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Finger's Breadth: A Gay Thriller: From the Lambda Award Finalist Kindle Edition
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Not so with this book. M. Christian takes us through a gay San Francisco some time in the not too distant future where gay men are being tricked and attacked in an unusual way I will not discuss for fear of spoilers.
The plot is tense, the characters well drawn, and the suspense is strong. The text is certainly erotic, but for me the primary interest was in trying to decipher the mystery: what was going on, and who was doing it, and why. Also, the effects on the gay community add a deeper dimension to the book not usually present in a whodunit. A terrific read.
As time goes on, though, and more men join the ranks of those with nine-and-half-fingers, the mood shifts. Fear morphs into a sort of desperate heat. New venues open, more vibrant and raw than ever. Men with all their fingers intact become objects of suspicion – perhaps they are the one responsible for the plague of mutilation. The gay community develops new rituals to deal with the horror. But who is the Cutter, and why does he pursue his macabre crusade?
In Finger's Breadth, M. Christian has created a creepy and compelling narrative that, like so much of his work, defies categorization. The book offers elements of horror, erotica, science fiction and social commentary. Christian's San Francisco is recognizable but weirdly skewed from the real city. Its dark streets are haunted by free-lance cops and merciless predators, newly-outed kids fresh from the boonies and jaded veterans of a thousand blow jobs.
There's no single hero. The novel proceeds as a series of vignettes, views of the world through the eyes of various men affected by the explosion of violence. Snippets from newspapers and radio programs move the plot forward. Each character holds a piece of the truth without necessarily being aware of that fact. By the end, the reader has a pretty clear idea of what's going on, but Christian never actually comes right out and explains.
Finger's Breadth is simultaneously terrifying and arousing. M. Christian has tapped into the subterranean founts of desire, where the primal urges - lust, anger, fear, hunger - flow together. At the same time, the book dwells on more existential issue - the need for meaning and recognition, the urge to belong to a tribe. Like his previous work, the controversial novel Me 2, this book considers how far one might go today in order to fit in.
If you're looking for an easy, sunny, sexy book with a happy ending, don't pick up Finger's Breadth. If, on the other hand, you want a scary but enlightening ride through the twisted labyrinth of the human psyche, I highly recommend this book.
"He cut part of your f*****g finger off," says the exasperated cop.
"Yeah, but it could have been worse." is the philosophical response.
One thing you can rely on M.Christian for, is a damn good story And "Finger's Breadth is no exception; I think it's his best one yet. As always, I get the feeling that he's dancing ahead of me; laughing, teasing. Never taunting; M.Christian is a writer who respects his reader. He just has fun along with us, weaving his superbly crafted tale.
I mean, who'd have thought that you could write a story about Gay men waking up in the morning, minus part of a finger? It's surreal; a crazy notion. "right hand little finger amputated at the first joint..." Yes it's a ridiculous idea -- and yet -- it works.
This is a visual novel, in the tradition of the best Film Noir. Dark, still and silent. Characters moving into shot, then out of shot. Yet, as I said earlier, fast paced too, as one character, then another, tells their part of the story. A jigsaw put painstakingly together and it's only on the final pages that the reader sees the complete whole.
It's erotic; a comment on desire. A comment on our crazed need to have the ultimate fashion statement.
This book is totally weird and unsettling. And the reader just accepts what is going on, with all its weirdness. The reader is complicit. But more than anything, it's a great story, a great read. Takes me back to long ago, when I first discovered what a joy reading could be. It's as simple as that; being intrigued, being told a good story.