Belle Harbor Skeletons
by Susan M. Hooper
Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 1414013728
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
Arnie Kotkin and Barnaby Moss are lifelong friends in the small town of Lawton, NY. Girls were never an important part of their lives while growing up. Their decision to live together as a gay couple, while not exactly a surprise, elicits two very different family reactions, the subject of this book.
The Moss family comes from a lower-middle class background, and always placed the health and well-being of their children above material possessions, anyway. If Barnaby is happy as a gay person, that’s all that matters. The Kotkin’s live in Belle Harbor, the rich part of town. Thelma, Arnie’s mother, is a social climber with an inordinate interest in what others think of the family. Arnie’s coming out is an absolute disaster, for her, and she lets Arnie know it. She can just imagine the whispering that will go on around town, now that they have a . . .queer in the family.
A few days later, Arnie is informed that his father has had a heart attack. Rushing to the hospital with Barnaby, and Helene and Jack Fentnor, Arnie’s aunt and uncle who are visiting, they are confronted by Jimmy, one of Arnie’s brothers. He is a medical student at the hospital and very much takes after his mother in being a self-centered jerk. He takes great exception to Barnaby’s presence, and, in front of everyone, takes out a gun and shoots Barnaby, wounding him in the shoulder.
The incident becomes news, jeopardizing Arnie’s teaching job at the local elementary school. Barnaby is released after a couple of days (HMO). Thelma begins to realize that there is more to life than worrying about the opinion of others. A few days later, another tragedy strikes the Kotkin family. Freddie and Jerry, Arnie’s other brothers, were in a car that was deliberately forced off the road by another car. Freddie escaped with minor injuries, but Jerry was killed. Arnie and Barnaby decide that they had better do some fast crime solving, because someone has certainly targeted the Kotkin family. Amid everything else, Helene and Jack let Arnie in on some deep, dark family secrets.
This isn’t just a good "gay novel," or a good mystery or a good story about family secrets, it’s a really good novel, overall. It moves easily, and will certainly keep the reader involved.