When a celebrated gay English surgeon's young lover announces that he plans to marry (somebody--he declares he hasn't chosen whom), he launches a brittle melodrama of plots and counterplots that end with the surgeon's near escape (alas) from death. Sir Lucas Salik is a London press hero, because he operates on little children with bad hearts; but what the press doesn't know about him--and what a gaggle of gay guys, rich dowagers, and aristocratic fanatics of various kinds do--is that he also likes to sneak out at night and be beaten by, well, not little children but adolescent boys. So when Sir Lucas decides to procure a wife for the one true love of his life--Hal, a craven young tough who seems about to desert Sir Lucas--and when Lucas later is beaten to within an inch of his life, suspicion falls on a succession of types: the street boys he's addicted to, animal-rights activists who have been plaguing him about his experiments with dogs and cats, a disaffected parent of an uncured patient. Of course, his attacker turns out to be Hal--who's gone along with Lucas's matchmaking scheme involving a pregnant girl named Cora because he was paid by Cora's baby's father to do it, but then was paid more (at least in flattery) to kill Sir Lucas, by the above-mentioned animal-rights activists, who, in turn, turn out to be old friends of Sir Lucas's aristocratic best friend Anne. . . But all ends happily, with Sir Lucas settled in Anne's Scottish mansion and named honorary father of Cora's baby, while dastardly Hal rots in jail. If you have anything else to read this season--read it first.