Let me explain why I think Richard Stevenson is, page for page, word for word, the best gay mystery writer around.
First, there's the whole "gay mystery" issue. You don't have to be gay to enjoy Stevenson's clever, crafty mysteries. The books are funny and intelligent. The political tone is non-strident and therefore convincing. The main characters are people who happen to be gay, instead of (as, for example, in Mark Richard Zubro's mysteries) gays who happen to be people.
Secondly, Stevenson is the real thing. A MYSTERY writer. Not a stylist capitalizing on his sexual orientation (see Michael Nava). This man plots. He twists, he turns, he ties up loose ends.
Thirdly, Stevenson manages to be both funny as hell and insightful. Why is the tendency to think that a funny book is somehow not as serious (read "good") as, for example, a book where the alcoholic hero can't keep it together with his young, HIV-positive lover? Personally I think Stevenson has a more relevant message for his gay audience, even if it is positive. Glance over some of the Timmy and Don exchanges, especially in the first three books of the series, and see if they aren't just plain smarter than anything the competition (poetry spouting not withstanding) ever dreampt of in his universe.
Lastly but not leastly, Stevenson creates amusing, believable characters not stereotypes. The man has a wicked gift for caricature, and yet there are shades of sympathy in these portraits drawn from both the gay and straight community. And of course there is the always intriguing partnership of Stevenson's own odd couple, Strachey and Timmy. In fact, if this novel has a weakness it is the dearth of those Timmy and Strachey International Coffee Moments.
In conclusion, I'm willing to concede that given the shortage of gay mysteries--let alone excellent gay mysteries--Stevenson doesn't have a lot of competition, so it's hard to really judge him. After all, he does have one fatal weakness as an author: he doesn't churn them out nearly fast enough