Plakcy, Neil S. “Survival is a Dying Art: An Angus Green Novel”, Neil S. Plakcy, 2018.
Angus is Back
Special Agent Angus Green is still in his twenties and because he looks so young, he is underestimated by many. He is a smart, fearless cop who believes in the FBI motto of Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Frank Sena is working with pawnshop owner Jesse Venable to retrieve a painting stolen from Frank’s uncle, a gay Venetian killed during the Holocaust. When Angus volunteers to help Frank, he discovers that Venable is the subject of a task force looking into smuggling immigrants out of the Middle East. Angus knows nothing about art and speaks no Italian yet he is assigned to befriend, and ultimately betray, Venable. He is lucky to have an Italian-speaking brother and an art-loving boyfriend. With their help, he may be able to both retrieve the painting and solve a smuggling case and potentially save thousands of lives.
The story begins in Fort Lauderdale when Angus’s friend, Tom, invites him to a gay men’s book group and introduces him to a man he’s interested in, Frank Sena. Frank is a descendant of Italian Jews from Venice and his gay uncle died at Auschwitz. His uncle’s extensive art collection (focusing on the male nude) was confiscated by the Nazis, and Frank has discovered that one of his uncle’s paintings may have surfaced in present-day Venice. Venable has volunteered to be an intermediary but Frank is not sure that the man is trustworthy. When an FBI connection to this occurs, Angus is off on his next adventure.Angus respects his boss, his colleagues, and his job. He is a great guy to work with.
I have been reading and reviewing Neil Plakcy for about ten years now and one of his earlier books was one of the first books I ever reviewed. I am so happy to see that he is still pulling in high ratings. He has created a loveable character in Angus ho is the total opposite of our conception of FBI agents and I picture him as “twinkingly” cute with a head full of red hair (the kind of guy I would have lusted after in my youth but can only dream about in my old age). I love that he is thoughtful and a caring young man and he is smart. He even feels sorry for the guys he has to go after. I love that Plakcy shows the new reality of today’s FBI and that we can as gay men uphold the honor of this country. I also admire the intergenerationality (if this is not a word, it should be one) of the novel as Angus explores his friendships with older gay men. It is those friendships that lead him to his next case of returning a painting looted by Nazis to its rightful owner.
We read of Angus thinking about his relationship with both his partner Lester and his brother Danny giving us insight into what a caring person he really is. and with Lester, the bouncer boyfriend turned entrepreneur. He still has questions for which he searches for answers but he is young and in love and determined to do well at his job.
I am having a hard time not writing about the plot but I do not want to give any spoilers or say too much. I want everyone to have the same enjoyment I did while reading this.