The Lure – Felice Picano

TLIt is the sort of book some of us don’t normally read: a crime/detective novel. It’s not a world many of us know much about: rich crooks, violence, drugs, bent policemen, where you cannot trust anybody because nobody is what they seem to be.

One of our members thought that it was a typical detective story in that nothing important happens between the finding of a corpse and the  dénouement, the discovery of ‘whodunit’ at the end. Everything in between is ‘a plot disaster’. Another, however, thought it was a clever use of the detective genre to introduce the gay underworld at a time when most people hardly knew that it existed and to chart a voyage of self-knowledge which passes through choppy waters. (Though that would have been better portrayed had the book been written in the first person) It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously but then, suddenly, it does. Is the cook who is into martial arts meant to reflect the author’s sense of humour?

‘A touching period piece,’ said one member of our group, ‘A lot better than some of the junk/trash we sometimes read.’

‘Not hard work,’ said another, ‘a ripping read. Lots of tension’

As one of our members said, “Despite being put off by the personality of the author as revealed in the Preface, I was surprised that I loved the book and perhaps for the following reasons:

1. Its pace seemed to match that of the time…i.e. speed and cocaine fuelled

2. The posh sluttiness of it all and how superficial it was (J G Ballard would have liked the empty decadence)

3. Heroic attempts to describe certain aspects of gay culture from sex to clubbing; especially the clubbing, it struck a ‘real’ note in terms of how I imagined Studio 54 culture might be – and what a country cousin British gay clubbing probably was in comparison…

4. gay businesses was interesting and could have been better explained

However,  5. The psychological stuff towards the end was daft…

6. having to suspend disbelief that he didn’t check out it was the police from the go get.”

There are some vivid descriptions: of an acid tip, of the vibrant music in a night club where you can feel the pulse coming from the speakers in your arteries. Straight sex is described better than gay sex

Some bits are unconvincing: that straight academic can transform himself within eight hours and pass as gay without anyone suspecting that he is a plant, a spy.

There are some less than felicitous descriptions, e.g. ‘’Her hair like a thick curtain of night sky.’ And a loose end: What happened to the motorbike?

Something I had to look up: an 86 – to refuse to serve an unwelcome customer, coined after Chumley’s bar and restaurant at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, New York City and not to be confused with an eighty-eight which involves doping something odd with a two-headed dildo.

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