Bibliophile | Stuart Hopps releases queer 80s thriller The Rainbow Conspiracy

The Rainbow Conspiracy
by Stuart Hopps
Muswell Press

This gay mystery thriller love story is set in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. Stuart Hopps recounts that while he was working at the Met in New York in 1982, he found out that a dear friend of his had contracted a virus, undiagnosed at the time, and was seriously ill. By the end of the 1980s, many of his friends were dead and he was asking himself why a disease that was first reported in Africa as a heterosexually transmitted disease had become a ‘gay plague’ in America.

The story starts off in 1984 London, where we meet forty year old Clive Spoke who is a leading theatrical agent. His personal assistant Shirley Morris was also his close friend, although he sometimes had to disengage himself from her maternal clutches when he felt smothered. Their busy celebrity-filled life is interrupted when Clive gets a phone call that his American friend and ex-lover had died from an AIDS related illness.

Clive had met Dennis when he was hitch-hiking around the States. The handsome ex-Marine life guard was “the sort of Adonis you know exists but whom you never actually meet in real life.” As he reminisces about how they met and got to know each other, Clive flies to the US to comfort Dennis’ partner Michael. When Michael shows him photographs, Clive finds it difficult to believe that “such a wonderful specimen of mankind” had been “reduced to a contorted and wizened little old man” in the eight years since he had last seen him.

The more information he finds out about the ‘gay plague’, the more it seems that evil forces seem to have managed to punish a group of people who have enjoyed too much sexual freedom in the last decade. Clive’s suspicions deepen as he speaks to more of Dennis’ friends. He is eventually joined by Shirley, but as they try to uncover why the US seems to be the epicenter of the deadly new virus, their lives become threatened.

Stuart Hopps’ exciting thriller is fiction but it does make you wonder about what could have happened in the early eighties for a killer disease to take hold of a whole minority group of men who sleep with men. Certainly an interesting conspiracy theory wrapped in an exciting and raunchy novel.

Lezly Herbert

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