Seeing the slash – The Red House Mystery

A while back I mentioned this book, and how very slashy it is. If you read it without knowing the author (AA Milne) or context, you might think you were reading a romantic mystery, with a gay bloke (Anthony) who pursues and then is all over his slightly younger pal Bill. Bill looks like he might turn out to be bi, or gay-for-you, and you’d be expecting a further chapter in which the two leads have their love scene.

I thought I’d go back to the book just in case I’d had my slash goggles too firmly in place. I hadn’t. In fact, there was more of it than I remembered. I’m ignoring anything like Bill saying, “I want you” when the context is clearly entirely innocent (although there’s plenty of that, including Bill offering to do “anything else with [Anthony] that he required”.) Even so I have over a dozen pages marked. So, here are the first few instances – more to come another day.

Anthony is a man of independent means who takes jobs as he pleases. He meets Bill a couple of times – when he serves him in a shop and then in a restaurant and “Something about [him], his youth and freshness, perhaps, attracted Anthony”. He arranges a proper introduction to Bill and they quickly become “intimate” Yes, that word clearly didn’t mean quite the same in 1922! As the story proper gets going, Bill is flattered, delighted and proud to be liked (and needed in the cause of investigation) by Anthony. Anthony soon after tells Bill he’s wonderful for describing someone so well and Bill is happily embarrassed. Later, Anthony says he loves Bill describing that same person. It really does read so far like a sweet romance.

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