Someone You Know - Gary Zebun

Ladymol's Review

I couldnít put this thriller down last night and stayed up way too late reading it. It really is a very fast paced, edgy story of a gay serial killer and the unwitting columnist who becomes his obsession.

The story is particularly fascinating because it shows an aspect of gay life weíve not seen very often in books: the closest, married, apparently devoted straight husband and father. Daniel has been married for almost twenty years, has a daughter about to go off to college and lives an apparently contented American dream. Underneath his serene surface, however, heís paddling madly, trying to cope with increasingly irresistible gay urges. Able to exist with perhaps four or five anonymous encounters a year, in parks or public toilets, suddenly the urges drive him to take risks heís never considered beforeónotably picking up a trick and staying the night with him.

Such anonymous sex carries its own risks; that your lover is going to be found the next day murdered and missing his penis is not one Daniel could possibly have predicted. Suddenly, he realises that heís implicated in the killingóthe last person, beside the killer, to see the man alive. He could not possibly guess just how closely his life is tied up with this killer.

I liked Daniel and found the story of man disintegrating under the pressures to appear what he is not very convincing. For all the gay men who are out there living their lives, itís a salient reminder that there are many still forced to be in the closet. Danielís ďpunishmentĒ (a term he uses himself) is extremeónot all closet men lying to themselves and their families are put through this kind of experience. But perhaps Danielís trials can be seen as a metaphor for the pain of betrayal and deceit.

An edgy thriller with a particularly biting end. Iíd like to read more from this author. Given the newfound interest from Hollywood in gay stories, I have to say that this one particularly lends itself to being filmed. The serial killer plot has original twists (I particularly like the cat and mouse game in a leather club where everyone was wearing masks Ė how visual could that be?). There are very strong lead characters and the book paints strong pictures in your head as you read. Definitely good movie material.

Cerisaye's Review

This novel is an erotic mystery thriller that explores what happens to deeply closeted men, lying to those who trust them and most of all to themselves.†† It corrodes from inside out, often turns to violence, and inhibits all relationships.†

Itís pretty obvious who the killer is so not so much a WHOdunnit as WHY.† The focus is the mindset of a desperately unhappy and lonely man.† Whether you think the novel works totally depends on the ability of the writer to persuade you the attitudes and behaviour of his main character are credible.†

The thrill of man-to-man sex to a man living a lie comes over well.† More than that, a yearning for intimacy, to make a connection with another man who feels the same.†† Itís about need and desperate desire.† And overwhelming guilt and shame for hurting those he still cares for, because you donít just stop loving; itís just a different kind of feeling.

Daniel Caruso is a newspaper columnist in Providence, R.I., with wife and teenage daughter.† On a trip to Seattle he has a one-night stand with hunky fireman, Stephen Hart.† A night of intense passion that gets the novel going with a bang.† It isnít the first time but thereís definitely something different going on.† Before Daniel has a chance to consider the implications of wanting for to wake up with another man, he discovers Stephen has gone off to work leaving a thank you note.† Then in his bathroom Daniel discovers a bottle of AZT and remembers the condom that broke:† a lifetime of caution and secrecy undone at a stroke.†

Heís scared and angry yet canít stop thinking about what happened, being penetrated for the first time, transformedÖitís Easter weekend and itís almost like heís been crucified and resurrected; no going back to wife & family to carry on as usual.† On the way home another casual encounter in a toilet and Daniel finds those pills from Stephenís bathroom and a chess piece from his flat.† Someone is stalking him.† Is it Stephen?† Or Stephenís jealous, violent ex, another married man?†

The real horror begins when a box containing something very disturbing turns up on his doorstep and Daniel becomes target of a homophobic serial killer, who knows all about his secret life, not to mention all his little kinks.† Scared for his family and wracked with guilt itís his fault for being gay Daniel turns to a friend on the local police force, Jared.† One night 20 years before they had a sexual encounter and Daniel has wanted with Jared ever since what he saw in his dadís old army photo of a group of buddies, relaxed and happy, the intimacy of male bonding.

Sexuality is complicated, and I liked the way the story brings that out, how it affects individuals and those around them, how wanting to do the right thing doesnít translate into action.† He has a good relationship with a sympathetic daughter, but Danielsí wife Sarah isnít fully developed.† The dramatic climax is an open-ended situation where everything depends on her actions (or lack of).

I sympathised with Daniel, because heís a good man undone yet also often wanted to hit him because of what he does to himself and his family with the inability to keep it in his trousers!† His anguish and turmoil are so well done there has to be personal experience in there.†

This is a tense, compulsive, erotically charged, often chilling, book thatís frustrating in equal measure.† Though I was convinced about Danielís motivations Iím less persuaded he wouldnít catch onto the killerÖit wouldíve helped to have had more suspects to muddy the waters.† Also I hated the ending.† Definitely worth reading, despite flaws, for insight into sexual obsession and a closeted manís way of thinking. A persuasive argument for openness about sexuality and committed relationships.