Originally titled "Father of Frankenstein" and subsequently changed to "Gods and Monsters" to match the movie version, this novel is a subtly charming rendition of the last two weeks of the life of James Whale, director of horror flicks Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (as well as many others). At this point in his life, Whale has just recovered (somewhat) from a stroke and is living alone in his mansion. After making the acquaintance of his young, butch, former Marine yardman Clayton, Whale sets in motion a hare-brained scheme to end his own life.
What gives the novel texture are the nuanced portraits of the unsophisticated but ultimately soft-hearted Clayton (who is encountering a professed homosexual for the first time in his life -- that he knows of) and Whale, who is haunted by his working class origins in England as well as by his haunting experiences in the Great War. In particular, Whale's mix of the maudlin, queeny repartee, and a drole and dismal gallows humor drive the narration.
Bram's prose is workmanlike and simple, but the portraits are nuanced and there is a sprinkle of Hollywood glitz over the whole. Bram's amusingly self-deprecating Afterword (written after the film version's release) is a humorous counterpoint to the novel's inevitable end.