on 17 July 2013
This is a genre-busting debut and just about the gayest book I've ever read! Everton Jones, a mixed-race gay 21-year-old in London, learns that his long-lost father disappeared from Africa years ago - along with a hoard of Emperor Bokassa's diamonds. Befriended by a pair of airhead (dopehead!) queens, Everton starts to unravel his father's secrets. His quest brings him into conflict with rival South London gangstas, agents from MI6, the FBI, France and Africa - and even a pesky demon linked to his father's legacy.
Rod Shelton uses dialogue - much of it camp and/or street-slang - to give the novel's short chapters a dynamic momentum. A high-spot of the narrative is an exorcism by one of the 'Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence' in Polari (I'd thought that this gay sub-dialect popularized on BBC 1960s radio in ROUND THE HORNE was a lost language - gratifying to think it's being kept alive by nuns!). The overall thrust of this picaresque romp could be summarized as "Julian and His Friend Sandy's Excellent Adventure (on Speed)." It's also a rather sweet (gay - obviously) love story.
Young gay readers will enjoy a tour of their favourite haunts. Older gays will discover how much (and yet how little) the scene has changed since their glory days. Non-gay readers will find the book highly educational!
[Reviewer is the author of THE DROPOUT]