Elliott Mackle's third novel Captain Harding's Six-Day War gains traction in its second half with the crash of an F-105 near Wheelus Air Base five miles east of Tripoli in June 1967. The pilot, a married major, attempted an unauthorized loop and instead hit the sand. The wreck underscores the anxieties of the closeted narrator, Captain Joe Harding, 26, who comes to believe the accident was a suicide and the major intended for his wingman, who may have been going down on him, to go down with him. The very distraught lieutenant survives, yet rather than accept help from someone "like us," he threatens to expose "Captain Cocksucker" to the base's ranking, already suspicious homophobes. The novel links Harding's fear of being outed with his fear of intimacy, all the way back to his abusive father. By that point, he's juggling three suitors: the bald, "muscular pug" Major Hal Denman, 35, who limits their encounters to rubdowns and handjobs; the far more flexible, and needy, nurse Duane Hayes, also 35, who takes him to an all-male sex party and wants to settle down; and Cotton Boardman the puppyish, Shakespeare-quoting, high school tennis star who says he's "seventeen, AAALLL-most." Women in minor roles, Cotton's mother who is the U.S. ambassador, and a straight black nurse, Merlene Williams, are nicely sketched. Mackle, a USAF vet once stationed at Wheelus in the 1960s, keeps his eye trained on the many intrigues at the base and opts not to explore any possible parallels of closeted life and/or secret subcultures in Tripoli. The Libyan characters are an undelineated chauffeur and a one-dimensional blackmailing murderer. Lethe Press classifies the novel as "gay romance" so the hopeful ending is assured. Check out his previous books, Hot off the Presses and It Takes Two.