Philip Croft is a spy for the Queen of England, but he is not some fake James Bond; when the novel starts, Philip is 58 years old and under investigation for being gay. Investigation that implies physical torture to the hand of his same colleagues, betrayed by whom he believed were friends. And Philip will betray other colleagues, sure, brought to the edge by a sadistic man, but nevertheless he will shout the names of other homosexual men in the Service. After this experience, Philip is forced into an early retirement, but in a way this will be the freedom he was always searching.
Philip always lived his homosexuality abroad, in Asian countries were other foreigners profited of their wealth in comparison to the poor local boys. Yes, Philip is not some romance hero in searching for Mr Right; on the contrary, he is more like a sailor with a lover in every Asian Pacific harbours, and with his retirement he didn’t change his customs. Philip will open a gay sauna in London, and spend his winters wandering the Asia and in the end, having a 4 months boyfriend in Philippines, Reynaldo, while at the same time maintaining a friendly relationship with his employee in London, Kwan, and with an in-house boyfriend at home, Robin. And before and after these new boyfriends, he had always saved the memory of the love of his life, Tom.
There is a dark side in Philip the author is not willing to hide: Philip’s passion for young men, barely legally boys, borders into paedophilia, and indeed there are men in the circle of Philip’s friends that probably are not stranger to that; the same Philip is tempted, but for various reason he will never lapse, even if, only having being tempted is a nightmare that will always haunt Philip’s life.
Doing a balance of the pros and cons of Philip, he has to come out with more positive traits since, in the end, he will find a young man, Robin, who will be faithful to him until the end. And yes, the author chooses to accompany the reader until the end of Philip’s life, an end that is no bad, an end that will see Philip old and not alone, but maybe a little haunted by one too many ghosts. But you could say that he has so many ghosts since he had so many years to live and love.
Amazon: The Rice Queen Spy
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Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Senneff House Publishers; First Edition edition (September 10, 2007)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott
Cover Art by Steve Walker