This novel is the story of a man, Philip Croft, who was a master spy for Britain's MI6. Just a few months shy
of retirement age, he finds himself being questioned and tortured by his own service. Why? Because he's
homosexual. He's been outed by someone in the service, and now they want him to out others. He does.
He is then given the option of remaining in the service until his retirement, working in a non-classified
area. At that point, he will be allowed to retire with his full pension and to quietly slip out of view.
What happens next is not exactly a man slipping out of view. You see, Philip Croft is indeed a homosexual,
but he is also a very good spy. Now that he's been forced out and brutalized by his own branch of service, he
decides there's no reason to hide who he is any longer.
So he becomes the very visible "rice queen" that he is. A Caucasian who is attracted exclusively to Asian
men, Philip opens a bathhouse that features young Asian men who provide sexual favors to the older Caucasians
who pay for the service.
He also spends a portion of each year in Asia, traveling to cities where there are beautiful young Asian men
willing to spend time with him in exchange for gifts and gratuities.
Late in life, Philip lives with a devoted young Cambodian who takes care of him until his death.
The book is a travelogue in some ways of the times and travel of white men into Asian worlds seeking sex.
Philip disapproves of the men who, for example, go to the Philippines in search of children for sex.
Philip also sees himself as never paying for sex, but always having "relationships" with his young men.
Therefore it is a shock to him when he discovers during the fall of Marcos in the Philippines that the young
man with whom he has been living for part of each year leaves Manila to go to his island home of Cebu to take
care of his wife and child.
The book is an interesting peek into this world of men and their love for a particular physical type or look.
It is interesting, and never dull, but ultimately doesn't seem to have a real story to tell.
Philip never really changes during the book. And even when he finds out who was responsible for "shopping" him
when he was in the service and thus for his brutal treatment and dismissal, it doesn't seem to generate any real
change in the man.