“CODE OF CONDUCT by Rich Merritt (456 page paperback; $15) is a good fictional follow-up to the non-fiction Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star. Admittedly, Merritt’s first novel is a bit of a disappointment following his autobiography, a good example of truth sometimes being more exciting than fiction.
However, standing on its own merits, Code of Conduct is a fascinating, ambitious, exciting novel telling a story that Hollywood bigwigs would surely make into an epic drama – if it weren’t about gay people.
Merritt puts his experience in the U.S. Marines to good use in this book, peppering the plot with details that only a veteran such as he would know. Thanks to Merritt, we learn about an underground society of lesbian and gay service members, who befriend and support one another while maintaining a straight facade to the unforgiving military establishment.
Code of Conduct takes place in the hopeful days of 1993, when newly inaugurated President Bill Clinton promised to abolish the antigay provisions of the military’s Code of Conduct. (And we all know how that one ended.)
While the plot centers on a tragic love story between two Marines – Gunnery Sgt. Don Hawkins and First Lt. Patrick McAbe, a helicopter pilot – Code of Conduct has more characters and situations than one can mention in a brief review. Closeted colonels, repressed Investigative Service agents, homophobic politicians and unscrupulous reporters clash with uniformed men and women who just want to live their lives while serving their country. The result is an exciting read that never lets down, even when we know what’s going to happen next.”
AfterElton also raves about two other Kensington Books. Check it out here.