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Knock Off The Hat: A Clifford Waterman Gay…
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Knock Off The Hat: A Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery (edition 2022)

by Richard Stevenson (Author)

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Lambda Literary Award-winning author delves into the sudden and extraordinary wave of gay-bashing in 1940s Philadelphia. It's steaming August in post-war Philadelphia. Clifford Waterman, dishonorably discharged from the Army for "an indecent act with a native" in Cairo, can't go back to his job as a police detective and is struggling to make a go of it as a private investigator. He's soon hired to help a young man caught in a gay bar raid who can't afford the $500 bribe a corrupt judge demands to make a "morals charge" go away. In the blink of an eye, an entire gay neighborhood is suddenly under siege, and Waterman has to find out why the cops, courts, and the city powers that be have unleashed a wave of brutal gay-bashing--astonishing even for that time and place. Kept moving by Jim Beam, bluesy jazz, and a stubborn sense of outsider's pride, Waterman makes his way through Philadelphia's social, political, and financial swamp to rescue a few unlucky souls and inflict at least a bit of damage to the rotten system that would lead to the Stonewall rebellion in New York City 22 years later.… (more)
Member:P_T_Mack
Title:Knock Off The Hat: A Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery
Authors:Richard Stevenson (Author)
Info:Amble Press (2022), 200 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:gay mystery

Work Information

Knock Off The Hat: A Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery by Richard Stevenson (Pseudonym)

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Knock Off the Hat is the first volume in what I hope will be an ongoing series that improves with time. The central character, Clifford Waterman, is a former police officer and WWII veteran, dishonorably discharged for being gay, currently working as a private investigator. Waterman's an interesting character: comfortable with his own homosexuality, but resigned to the status quo of bar life and the constant threat of harassment or violence from the police.

Knock off the Hat opens in the aftermath of a police bar raid. For years, gay men have been able to get morals charged dropped via an unethical and homophobic judge (known as "The Hat") for a payment of $50. Suddenly that price is raised to $500, far more money than many men can raise, dooming them to public exposure and a shattered life—or suicide. Waterman is hired to try to find a way around this price increase, through a mix of investigation and favors from others. From there the story grows more complex.

I enjoyed the novel, but the writing style felt heavy-handed—almost as if the sentences were soldiers dutifully marching past me in formation. I realize that description may not make sense, but it definitely describes my experience reading Knock Off the Hat. I expect, however, that this is a series where both the style and the characters will grow more satisfyingly complex over time, and I will definitely have an eye open for the next volume.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via EdelweissPlus; the opinions are my own. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Apr 1, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stevenson, RichardPseudonymprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipez, RichardAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Lambda Literary Award-winning author delves into the sudden and extraordinary wave of gay-bashing in 1940s Philadelphia. It's steaming August in post-war Philadelphia. Clifford Waterman, dishonorably discharged from the Army for "an indecent act with a native" in Cairo, can't go back to his job as a police detective and is struggling to make a go of it as a private investigator. He's soon hired to help a young man caught in a gay bar raid who can't afford the $500 bribe a corrupt judge demands to make a "morals charge" go away. In the blink of an eye, an entire gay neighborhood is suddenly under siege, and Waterman has to find out why the cops, courts, and the city powers that be have unleashed a wave of brutal gay-bashing--astonishing even for that time and place. Kept moving by Jim Beam, bluesy jazz, and a stubborn sense of outsider's pride, Waterman makes his way through Philadelphia's social, political, and financial swamp to rescue a few unlucky souls and inflict at least a bit of damage to the rotten system that would lead to the Stonewall rebellion in New York City 22 years later.

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