Author: Haley Walsh
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Skyler and his friends go to Palm Springs for the annual White Party and find murder!
Out and proud high school English teacher Skyler Foxe and his posse of friends go to the annual Palm Springs White Party for a weekend of fun, frivolity, and luscious men. But there are boy troubles of all kinds ahead. Skyler’s boyfriend and high school coach Keith Fletcher has to endure an embarrassing number of Skyler’s former hook-ups, one of the SFC might be going solo, Skyler encounters unexpected and unwelcome participants at the party, and there’s a murder on the dance floor, literally at Skyler’s feet! Both Skyler and Keith are drawn into investigating more than murder when the FBI asks Skyler to do the unthinkable.
Skyler Foxe is pretty much my fantasy twink. Haley Walsh has done a marvelous job of building up this character in her series of (so far) five novels. In spite of the fact that he’s teaching high school English in Redlands, California, Skyler is, physically and emotionally, still very much where I was at his age (which, although 35 years ago, I remember vividly).
I only dwell on this because the underlying motif of gradual maturation has run through all of the Foxe novels—which form sort of a gay Gidget/That Girl/Friends world (to span three generations of silly TV) in which our twink hero and his band of merry men seek truth, justice and a fun night out.
Walsh is clever with the plot contrivances, excellent at creating screwball repartee and comic action with just enough edge of danger to keep it from getting too sweet.
Because, as is true with all of the best books, plot and character balance each other, and together create the narrative momentum that keeps the reader engaged.
A central thread in the story line is the evolving relationship between Skyler and Keith—the older (but still young) FBI-agent-cum-football-coach. While I have to roll my eyes at the faint daddy/twink dynamic here (as does Skyler himself, by the way), I appreciate the set-up that places Keith and Skyler in different gay camps. Skyler was a party boy, a proud bottom and unapologetic slut. No slut-shaming in this book. Skyler’s friends (but for his BFF Sidney Feldman, a feisty female cop he’s known all his life) are all former hookups (NOT boyfriends) who have all become each other’s posse. All of these boys have enjoyed their youth and beauty to the fullest—and each of them has been surprised by love.
Which brings me to Keith. I like that Walsh had made Keith more circumspect sexually. He was never a party boy, and didn’t hook up much. He is not mocked or praised for this—it is merely a fact of who he is.
Where it gets interesting is that Keith has to continually deal with Skyler’s past—parts of which makes up a good deal of their social life. When Skyler and his gang haul Keith to Palm Springs for the White Party, Keith is faced even more vividly with the reality of just how popular Skyler’s perfect little white buns were before they met.
Although I loved the action, and the “I Love Lucy” meets “Batman” hijinks (Skyler’s word); what struck me most was a single comment that Sidney makes when she is unwittingly sucked into the looming mess in Palm Springs. Worrying about Skyler, as she has done all his life, she comments to herself that she was amazed he never contracted HIV. This comment brought me up short. Because it strikes a little close to home.
Maybe it really is just my generation, but the party-boy-hookup scene that Skyler and his friends have inhabited so gleefully (obviously, using protection) is not so different from the one I knew in the late 1970s and early 80s. Except for the fact that so many of the pretty twinks like Skyler didn’t survive to be my age. There are too many sad memories sparked by Skyler’s story that can’t help but send a shiver down my spine.
Skyler and his buds have all paired off—even Sidney has a boyfriend with whom she shares her job and her life. “Desert Foxe” is something of a watershed in Keith and Skyler’s relationship. I can’t wait to see how Walsh continues to develop these two, as Skyler’s past recedes ever further and his present becomes ever more grown up.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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