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THE CHICKEN ASYLUM by Fred Hunter

THE CHICKEN ASYLUM

By Fred Hunter

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-27117-4
Publisher: Minotaur

Alex Reynolds has now done so many errands for the CIA (National Nancys, 2000, etc.) that he’s cut back his practice as a commercial artist to exactly one client. But is he ready to take the next step and allow the Chicago home he shares with his mother Jean and his lover, men’s clothing salesman Peter Livesay, to be used as a safe house for a defecting Iraqi soldier who’s promised to reveal the location of chemical-weapons stores in return for political asylum? Of course he is—especially after he finds out fugitive Kahil al-Kaabi, now dubbed James Paschal, is a slight 18-year-old who’s also gay. The fit between the defector and his protectors seems ideal until Alex and Peter, feeling sorry for their cooped-up charge, take him to a gay bar, and a second visit to Charlene’s ends in gunfire, an anonymous fatality, and James’s abrupt departure. Not to worry: James will soon return to vanish again—his appearances and disappearances, motivated by his questionable loyalties to the CIA; to his cousin Yusuf al-Ansari, of the dreaded Red Jihad; and to Alex and Peter providing the engine for the usual toothless byplay. (As Jean announces in the Cockney intonations all Brits aspire to: “We simply can’t have these people mucking about with explosives!”)

Amiably amateurish spy stuff with starring roles for a boy and his mum, leavened with footnotes to everything from Psycho to Murder, She Wrote. It’s too bad for Peter, though, that this year’s script gives him nothing to do except have frequent sex with Alex.