The Constant Caprese (A Nick Williams Mystery) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/4/12
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Tuesday, September 10, 1957
Nick and Carter have left Nice and, after sailing down the Italian coast, have dropped anchor at the island of Procida, just across the bay from the Naples coast.
Nick, as he is wont to do, meets the one homosexual who works at the local post office and, in short order, is invited to dinner along with Carter to meet the entire family. Italians, after all, are so friendly!
Meanwhile, Lord Gerald, their friend in British intelligence, has sent a cryptic telegram asking them to take a package over to Capri, an island on the far side of the Bay of Naples.
When they dock at Capri the next morning, they find a dying duke, an eccentric earl, and a vigilant viscount all living together in a glorious villa dating back to the turn of the century. These are the final remnants of the once-thriving community of homosexual Englishmen who made the Italian island their sanctuary where they could live in peace as themselves.
But is someone haunting this idyllic Mediterranean paradise? Who cut the phone line for no apparent reason? Who opened the locked door and then unlocked it again? Who is playing pranks with the plumbing? Maybe these are all just coincidences... Or maybe there is something more sinister afoot...
Come sail away with Nick and Carter to the Island of Capri and find out!
Having fled their gilded prison in Nice (Nizza in Italian), the boys, guided by their trusty captain O’Reilly on a new, smaller sailing yacht, explore the coastal towns of southern Italy—Procida, Naples, and finally Capri. They are ostensibly killing time until they can figure out a “way home,” meaning San Francisco, with the idea of returning to Australia to fulfill a promise they made many books ago to a now-deceased friend. But fate seems to have them in its sights again.
One consistent motif that has threaded through this extensive series is the ghost of Nick’s great-uncle Paul Williams, the vastly rich and notoriously queer figure who left Nick his fortune. He shows up in Nick’s dreams, offering advice, but also raising questions. Uncle Paul is important in this volume, because Nick and his beloved Carter are, literally and figuratively, at sea.
Capri, celebrated a century ago as a sort of “Fantasy Island” for rich homosexual Brit exiles, male and female, becomes a kind of touch point in Nick and Carter’s journey. Here they encounter a whole gaggle of men of varying ages, ethnicities and classes, who embody the social and emotional conflicts that Nick and Carter have experienced in their life together, and distill it into a clear, sharp truth: Nick and Carter are special, and they have a place in the world, a destiny, that matters. Never has Frank Butterfield gotten quite so existential as he does on this romantic, rocky, sun-baked island.
Of course there are several mysterious deaths, one of which is even tragic. There are plenty of eccentric and amusing characters, lush descriptions of the island and its people; and we also finally get the full story about Nick and Carter’s elusive friend, Gerald Whitcombe. And therein lies quite a startling tale, offering our boys a new insight into what their notoriety means in the larger picture of history.
Sounds portentous doesn’t it?
Once again, as with the last book, “The Leaping Lord,” this book feels poised on the precipice of something new—which, at #20, is pretty astounding. This series is not winding down. Frank Butterfield’s vivid imagination and love of history (and obsession with describing everybody’s height, weight, age and coloring—something I appreciate) is not petering out.
We’ve come a long way from the little house in San Francisco. Where will Frank take us next?