The Voluptuous Vixen (Nick Williams Mystery) ペーパーバック – 2017/3/4
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Wednesday, August 11, 1954
Nick and Carter are sailing across the sea to Honolulu on an impromptu holiday.
For the sake of propriety and decorum, the ship's captain pairs them off with a "lady couple" who turn out to be much more than they appear at first glance.
When one of them turns up dead in Nick and Carter's cabin, the hunt is on to find the other one before it's too late.
There is nothing really new to say, as a reviewer, except that the adventure in “Voluptuous Vixen” is rather fun, for two distinct reasons. One, it takes place on an ocean liner called the Hilo, bound from San Francisco to Honolulu in 1954. Owing to an absurd snafu at Marnie’s wedding, Nick and Carter end up on the cruise, realizing that they are sorely in need of some real rest. The description of the ship itself, and the way people traveled in the 1950s (with steamer trunks and black-tie for dinner), is all wonderfully laid out for us—and this nostalgic look into the past is part and parcel of what makes these books so engaging. Secondly, Butterfield has decided to bring in real celebrities, in the person of Rosalind Russell and Gale Storm (of My Little Margie fame, one of the biggest early TV show hits). Russell and her husband Freddie Brisson (a great story in itself about which I knew nothing) become real participants in the narrative. This is a moment when the author drives home the fact that both Nick and Carter are indeed notorious—celebrities in their own right—and thus even more like superheroes to the embattled gay folk of the fifties. For all their wealth and power, Nick and Carter are still subject to the deeply-held homophobia of conformist America; and it is those moments of exception—such as Rosalind Russell’s candor and friendship—that bring that reality into high relief.
Butterfield has created this series with a careful balance of romanticism and historical clarity. They are meant to be rosy-colored, but the darkness always lingers at the edges. We know this is a fantasy, and that no gay guys ever lived who were like Carter and Nick; the gay world of post-War America had no heroes to give them hope amidst their (our) oppression. Gosh, I wish these books could be made into a “Masterpiece Theater”-like series of mysteries, with great production values. It is, perhaps, a reminder of the homophobia still very present in the world that such a notion is still an impossible dream.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Nick and Carter.
I loved this. I hated the bigotry and nastiness of the uninformed- the snide comments on their relationship and the continued presence of the curse of the Hearst newspapers trying to slander Nick and company at every crossroad.! Frank Butterfield wrote a good story and a joy to read. His use of period established ship customs was great. His observations about dress and social norms-right on the mark.. But the inventive use of Hollywood as it moves from film and stage to television and the people who populated it in the late 50's was keenly observed and woven into the dialogue. I can't wait for more Nick Williams!