Saturday, January 3, 2009

Five gay heroes and a thrill every page: Fathom's Five

I do believe this is Geoffrey Knight's debut novel, and if it is, I'm impressed. This one came out very recently from STARbooks Press (which bills itself as the "publishing leader for Gay literature" ... well, gay p*orn, maybe. There's not a lot of literature in their neck of the Internet, but there's a lot of, uh, action going on there), and it's a load of fun.

Someone was saying to me the other day, this blog needs to lighten up a bit and concentrate less on "serious" novels, and include some fun. The last out-and-out fun one I covered was Glamourpus, so I thought, okay ... "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." A lot of the books covered in this blog are old -- that's the whole point of reviewing them. A couple are new: John Barrowan's Anything Goes, for one! Something blue ... well, how about China House? So that leaves something borrowed...

Right before Christmas I borrowed Fathom's Five: The Cross of Sins, and enjoyed the heck out of it. So our subject for today is ... fun. This ain't great literature, guys! This is thrills and spills, for just over 200pp, and some good, steamy scenes throughout.

If you took the clue-hunt from National Treasure, glued it to the quest for an ancient relic from Raiders of the Lost Ark, staged it in the over-the-top "impossible and I'm having far too much fun to care about it" disregard for physics and the consequences thereof, of Sahara, you're just about smack on target as a description of this book ... except for one important facet: the characters are gay.

What, all of 'em? Well, most! The premise starts with one of those Doc Savage type organizations, where a central genius (in this case Professor Fathom in the part of Doc Savage or Professor Xavier) has a group of brilliant, diverse, larger-than-life young associates who come to daddy at the gallop when another adventure is offered. The difference in this book (which is tipped to be the first of a series) is, they're all gay!

Like I began -- it's loads of fun. You just mustn't take it seriously, or even try to: it's like James Bond crossed with Tomb Raider ... if you take it seriously, you take the fun out of it. The five young tear-away adventurers are a Texas cowboy, a male model, a gridiron player, a troubleshooter, a genetics expert, and each one doubles as a specialist in maps, an ancient historian, a doctor, and so on.

Anybody remember Buckeroo Banzai --?! Leave your sense of reality at the door, turn on your sense of humor, and you'll enjoy this hugely. It's a complete romp, with colorful backdrops from Italy to Venice to Turkey. Indiana Jones territory, with Lara Croft action restaged for hunky young gay characters.

On top of all this, it even has a plot, believe it or not. Da Vinci Code-fashion, the Vatican is trying to destroy or cover up ancient truths or relics, but this relic has been well and truly hidden, like the treasure Ben Gates has been after all his life. Our heroes have to find it, and it ain't easy. Indie's adventures are in the same league -- you get the picture.

The plot has enough loops and switchbacks to keep you interested and even guessing in some places, and there's a good surprise when the villain is unmasked. You'll like the characters, who are properly written and developed for the most part. And as per the writing style, this might be Geoffrey Knight's debut on this pen name, but (s)he's been writing something, somewhere, to develop the full professional polish. Can't find anything biographical online, though, and I'm tempted to speculate that maybe this is the new pen name used by a "serious" writer who'd get stoned to death by his (or her?) peer group for writing pure escapist adventure fiction!

I'm not going to say more because plot spoilers get under my fingernails the same as yours. The book is in paperback, in print, still quite new, and available from Amazon.

Highly recommended for its total fun quotient. Just turn off your "disbelief master switch" and enjoy the ride. AG's rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Anonymous,  November 13, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

Hi Aricia! Have you got your hot little hands on my new book, THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, yet?