During World War II, a gay navy sailor works undercover to catch Nazi spies, in this “fast-moving” novel from the author of Gods and Monsters (Publishers Weekly).
During shore leave in New York, Seaman Second Class Hank Fayette, a Texas country boy in the big city, finds himself visiting a gay brothel, where he is swiftly arrested during a raid. Facing the prospect of a dishonorable discharge—or worse—he is given another option: Return to the brothel, near Manhattan’s West Side piers, and work undercover as a prostitute.
Nazi agents are rumored to haunt the area, and Hank is a perfect lure to trap them. This military man is about to risk his life for his country in a way he never expected in “a spy thriller that breaks new ground” from the author of Eminent Outlaws and The Notorious Dr. August (Kirkus Reviews).
The clever premise of this frothy espionage novel by the author of Surprising Myself is that during World War II there was a gay brothel in lower Manhattan that may have been a hangout for Nazi agents (a rumor of its existence sparked the story, Bram notes in his acknowledgements). When he is discovered to be homosexual, seaman second class Hank Fayette faces a dishonorable discharge unless he agrees to go undercover as a prostitute. The ensuing events are very funny, fast-movingBram is able to juggle characters and plot lines without slackening the paceand, ultimately, emotionally stirring. Hank falls for Juke, the black drag queen who is an attendant at the brothel, and later he develops a crush on a straight man. Bram makes the characters believable, and he takes care not to be anachronistic: by keeping the awkward relationships in their pre-gay-liberation context, he captures the tensions between blacks and whites and gays and non-gays in the New York of the period. There is graphic sex here, but Bram uses it adroitly either to further the spy story, or to explain the undercurrents of real feeling he poignantly conveys. 30,000 first printing; first serial to Christopher Street.