Two teenagers, unlike and inseparable--is it homosexuality? Fifteen-year-old Justin Vincent, cynosure and snob, leads the opposition at a posh Sydney school to that ""bloody little ethnic tyke,"" new classmate Rudi Mayer. But ""Cool Rudi""--a self-willed loner since his Austrian musician father's death--intrigues Justin by going his own imperturbable way; and with a little help from Brahms' ""St. Antony Chorale,"" the two become bosom friends. The turnabout scene is a little sticky, and the mutual devotion of the two boys thereafter is even more so. Consequently, much as one admires Rudi and likes Justin for appreciating him, the pivotal episode--in which the relationship between the boys, back in Austria on a class trip, suddenly totters on the nature of Rudi's intentions (proclaiming his love, he asks Justin to stay in Austria with him)--has an offputting sentimental ring. Of course Rudi didn't mean what Justin momentarily suspects and another boy, overhearing their conversations assumes; and the book goes down, finally, on the sweetness and bitterness of their innocent love lost.