CODE OF CONDUCT by Rich Merritt


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A novel of romance and intrigue from former Marine Merritt (Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star, 2005).

Don, a Marine, and his best friend Eddie, a sailor, are part of a closely knit group of gay men and women in uniform. These individuals have made careers for themselves in the military, and the life they have chosen means they must keep an essential part of themselves a secret from all but their closest friends who share that secret. But it’s 1993, and there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon: Bill Clinton has just been inaugurated, and he’s promised to end the ban on gays in the military. Don’s circle of friends has other reasons to be optimistic, too. Eddie is just beginning to emerge from the despair that overwhelmed him when he lost his lover to AIDS, and Don has embarked on an exciting new relationship with the sweet and handsome young Patrick, a marine eager to finally embrace his sexuality. But the happiness Don and his friends experience is short-lived. Clinton’s promise turns into the compromise of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” And the gay marines and sailors of San Diego face a more immediate threat in the form of Jay Gared, an agent for the Naval Investigative Service who will do anything—anything—to expose homosexuals in the military. Merritt makes a persuasive case when he argues that a policy meant to foster cohesiveness actually creates a class of servicemen and servicewomen who can never wholly trust their brothers and sisters in arms. And his depiction of the crushing disappointment and sense of betrayal felt by many gays in the military when Clinton was unable to deliver on his pledge is poignant. But the narrative is a mess. The main characters are flimsy and Agent Gared, the villain, is a cartoon. The plot is both overblown and underdeveloped. The dialogue is, more often than not, painfully stilted, and the pace is frequently excruciating.

Intriguing subject, terrible execution.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7582-2274-9
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2007