The Stymied Star (A Nick Williams Mystery) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/7/27
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Wednesday, November 30, 1960
It's three in the morning when the newly-installed Princess phone (with illuminated dial) next to Carter's side of the bed starts to insistently ring.
Raymond Burr from TV's Perry Mason is calling and he's in a bit of a pickle.
Someone stashed a corpse in his on-studio cottage and he's worried about how this might affect the show.
Nick and Carter fly down where they find a handsome stiff. He was a former personal assistant and wanna-be actor who turned to one of the best-paying gigs in town: male companion.
And he had a little black book chock full of famous names, home phone numbers, and careers that could easily be ruined.
But only one of them is a murderer and it's up to Nick and Carter to find out who it might be...
In the seemingly endless supply of story arcs that Frank Butterfield’s fertile brain dishes out for our guys, Nick Williams and Carter Jones, this story of a Hollywood murder and a closeted celebrity should be just another fun stop in the adventures of the two richest and most famous gay men in the world.
It is, and it isn’t. Yeah, we’ve got an uptight Raymond Burr, who’s the kind of closeted celebrity who will come to Nick and Carter for their help, and then snub them for fear of guilt by association. And we’ve also got Barbara Hale (Della Street for Perry Mason) and her friend Rosalind Russell, who is as genuine a friend as Nick and Carter have in LaLa Land.
However, the core of this story is to remind us, once again, that even Nick and Carter’s vast wealth, and all of the very public good they do for the people of America, can’t stop the haters, who seek to bring them down because they’re gay and deserve to suffer because of it.
The book is also a reminder that Nick Williams can’t save them all: all the boys who are cut loose because of who they are. Not every gay man can make a go of it in the world, not even with Nick’s help, and the tragedy at the center of this story involves one of those lost boys. I can’t go into the details, but it is a gut-wrenching story of the Hollywood industry, police homophobia, and the unhappy truths of the start of the 60s. I was five years old when this book takes place; the challenges I would face as a gay man were a long way off.
The miracle of Nick and Carter is that they have money, but – more importantly – they have a network of friends who genuinely love them, and do their utmost to care for them. Both Nick and Carter realize that money doesn’t buy them happiness, but family and friends do.
Butterfield mixes nostalgia and ugly reality in clever proportions, to draw his readers into his stories, setting them up for the emotional one-two-punch that inevitably lurks somewhere inside. These books are like addictive snacks: I won’t stop until they’re all gone. Fortunately, Nick is just 38 and Carter is 40: there’s a long road ahead for all of us.