You know you are in the hands of a master writer when he can combine suspense with the sharp detail of time and place along with characters that jump off the page. The paranoia of AIDS coupled with rampant homophobia takes the reader back to the Los Angeles of the eighties when it was acceptable for a police detective to chortle, “Let the faggot soak a little longer.”
For those us who lived through the eighties the reference to watching The Golden Girls on Saturday night is one of the rare fond memories of the plague years.
There is a stunning monologue that talks about life before the AIDS pandemic in the hey-day of the 1970’s that moved me to tears. “All those sissy kids who were laughed and snickered at and told they were ugly and scrawny and had to hide from their tormentors after school had transformed into swans with gym-bought muscles.”
Throughout the novel Steve Neil Johnson’s spot-on descriptions like “an archway of gnarling deep-red bougainvillea and steep terra cotta steps” make for glorious vivid reading.
The author elegantly weaves the politics of AIDS, tense procedural plotting, believable mystery twists and an unrequited romance that will flood your eyes.
This excellent book is the fourth in the series but it is so clearly written that it can easily stand alone as a literary stunner.