In Shock To The System, a frightened college student Paul Hale hires Albany based private eye Donald Starchey (Chad Allen) to find someone, but before Paul can tell Donald who he seeks, he is found dead. A coroner and detective rule his death as a suicide due to apparent alcohol and drugs in his bloodstream. Donald suspects foul play and aided by Hale’s mother Phyllis (Morgan Fairchild) decides to find out what is going on, and goes undercover at the Phoenix Foundation, a reparative therapy institution led by Dr. Trevor Cornell (Michael Woods) and his wife Lynn (Anne Marie Loder).
Donald goes into the foundation as ‘Kyle’ where gays and lesbians can find their true path to heterosexuality. Paul Hale was to become a poster boy for the foundation as it planned a nationwide expansion. The therapy becomes personal for Donald as he opens up to his partner Tim Callaghan (Sebastian Spence) about his own less than happy gay past. The longer Kyle spends time with the recipients of therapy, the more details he gets about the estrangement between them and Paul that occurred shortly before his death, as he works to solve the mystery.
“This is a sly, refreshingly grown-up gay entertainment.”
— Nathan Lane, The New York Times
Did You Know?
Shock To The System is the second in the series of gay mystery novels written under the pseudonym of Richard Stevenson by the writer Richard Lipez. There are eight in total and two of the books have been made into film. The other Third Man Out was released in 2005. Review our Gay Themed Films here