Robert Taylor, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-28481-7

Set in Washington, D.C., and Texas, Taylor's derivative sophomore effort (following The Innocent) shadows the Mathew Sheppard atrocity of 1998 in a sentimental, soap opera–styled tale of love, hate and redemption. As the story begins, narrator Ian McBride is crushed by the death of his lover of eight years, Trevor, from AIDS, while Trevor's family hides in shame. The subsequent 12 years of loneliness and depression find Ian, an actor, keeping "safe" in the "elaborately constructed defenses" of books and his theater work at the Capitol Rep in Washington, where he's cast in a production of The Tempest. Soon enough, he is impressed by and reluctantly attracted to young Jimmy Davidson (playing Ariel) and a passionate whirlwind romance ignites. Months later, a production of A Long Day's Journey into Night is on the horizon for the committed couple, but first, Jimmy heads off to his hometown in Texas for his mother's 50th birthday and never returns. He is violently killed in a hate crime that sets off a stagy, overlong courtroom trial and media circus pitting homophobic townspeople against Ian and Jimmy's family, some of whom, like Jimmy's grandmother Livie, Ian bonds with. Justice is duly served, but a mawkish, implausible conclusion undoes any legitimacy gained along the way. Taylor is capable of flourishes of moving prose, and the book's reflection of Sheppard's death evokes painful nostalgia. Readers able to overlook all of the saccharine melodrama will find a worthy narrative buried beneath, inspired by a tragedy that will forever astound and devastate. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 238 pages - 978-1-56023-648-1
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