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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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Top Customer Reviews
At that time, there were witch hunts for gays in the military, and you might wonder, who would endeavor to catch folks in the act of sodomy? Self loathing closeted gays would, that's who. You may say, oh, but those don't exist do they? Just have a look at the news recently and you can see that they do. Rich Merritt's book is full of compelling characters such as these and more. My question is who is going to produce the movie? The novel certainly has enough action scenes to support a feature film.
This is a very important book for all Military personnel to read so that they will understand how their gay counterparts feel about having to hide or worse yet, lie about their sexual identities to serve their country. This book serves that purpose perfectly as does Rich's first book, Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star. All Americans with any interest in the Military in this country or in Politics should read this book.
Once I started reading 'Code', from the first page, it was literally a page-turner that pulled me into the reality of the situations, and took me on a rollercoaster ride of intrigue, suspense, heartache, and satisfaction. I couldn't stop until I finished. This story took me way beyond my connection to the Marine Corps, or a nostalgic trip through Southern California. It reinforced my antipathy for bigotry in all its forms, with its honest depiction of the way it was/is, and probably won't change in my lifetime.
I am an avid voracious reader with eclectic tastes. Only a few writers have pulled me into a story and kept me reading, non-stop, to the end. Rich Merritt has been added to that list.
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.