Bokassa’s Last Apostle
316 pages • Paradise Press • June 23, 2012 [Kindle], August 20, 2012 [PB]
How could I have failed to respond favourably to a novel that starts with a prodigiously well-hung mixed-race young guy running bollock naked through the night streets of north-west London? Having thus captured his reader’s attention, Rod Shelton holds on to it by embarking on a fast-paced, picaresque romp which is funny, sexy and intriguing by turns.
The naked young man is Everton Jones (shades of Henry Fielding’s Tom here perhaps?) who has arrived in London from Dudley only to be robbed, beaten unconscious and stripped of all his possessions and, rather like a latterday Dick Whittington, all of his (designer) clothes too. Finding his way to Hampstead Heath (not without causing some alarmed reports to the police en route in which his uniquely identifying physical characteristic features, as it were, largely) Everton is rescued and taken in by Kash and Edouard, who just happen (like you do) to be manning a free condom and lube stall for night cruisers as the naked vision runs down the path towards them, lost and distressed.
From hereon the story careers, with its own madcap internal logic, through a serious of adventures (and misadventures) featuring the misappropriated (and now missing) diamonds of deposed Emperor Bokassa of the former Central African Empire. In hot pursuit of the same come the police, the diplomatic corps, warring south London street gangs, MI6, and the eponymous Apostles – ex-Emperor Bokassa’s sinisterly-tattooed, armed and highly dangerous followers. The stakes are high and the knives (and guns and torture implements) are out with a vengeance.
In this blackly-comic novel, high drama meets high camp and the reader is rewarded with raunchy gay sex amongst a bevy of beautiful boys, in every imaginable position, on almost every other page. Throw into the mix voodoo-style African magic, grigri (a potent magic charm), demons, drugs, kidnapping and torture – and did I mention sex? – and you have a heady summer cocktail (no pun intended) which will enliven any holiday poolside or beach.
And Bokassa’s diamonds? Well, turns out that Everton’s late father was one of his Apostles and may have had more than a passing interest in the gems, which would explain his frequent trips to Geneva. Does Everton find and claim them? You’ll just have to buy the book and find out for yourselves, won’t you?!