When Charlie Harris said goodbye to his lover Roger Black after World War II, he had no reason to believe he would ever see him again. Then came the telegram stating “I need you” and the name of a town: Whistle Pass, Illinois. Even after ten years, Charlie is ready to go to Roger. But Whistle Pass and Roger are not at all what Charlie expected to find. It is a rural Midwestern town, with its corrupt city officials, vigilantes, supper clubs, Lucky Strikes, Old Milwaukees, Desotos, and everything gray and foggy. The one shining light is Gabriel Kasper, the “town queer,” whose caring nature brings ease to Charlie’s shell-shocked dreams. The two are emblems of a distrustful and paranoid time. Can they let each other into their lives while Charlie figures out who sent for him, what they want with him, and why everyone seems to be trying to kill him?
Whistle Pass is as dark as noir, but instead of a big city P.I., the two heroes are simple men trying to live in a time not ready for them. The story is immediately captivating, the characters individual and recognizable, the theme fresh, and the depiction of the mid-1950s dead on without the flash of the usual L.A. setting. The salt of the earth secondary characters are divided between the expected bigots and some warm-hearted people who look to their personal loyalties to an old friend. The love story is fractured, tense, threatened; in spite of a tendency toward gimmicks in the writing and an abridged feel to the prose, KevaD delivers a look at a time just a few years before the march on Washington, the Women’s Movement, and the Stonewall Riots. A book like this is for everyone who wants to know what someone “different” had to face during the stifling era of the Cold War.