Wednesday 9 October 2019

#BlogTour Carved in Bone by Michael Nava

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Carved in Bone by Michael Nava. It's a compelling piece of fiction.
About the Author
Michael Nava is the six-time Lambda Literary Award author of the Henry Rios novels and recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBTQ Literature. The New York Times praised him as “one of our best” crime fiction writers. The New Yorker called Henry Rios “a detective unlike any other previous protagonist in American noir.” Carved In Bone is the first Henry Rios novel in 20 years. Says novelist David Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) Carved In Bone is “rich, haunting and deeply engaged with the world.”

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About the book
A new mystery by six-time Lambda Literary award winner, Michael Nava. Set in San Francisco in 1984, Henry Rios, a gay criminal defense lawyer,  is fresh out of rehab and trying to put his life back together. He's hired by an insurance company to investigate the apparently accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning of Bill Ryan in the Castro Street apartment he shared with his lover, who survived. As he delves into Bill Ryan's life, Rios becomes convinced Ryan’s death was no accident, and that his young lover is implicated. Meanwhile, the tsunami of AIDS is bearing down on San Francisco’s gay community. 

I think it's important to note that there are sex scenes in this book, and they are quite graphic, however they do help readers to comprehend the gay scene of that era. At a time when homosexuality was finally being decriminalised and declassified as a mental health disorder in certain states, and there was finally a possibility of a positive sway in public opinion.

In a way I think there was almost a revival of the free love 60s and 70s era, especially because discarded homosexual men without a home or family were drawn to the same places and subsequently became large communities.

The intimacy and the inner battle the majority of gay men have with themselves and their partner or lovers is relevant to how the HIV virus was passed around. Imagine growing up feeling safe and loved and suddenly being ostracised by the same people who supposedly love you - just because your sexuality doesn't conform to their ideas of the norm.

Feeling guilt instead of pleasure and equating pain and humiliation to pleasure, because the world around you is teaching you that your desires are abhorrent. Having to overcome the fact that the majority of society believes you have to conform to their standards of love, lust and sex.

This betrayal defines the way Bill relates to his sexuality and his relationships for the rest of his adult life. I think the absolute tragedy is the fact these hypocrites called family then end up being in complete legal control of the belongings and inheritance in the event of the death of the person they have cast out. This is why the LGBTQ community fights hard for equal marital rights, so they can ensure their partners have legal rights and don't end up being locked out of end-of-life decisions and property.

I really enjoyed this book. Nava hits the nail on the head when it comes to every aspect of the story he brings to the table. The tragedy of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, one of the most globally destructive pandemics. The fraudulent profiteering of insurance companies, which includes viatical settlements, and the destruction AIDS has caused.

Henry's life and struggles play out simultaneously as the reader learns about Bill. The short tragic life of a young man disposed of by his family as if he had never existed, who went on to prove that family isn't necessarily about blood and more about the people who stand by you during both good and bad times.

It's a mixture of genres, it's historical fiction, a mystery, LGBTQ fiction and it's also a very poignant statement about attitudes towards homosexuality and the AIDS pandemic. It's a compelling, well-researched and emotional read at times.

Buy Carved in Bone at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Persigo Press; pub date 22 October 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

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