On the battlefields of WWII Europe, Charlie Harris fell in love, and after the war, Roger marched home without a glance back. Ten years later, Charlie receives a cryptic summons and quickly departs for his former lover’s hometown of Whistle Pass.
But Roger Black isn’t the lover of Charlie’s dreams anymore. He’s a married, hard-bitten political schemer who wants to secure his future by destroying evidence of his indiscreet past. Open homosexuality is practically a death sentence, and that photo would ruin Roger and all his wife’s nefarious plans.
Caught up in foggy, tangled events, Charlie turns to hotel manager Gabe Kasper for help, and Gabe is intrigued by the haunted soldier who so desperately desires peace. When helping his new lover places Gabe in danger, the old warrior in Charlie will have to take drastic action to protect him... or condemn them both.
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As always, I'll leave you to the blurb for plot details. But I will tell you the setting was a new one for me.
A town called Whistle Pass, not much of a place in the big scheme of things; but, in story telling, it's a luscious locale that seems all quaint and homey on the surface but underneath that diners-loaded-with-smiles-and-cherry pie veneer is a snake pit of corruption, violence and homophobia. It's a delicious setting straight out of a George Raft movie. And just as noir and tantalizing.
If Whistle Pass was a motion picture and if I was an Oscar judge, I'd---first of all---give the book an award for its rich description of the world the reader is drawn to. KevaD is extremely gifted in transporting us to the era. The imagery, not only in visuals but all the other senses---smells, touches. With KevaD, I'm inside automobiles, sitting in a diner's booth, hiding in dark corners in the rain, looking in a hotel mirror at myself, smelling the freshly lit match, fingering the worn deck of cards, sniffing a dame's strong perfume and----ah, wonderfully last but not least---rolling around in the warm, fresh scents of masculinity and Aqua Velva and the fingers-on-bristly-beard.
Whistle Pass is chock full of sights and sounds I've personally never experienced in fiction---the railroad. The town is a spot where railroaders lay over and I enjoyed the flavor this aspect contributed to the story.
I'd give Whistle Pass an award for characterization. Charlie and Gabe, Roger and his scheming wife, the waitresses in the cafe and all the townsfolk---good guys and bad guys.
Charlie and Gabe are lavishly realistic.
Charlie's no angel, plain and clear. No bones about that. He's a shell-shocked veteran with some boulders on his shoulders all wrapped up in a gorgeous man's body. Virile, steely, slick, rough, seasoned, keen to his surroundings. He's a lumberjack. Oh, yes, I loved that! Wait! What's a lumberjack doing in a noir-type story? Well, read it and find out!
Gabe? Young hotel manager. Sophisticated, swank, dark hair always perfect, good looking, gentle yet strong as a lion when he needs to be. And he has a secret beneath all that sweet kid coating. Yet I adored him and I accepted him and all his frailties and life decisions. I very much loved his loyalty to his friends and to his new lover Charlie.
And, oh, man, oh, man, did I ever FEEL Gabe's longing for Charlie and Charlie's attraction for Gabe. Sizzling. One of those get-together-why-don't-you-already type relationships that I love to read.
Roger. The former lover who wasn't so lovable anymore. But, in spite of his fall from grace (or at least the grace Charlie had fixed in his mind from the past), I still kind of liked Roger. Because he was, underneath it all, just a human, too. A human gone bad and greedy. And, to me, that's a literary accomplishment to develop the protagonist so carefully that the reader can't really hate him even though they want to.
But, alas, Whistle Pass is not a movie. It's a book. So I give it a whopping award for being a book that reads like a wonderful, well-detailed, opulent, lavish big-screen production.