Its title notwithstanding, the latest entry in Wilcox's (Switchback) San Francisco-based Lt. Frank Hastings mystery series exhibits little risk and even a few miscalculations. Returning home from a gay bar to his AIDS-stricken lover, Charles Hardaway is fatally beaten. The police suspect random gay-bashing, but readers are aware that Charles's assailant knew his victim. In ensuing convoluted scenes, two cases of blackmail surface, the target of both being a golden-boy senatorial aspirant under the thumb of his shrewd wife and her power-hungry father. Unfortunately, readers know the who, why, where and how of the case not long after the story passes the halfway point, and the tepid conclusion adds no surprises. Annoying overwriting (Wilcox seldom uses a single word or phrase when two or three will do) and intrusive melodramatics (``In the two words... Hastings could hear the echoes of a lifetime lived in the shadow of society's contempt'') further mar the plot's development. A subplot involving Hastings's attraction to Janet Collier, a female cop, goes nowhere; and the handling of Collier's relations with her male counterparts is woefully stereotypical. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/1995 Release date: 09/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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