The adventures of Nick Williams and his husband Carter Jones take our boys even farther afield this time—all the way to the “mysterious orient.” Butterfield has such mastery over the basic story line and his characters now, that each mystery is not a mystery, but an exploration of what it was to be gay in the 1950s from every possible angle. As always, Nick and Carter’s vast wealth isolate them from all of the truly bad things—except for emotions. For all his impatient, privileged tough-guy approach to life, Nick is a weeper; and in book eleven he weeps more than usual. And that’s what I love about Nick, because his heart is as vulnerable as any child’s, for all his devil-may-care exterior.
What drives the main plot this time around is an unlikely quest to rescue the half-Chinese half-sister of Captain Daniel O’Reilly, captain of Nick and Carter’s yacht. There are a couple of sub-plots, including a murder that is the source of this volume’s title.
More importantly, however, are some truths that Nick and Carter face together; truths about childhood, and how each of us is formed by what happens to us when we’re young and stupid and, often, helpless. In learning some unexpected history about his step-mother’s former maid, Geneva, and Carter’s mother, Nick has an epiphany about where he might have turned out differently himself. Former cop Mike Robertson has become such a fixture as the head of Consolidated Security, that we forget he was Nick’s first love, and took him in when Nick’s father threw him out at nineteen. Nick’s own father started out this series as such a supremely nasty guy, it’s hard to fully grasp the man he has become. Butterfield takes such pleasure in exploring these evolving relationships, and it’s a pleasure to read.
As always, it is the interactions of the characters and not the plot itself that is the heart of the book. Fueled by the action, the true point of the narrative, even as our boys buy yet another airplane (with a great provenance!) and fly across the world to Hong Kong is this:
“We’re all family, whether we’re related or not.”
It’s a very simple premise, but no less powerful for all that. As one character reminds Nick and the reader: “Don’t forget Nick. Every moment is wonderful.”
Even in the bad old days, life was wonderful if you had friends. That’s the crux of this series, and it is proving a strong lynchpin to even the most unlikely adventure.
- Paperback: 302 pages
- Publisher: Createspace Independent Pub (1 June 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1547046821
- ISBN-13: 978-1547046829
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
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