The Rice Queen Spy

The Rice Queen Spy

by John F. Rooney

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617926150
Publisher: Senneff House Pulishers
Publication date: 03/01/2007
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
File size: 440 KB

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The Rice Queen Spy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Bembo on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Philip Croft is a successful British spy with an illustrious war career behind him; however we first meet him in the early 1970s when he is being interrogated by MI6. His tormentor is Sergeant Whaley, a vicious homophobe, and Philip suffers unbearably at his hands. The interrogation results in Philip being outed as a homosexual and in his early retirement from the Service.While feeling betrayed after having loyal devoted his life to serving his country, he is at the same time released from a closeted life of repression and now, in his fifties, able openly to live as a gay man and indulge his predilection for young Asian men; hence his epithet and the books title: The Rice Queen.The story follows Philip's life from the 1970s into the new millennium, with occasional references to his past conquests, be they as a WWII spy or his secret assignations with Tom, his first love. But the story predominantly follows Philip's life chronologically from the 1970s, a life which takes him on frequent trips to the East and places such as the Philippines; a life in which he enjoys the acquaintance of several handsome, lithe young Asians and also builds a small circle older gay friends, British and American. However it is in London that he spends most of his time, and it there that he meets the delightful young and faithful Cambodian, Robin.I enjoyed reading The Rice Queen Spy; it is refreshing to have a tale which follows older gay men, some of whom continue to enjoy a succession of trysts with younger men, others who are able to enjoy long and stable relationships. Philip despite having been a spy is a little reserved and naive when it comes to civilian life, and as a Cambridge graduate he is occasionally pompous; not perfect but a likeable person. The story moves from Philip's suffering at the beginning, follows his adventures in the East, the opening of a sauna in Soho which openly encourages young Asian men; it involves rebellion, assassinations, entrapment and betrayal, and includes some evocative descriptions of the Philippines. There is an undercurrent of tension throughout as Philip's tormentor, Sergeant Whaley who was subsequently reprimanded for his vicious treatment of Philip, stalks him seeking his own personal revenge, blaming Philip for all his woes. The other characters in the story are well drawn, often larger than life, some almost comic, or in the case of the young Filipinos, attractive and quite sensuous. Whatever Philip endures since his abominable treatment by MI6, he proves he is a true survivor achieving what otherwise might not have been, and as the story finally moves towards its touching and revealing conclusion one cannot but be moved. A word too about the striking cover which features a painting, Man of Flowers, by Steve Walker, who's very appealing work we maybe familiar with from the covers of Michael Thomas Ford and Dale Colclasure novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John F. Rooney has a successful run of novels that fall into the thriller/suspense genre and now he successfully uses the skills learned from those works to explore the personal life of a spy for the British MI6 (a secret service agency) whose life changes dramatically from a career of a highly respected intelligence expert to an outed gay man, dismissed from the MI6 because of his sexual preferences. THE RICE QUEEN SPY as a novel has a bit of difficulty sorting out the intrigue from the memoir aspects of the main character, taking on a bit too much exploration of the social life of men who prefer liaisons with Asian men to the point of splitting the book into two sections - spy story and social history. But it manages to come together well in the end. Philip Croft is a gentleman spy who is outed by the MI6, tortured by a surly duo into giving out the names of fellow gay confreres, and then released with pension intact to pursue a life after a career as a spy. Philip embraces his newfound freedom of expression in his visits to Asia, meeting and enjoying relationships throughout Asia where his preference for Asian men is obviously facilitated. He meets several significant lovers and spends his life between the Philippines (where his lover Reynaldo always awaits him) and his life in London where he opens a sauna with the handsome and bright Kwan to his final relationship with Cambodian Robin. Philip maintains his friendships with old friends, balancing his life with the 'business' of retirement and the joy of assignations at home and abroad. But always in the background are the stalking torturers who caused Philip's exit form the MI6. The novel takes on a special energy in the last third when an old friend of Philip's who has retired form the MI6 decides to rejoin the spying business despite his closeted gay life. This results in a misadventure that is a climactic point in the story. For all the meandering of the novel, the writing is very fine and Rooney gives the reading audience something rather unique for the genre: the aging process of Philip ranges over the events form 1973 to 2005 and not only does Philip age physically, but he also is 'aged' by the changes that occurred during that time frame, changes such as the ravaging effects of AIDS and the altered stance of the world toward gay people. It is a valuable new approach to an aspect of the gay community not usually visited. While there are many romantic adventures in the course of the novel, the language is less sensual than the reader might expect: a case of subtle suggestions rather than over the top details. THE RICE QUEEN SPY makes up for its minor flaws in the intelligent writing style of the author. It is a book that covers a lot of territory not examined before and as such is a valuable addition to the literature of the genre. Grady Harp