George Snyder’s On Wings of Affection (Lulu) is a likeable romp through a witty and serendipitous West Hollywood complete with a murder mystery, a full-scale disaster and, oh yeah, a lopsided lust triangle.
The lust triangle encompasses narrator Sam Finch (gay habitué of several WeHo gyms and Coffee Beans), poor little rich girl Agnes aka Pam Uccello, (whom Sam is secretly being paid to keep tabs on), and Didier Rossignol (kept companion of the universally loathed ‘decorator to the stars’). Sam learned at a young age about the rigors of life by hanging around rural Ohio truck stops before becoming acquainted with the privileged classes as a teacher at an upper-crust Manhattan girls’ school. He now gets to pass judgment on the work of others from the comfort of convenient WeHo coffee venues as a script reader for movie producers whom he’s dated or worked for, “which is almost the same thing.” The youngest and wisest member of the cast, Pam is a “little blonde pixie” and former student of Sam’s who is estranged from both parents and living with her fabulously wealthy grandmother. Sam is semi-secretly accepting money and nice brunches from Pam’s mother to report on the girl’s activities. Didier is fatuous, gorgeous, and bisexual—an especially potent blend of qualities for attracting attention in WeHo society. He’s living with the aforementioned loathed decorator, but is the ex-lover of Pam’s father, an Italian count. Didier and Pam have been disaffected since an incident involving Pam’s father’s yacht in St. Tropez, Didier and a popular actress, and the actress’ jealous Russian oligarch boyfriend and his “posse of well-armed comrades”. Sam has a huge man-crush on Didier and a fascination with Pam’s lifestyle, Pam has a hate-crush on Didier and feigns disdain for Sam, and, well, Didier humps everybody in sight (except Sam) like a friendly, horny puppy.
Okay, so—spoiler alert—the loathed decorator is killed, prime suspect Didier goes on the lam, Sam becomes a suspect, there’s the aforementioned full-scale disaster, and then ultimately it’s a case of ‘all’s well that ends well’. The plot is convoluted and strains credibility, but it is a lot of fun once the action starts. Verisimilitude is clearly not the author’s goal, nor should it be the reader’s.
The writing style complements the farcical plot. The style, reminiscent of H. H. Munro’s, drips sarcasm and a particularly non-heterosexual kind of insolent wit consistent with the personality of narrator Sam. For example, brunch-goers at a WeHo bistro are “a host of bachelor designers and their overnight acquaintances” and a porn producer’s ranch house looks as if “the Manson family had taken over Liberace’s dressing room.”
Anyone looking for Pride and Prejudice should consider a different book. On Wings of Affection is, however, a recommended read for anyone wanting to spruce up the darkening days of autumn with the spirit of some summer-like exuberance.