I got to read a book this weekend! Lucky me. Why I chose this one over all of the wonderful ones I recently received from JMC I don't know. I guess because I bought it earlier the same day and felt obligated. It was on sale.
I'll admit this isn't the kind of book I normally go for, but since it was a celebrity author my curiosity got the better of me. I'm not sure if Julian Clary is known outside of the UK (or NZ, Aus) but he's certainly an interesting character. Here's a sample:
Here he talks about the book...
Hello, I'm Johnny Debonair and this is my book - "Murder Most Fab". Buy it. You won't regret it. Everything that has happened so publicly is explained. Of course, I'd prefer it if you remember me as I was at my height, before the past caught up with me so spectacularly - TV's Mr Friday Night with an enviable lifestyle and the nation at my feet. My fame might have looked easy to you at the time, but getting to the top of the celebrity ladder is hard work. It took talent, beauty, commitment and, uniquely in my case, a number of unfortunate deaths. If we were being picky you might describe me as a serial killer, but I really don't see myself that way. It sounds trite to say 'one thing led to another' but it's true.As you'll discover I owe something of my rise and my fall to three individuals: my mother, an eccentric country girl who taught me exhibitionism by hanging naked from the clocktower of Hythe town hall; Catherine, my best friend, then partner in business - a devil in red heels, who, in her clear Essex accent, taught me how to 'look after number one'; and, Timothy, who broke my heart and caused me to seek refuge in sex, money and celebrity.
But in the end you have to take responsibility for your own actions. No one was forcing me, were they? I hope you, the public, can forgive me and enjoy this sordid tale for what it is - my final entertainment for you.
So what did I think of it? Well I read the whole thing, I didn't throw it at the wall, and it was finished in under 48 hours. It's rather well paced, full of surprises and well plotted. The thing I'll rave about is how well Clary makes a well rounded character. Even the lesser characters aren't simple cardboard Queens.
Johnny Debonair is immensely naive and so easily led and desperately lazy, unwilling find any kind of self-reliance that it isn't any wonder he ended up the way he did. It's shown from the beginning that he's been put away for murder. He ends up the devoted victim of a highly manipulative woman. Talk about bad luck in choosing friends. But considering the boy was raised by a mother who lives in the pages of Beatrix Potter and has sex wantonly all over the Kent countryside...no no. It's so easy to blame the mother. Here's the big problem with Johnny Debonair: He can't say no.
He can't tell Catherine the Witch no, or anyone else. He waffles and sludges along and only finds pride in his abilities as a prostitute. The paragraph about how he can manipulate his sphincter for optimal pleasure is forever burned on my retinas. When one of his clients confesses to having terminal cancer and only weeks to live he asks Johnny to fulfill his ultimate fantasy: to be strangled to death. Johnny can say no until Catherine gets her hooks in and seduces him into reconsidering with freedom from debt and a better life and think of Poor Georgie suffering in agony in a lonely hospital and we wouldn't want that, now would we? Life would be easier with the payout for such a favour.
He does it. They say if you can kill once, killing again is easy. Isn't that the truth! Opportunities come along that send the very handsome Johnny onto TV, something he discovers he's rather good at. Will his past come back to haunt him? Only if the squealer wants squealed on. Stalemate on that front, plus his public image is one of a straight man. We've seen that story before, now haven't we *cough*MichaelBarrymore*Cough*EltonJohn*cough*?
There's an enduring love story, as poor Johnny got his heart broken by his True Love and has never recovered.
From the beginning we know things aren't going to end up good for Johnny, but the whole time I kept hoping for him to catch a break, smarten up, get a bit of happy. It doesn't come. He even pushes it away or snorts it up his nose. I guess the happy ever after comes in it's own way; he's resigned and content with accepting the punishments for what he's done. He makes no excuses, takes full responsibility. He actually takes too much responsibility as Catherine really deserves a cell of her own. The ending, was a bit contrived. OK it was quite a bit contrived and I had a "Gee now that's convenient." roll of my eye. Don't all posh homosexual men of a certain age have huge Hungarian toyboys who carry chloroform? Sure they do!
I was rather impressed so far as a celebrity turned author novel goes. Like I said, his ability to flesh out a character is great. I know I'm enjoying a story when I'm trying to cast the characters in the movie. It's not excellent, and I'll probably forget it in a while, but for a cheap weekend thrill it was great.
OH - I seriously hate the title though. Nothing about the murders has a sense of justified murder. I never thought any of them deserved it. It's not like Little Shop Of Horrors, and I wish it had been. It was euthanasia followed up with covering their asses. Not "fab". None of those killed off were particularly fab either. So the fab-ness is just for a cute yet ill-fitting title. Also it's touted as a comedy, but I didn't find it particularly funny. I felt sympathetic and sorry for Johnny and wouldn't call it a comedic tome. Then again, so far as gay sex and rent boys and Queens and all of that goes, I'm fairly naive, so maybe I just missed the joke. Some of the jokes were just plain icky, which I wouldn't have expected any less from Julian Clary.
No no, honestly - I liked this book. Julian Clary has a new book being written at the moment and I wonder what this one will be about.
If you're curious, he gives an interview about the book on YouTube too.