its excited tone. “Oh, dear, I’m sorry, but my gentleman caller has arrived. I must go. See you at five thirty. Ta-taaa.” And with that, he hung up.
I held the receiver to my ear for a full five seconds before finally hanging up. A quick knotting in the pit of my stomach told me something was wrong. Very wrong. Oh, God, what was it? I felt like I’d eaten a cannon ball. My mind raced through the file cabinets of my memory, frantically searching for…something.
Oh, shit! ShitShitShit! I fumbled frantically through my address book, looking for Rholfing’s number. Finding it at last, I dialed, cursing the phone company for the slowness of its equipment. An eternity passed, and finally…a busy signal! A fucking busy signal!
I literally ran out of the office, mentally fighting with myself to keep from panicking.
I made it to Rholfing’s apartment as fast as I could. Every inch of the way, my mind kept repeating: Alan Rogers, Gene Harriman, Arthur Granger, Clete Barker, Arnold Klein. Let me be wrong about Rholfing’s ‘gentleman caller’! Let it not be who I think it is!
Rogers, Harriman, Granger, Barker, and Klein: Rholfing didn’t know they were dead!
The 9th Man is a compelling mystery novel of the Dick Hardesty series. Hardesty is a homosexual private investigator trying to earn a living in a trade that’s rough on all genders and all sexual orientations. Hardesty is hired to find a murderer; as the body count rises, he realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer who is apparently being ignored by the police because all of the victims are gay. Enthusiastically recommended for all mystery fans, The 9th Man is a tense, contemplative, superbly crafted reading.