- Paperback: 456 pages
- Publisher: Kensington; FICTG edition (January 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0758222742
- ISBN-13: 978-0758222749
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,372,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Code of Conduct Paperback – January 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Memoirist Merritt (Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star) delivers a thought-provoking fiction on the problem of being gay in the military. As Clinton begins putting the don't ask, don't tell policy into place in the early 1990s, closeted and disturbed Naval Investigative Service Agent Jay Gared goes on a mission to catch violators of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—i.e., the rule that states sodomy is a criminal act. Chief Petty Officer Eddie L. Johnson, who has been switching blood test vials for six years to get around the service's mandatory HIV test, gets into Jay's sights. When Eddie catches Jay snooping in his home, Jay shoots Eddie and fakes Eddie's suicide. Shocked friends and family know better, and for a group of close-knit gay and lesbian military personnel, the suicide is a call to arms. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Donald A. Hawkins, a gay rights advocate, vows to learn the truth. Merritt raises provocative questions and delivers a graphic crime tale.
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When Don Hawkins meets Patrick McAbe, a young helicopter pilot recently relocated to his base, there is an instant attraction, with a feeling of commitment that Don has not experienced since his lover had been killed in Beirut a decade earlier. Patrick is immediately accepted by Don's Air Force "family", and also feels that he may have finally found what he is looking for in life. Unfortunately, neither is aware that their closeknit group is being spied upon by Jay Gared, a member of the Naval Investigative Services, who has a personal vendetta against gay servicepeople. When the deemed suicide of one of their group raises some questions in the others' minds, they do a little investigating of their own, which leads them directly to Jay, who meanwhile has zeroed in on Don and Patrick as a likely gay couple, based on an article about closeted gay servicepeople on that base.
"Code of Conduct" is an extremely ambitious (456 pages, and not an ounce of fluff) novel, full of realistic, likeable characters. The book pretty much has it all, from bitter old alcoholic servicemen to younger ones on drugs, unrequitted love and longterm couples, dishonest journalists to political manipulation, high speed car chases and mid-air disasters. My only "but" in this otherwise-glowing recommendation is the fact that the story's many characters are difficult to figure out at first, with short, frequently changing scenes, and characters being referred to by their first names, sometimes last name, rank or a Marine nickname, making it a bit confusing. Overall, well done, and I give it four stars out of five.
The answer for this book, in both cases, is yes. I agree with other reviewers that the dizzying number of characters in the beginning of the book and (in several cases) the rather thin development of them in the story was the only downside for me. Once you got the names and ranks down, the rest of the story was fantastic and (again like other reviewers) I was emotionally drawn in to their stories and their worlds. Also, for those of us who came of age during the early 90's and the first Clinton administration, the author's capturing that time period was evocative and authentic - it brought back a lot of good memories.
Some of the dialogue was a bit trite and the main antagonist (Jay) never really came together for me, but I still really loved the story.
My MAIN gripe, and this extends to gay fiction in general - is it REALLY necessary to have a headless underwear model on the cover of every book? In this novel's story, there was a beautifully-described photo that would have been a great cover for the book. I understand those types might be appropriate for trashy beach reads, but this book was underserved by the ridiculously overused cover shot. It almost dissuaded me from buying it, and certainly made for raised eyebrows when reading it on a flight from Vegas!