“I’m a fireman and I’ve got the hose to prove it.”
Will Nick find a new career? Will Nick and Carter get through a dinner without interruption? Will our boys ever be able to return to Los Angeles County?
This second installment in Frank Butterfield’s new Nick & Carter series (actually, the old series liberated from its “mystery” mantle) almost ends in a cliffhanger. Well, it certainly ends abruptly, and I was a bit put off. I had QUESTIONS. But the author has such an aggressive timetable for releasing new books, I’m afraid he drives himself too hard.
Let’s set the stage: the year is 1970. Nick is forty-eight and Carter is about to turn fifty. I am fifteen, and will start prep school in the fall, after I drag my poor father around England during the summer for two solid weeks looking at stately homes. Oops. Let myself slip in there, didn’t I?
Well, there you go. For me, this is not quite the same nostalgic look at the bad old days that the earlier books in this series were. This all takes place during my life, and the most shocking thing to me reading this is the fact that, as an adolescent, I was completely oblivious to the idea of closeted gay movie stars and racist television networks. I watched Diahann Carroll avidly as “Julia” on TV; I saw Rock Hudson with Doris Day in “Pillow Talk” on the Saturday afternoon movietime. I had no freaking clue, as a carefully coddled upper-middle-class white boy, that people like Nick and Carter, even as billionaires, might not be able to go to LA because of an outstanding indictment on charges of sodomy. This, mind you, a year AFTER the Stonewall rebellion, about which I knew nothing. By 1971 I acknowledged to myself that I was gay; and by 1975 I would come out at college. But in 1970, that was all an unimaginable future for me.
As Nick and Carter face serious middle age (40 is only practice), they are both yearning to stay at home, which is the Victorian mansion on Nob Hill rebuilt by the Williams family after the 1906 earthquake and fire. On the other hand, Nick is also restless, wanting to do something more than sit around counting his money while handing out hundred-dollar tips. Carter has his publishing house, but for Nick this is something of a mid-life crisis moment.
The central plot focuses on the production launch of a new television series from Monumental Studios, Nick and Carter’s Hollywood enterprise. Out of that spins a marvelous spot-on series of complications dealing with the movie industry’s hypocrisies regarding race and sexuality.
Secondarily, however, Butterfield drops in a rather heart-stopping sub-plot focused on a tragic failure of modern technology that strikes both Nick and Carter where their hearts are. Like the moral and social failure of Hollywood, this subplot reminds us that, for all their wealth and their shiny toys, society continues to fail Nick and Carter, and by extension every non-straight, non-white person.
The only thing of real value that Nick and Carter have is their love, which is as unshakeable now as it was at the beginning of their saga. That is the continuity that keeps me reading. The rest is all smoke and mirrors.
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 979-8605332978
- ASIN: B0848L174H
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 390 g
- Customer Reviews: