Knock Off The Hat by Richard Stevenson


A dishonorably discharged World War II vet takes a job as a private investigator and begins looking into a sudden and extraordinary wave of gay-bashing in Philadelphia.


It’s steaming August 1947, 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.

Richard Stevenson’s Knock Off The Hat was named one of the 12 Best Thrillers and Mystery Novels of 2022 by The Washington Post.

Click here to see what other books made the cut.

“The pioneering author of the legendary Don Strachey mysteries takes us back to “the good old days” of 1940’s Philadelphia in a vivid evocation of the brutal oppression visited on the gay community as well as that community’s endurance and resilience. PI Clifford Waterman addresses injustice with wit, resourcefulness, defiance, and, best of all, retribution.” —Katherine V. Forrest, author of the Kate Delafield mysteries

“Gripping, evocative and turn-of-the-screw suspenseful, Knock Off The Hat is a brilliantly paced and startlingly immersive barnstormer. With firecracker prose, Stevenson brings the jungle hot streets of post-war Philly to life and deftly reminds us that nothing is stronger than a community besieged.” —P.J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus 

RICHARD STEVENSON was the pseudonym of Richard Lipez, author of 18 books, including the Don Strachey private eye series. A former editorial writer at The Berkshire Eagle, Lipez reviewed mysteries and thrillers for The Washington Post.  His reporting, reviews, and fiction have appeared in Newsday, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and The Progressive, among others. Four of the Strachey books were filmed by HereTV.  Nominated for four Lambda Awards for Best Gay Mystery, his book Red White Black and Blue won the award in 2011.  Lipez grew up and was educated in Pennsylvania and taught in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. Richard passed away on March 18, 2022—he was 83.

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