Boystown 9: Review

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Boystown 9: Lucky Days
by Marshall Thornton
Kenmore Books

Reviewed by John Francis Leonard

It’s 1984, Reagan is running for his second term and private eye Nick Nowak has his hands full again. He’s working for the defense for mobster Jimmy English, whose trial is beginning, and a handsome young man, with blood-drenched clothes from a night out he can’t remember, shows up at his office looking for answers. What follows is a tense, well paced thriller which highlights the skills Thornton picked up with an MFA in screenwriting at UCLA. Reading it, I was able to visualize it fully. It was like watching a great detective film.

Thornton brings to life an era beautifully, the eighties in all that was great and much of what was bad. Time and place are evoked with much skill and with cultural details I myself had forgotten. Of course you can’t tell a tale about the life of any gay man and his friends in the eighties without talking about AIDS. Nick’s former partner Ross, who is living with the disease, is here in this book again. He is still living with Nick and his lover, Joseph, and is doing well. Also mentioned again is an ex who has already passed. The shadow of the disease falls heavily on Nick and Joseph. They both have come into sexual contact with men who had AIDS before the recent advent of safe sex with condoms. The development of a conclusive test for the virus is still on the horizon. Like in his other books, Thornton writes some great sex scenes, but HIV and its dangers are always a factor just as it was at the time he is writing about. There’s no escaping it.

But, Boystown 9: Lucky Days is not a heavy book at all; it is what it strives to be, a great thriller. Strong characters, well drawn background, and a fantastic plot make this another great detective story in this entertaining, yet thoughtful series.


John Francis Leonard is an advocate and writer, as well as a voracious reader of literature, which helps to feed his love of the English language. He has been living with HIV for thirteen years and he is currently at work on his first novel, Fools Rush In. His fiction has been published in the ImageOutWrite literary journal. Follow him on Twitter @JohnFrancisleo2.