Ages ago I read a detective novel which I remember very little about, and the few things I do remember are not very helpful for googling it. Maybe somebody here can help me with it.

One thing I distinctly remember is that one of the police officers was a gay man, and I think he was pretty much the main character. In one scene, that character and a younger police officer (?) go to Karaoke, and the younger guy sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart". I think the younger guy was also gay, and seemed interested in the older guy.

I think the book was part of a series (and not the first one in the series), and it might have been set in Scotland.

That is basically all I remember about it, sadly, and those things seem so oddly specific that I am not entirely sure if this book actually exists or I'm just getting confused.

Any ideas?

  • Ah, I had a moment, seeing the title, when I thought I knew this one, but it was a standalone novel with a more closeted character, and not in Scotland. Aug 22, 2020 at 13:53
  • 1
    I'm not 100% sure if it was set in Scotland - may well have been somewhere else in the UK. But it was a fairly regular police procedural, unlike the novel you describe in your answer, so I can definitely rule it out.
    – user10704
    Aug 22, 2020 at 14:27
  • Probably not Liam McIlvanney's The Quaker which seems to be set in the 1960s; it's about a gay Catholic cop from the Highlands tracking a serial killer in Glasgow.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 26, 2022 at 14:13
  • Possibly one of Reginald Hills Dalziel and Pascoe series? They are set in Yorkshire, and, after Dalziel and Pascoe themselves, I believe the most important police character is Detective-Sargent Edgar Wield. I think Hill paid a lot of attention to his difficulties being gay in Northern England.
    – Barnaby
    Jun 1, 2022 at 1:15
  • Ann Cleeves (author of the Shetland and Vera series of detective novels) has started a new series about a gay detective in Devon - but the first one was only published in 2019, so not 'ages ago'. Sep 4, 2023 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


I don't think this is your book, but I'm posting this as a partial answer that matches the title so that it might help further querents. When I was in high school, I read John Peyton Cooke's The Chimney Sweeper, which is indeed about a gay policeman, but it's a standalone novel and it isn't set in Scotland.

... Kinky gay noir mystery which is not porn but has it darkly erotic moments. A drifter who is homophobic (clearly because he is fighting his same-sex urges kills a transvestite who has tried to force him to have sex, stuffs her body up a chimney in an abandoned house, and leaves town. A couple of years later, as he slowly gives in to his attractions, he is now a kept man and an openly gay cop--though he still doesn't not identify as gay personally--in that town. When the body in the chimney is found, he fears he will fall under suspicion. All the erotic scenes in this novel are tied to perversity of some sort, and the central character is very well written. However, the last quarter of the book goes so over-the-top (bondage leading to threat of emasculation) that I found myself chuckling where I clearly should not have been. Still, the overall atmosphere is compelling and memorable, and I look forward to reading more by this author.

If you only read the earlier parts of the book, it starts with the protagonist's high school years, where he has an older female (I can't remember if it was a neighbor or his mother) making casts of his penis to be made into either female sex toys or candles meant to be used as such, and there's a non-consensual scene where he believes that a teacher at school wants to have sex with him, so he forces her into it, seemingly to no future repercussions.

  • how interesting, I thought people who swept chimneys were called chimney sweeps. I was unaware of the sweeper locution
    – verbose
    Mar 19, 2023 at 23:18
  • @verbose - They are; chimney-sweeper is archaic Sep 11, 2023 at 14:58

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