Friday, October 24, 2008

Review: Netherhall Gardens by Carl Patrick

Netherhall Gardens
Carl Patrick

Published by Matador

Reviewed by Karl Barry


There are a string of young men being murdered in London and the police are scrambling to find out who is committing these bizarre sexual crimes. Much to their horror the inhabitants and friends of a neighbourhood called Netherhall Gardens find themselves unwittingly tangled up in the case. The most prominent character in this novel is a sexually-naïve 23 year old named Mark who is not sure if he’s gay or not. While choosing between a group of eager male suitors who want to help him down this road of discovery, Mark becomes the lynchpin of the entire investigation to catch the murderer(s). Along the way we meet a colourful cast of characters who include a sexually voracious Scotsman named Hugh, a glittering young barmaid named Stella, a lively social older lady named Laura and a police detective with a taste for leather named Steve.

The focus of the book moves back and forth following the stories of this eclectic group of characters in a way that is enjoyably fast-paced. Among the tumultuous and steamy encounters between them the author captures the inevitable confusion and messy emotional baggage which comes with people’s ever-evolving sexual identities. Mark’s speedy initiation into the erotic pleasures he’s been longing for is obviously just the beginning of a long journey which leaves the reader wondering what will happen to him next. Netherhall Gardens is an entertaining brisk read full of lively characters, darkly sexual encounters and lots of wild fun.

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