Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bashed by Rick R. Reed

Reviewed by Jim at Rainbow-Reviews

BOOK BLURB:Three haters. Two lovers. And a collision course with tragedy.
That October night, Donald and Mark had no idea their lives and love were about to be shattered by fag bashers, intent on pain, and armed with ridicule, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat. Bashed charts the course of a journey that encompasses suspense, horror, and ~ ultimately ~ romance.

BOOK REVIEW:Walking home from a leather bar through a relatively safe part of Chicago, two men are brutally attacked and beaten by three punks. One of the victims, Donald, is hospitalized. His lover, Mark, is dead at the scene.

So begins this gripping and chilling story of one man's struggle to survive the death of his partner after they were gay-bashed.

The author, Rick Reed, lets us see the aftermath through the eyes of not only Donald himself, but his sister Grace, trying to bring him comfort and solace, Walter, a neighbor wanting to be more than neighborly, and Justin, Walter's sixteen year old nephew who was one of the three responsible for Mark's death.

With great skill Reed gets inside the heads of these people bringing their darkest thoughts and fears to the surface, and forcing us to share Justin's weakness and paranoia. Reed might have been trying to portray Justin in a sympathetic light, but I ended up hating him more than Ronny, the one who wielded the baseball bat that ended Mark's life. Justin's sniveling guilt racked persona mixed with his obsession for the older Ronny's moronic behavior makes for a very unlovable teenager.

Reed doesn't hold back on the kind of anonymous sex Donald prefers when he is finally able to start putting his life together, but his hook up with Walter gives him more than he thought possible. The paranormal theme Reed introduces with Mark, Donald's dead lover, is interesting and pivotal to the story, but to dwell on it here would give too much away. Suffice to say that the climax of the story had me on the edge of my seat ~ a real white-knuckle ride!

I read somewhere that Rick Reed has been dubbed the Stephen King of gay horror ~ not a bad comparison ~ but unlike King who can sometimes go into endless and often pointless detail, Reed's writing is stylishly simple, yet at the same time gritty and realistic.

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