Reviewed by Shelley
TITLE: The Condor
AUTHOR: Isa K.
LENGTH: 327 pages
BLURB: Nobody ever said running a gay escort agency was going to be easy. Harry takes on more than he can chew when he recruits a new boy who might be straight, might just be confused, or might be interested in servicing someone other than the clients. Then there’s a client whose specific kinks mean for the first time in years Harry will have to handle a job himself.
Long-time boyfriend Liam may be losing patience with having his life so influenced by hookers and emergency phone calls. Looks like he might become ex-boyfriend Liam… but is that such a bad thing? What should be done about the pushy bottom who won’t go away until Harry agrees to dominate him? Is the new boy cut out for this business? There are vultures in the city. Harry is just a big, sparkly, gay one.
‘Christ on a cracker! ’
This book is superb, amazing even … but I don’t have to like it ALL do I?
Have you ever wondered about the world of prostitution and how it REALLY works? Wondered how Escort agencies recruit their employees and their clients? What about the people who own these establishments? Who are they? But the most important question for me is: how could they?
Well, if you want answers then Harry is most qualified to provide them. An ex prostitute, ex Dom, and ex twink. Nowadays he’s an effeminate Top in the body of a bear, the owner of a gay escort agency, recruiting his own ‘stock’ and clientele. In fact you’ll get to see him recruit Danny (a straight boy) first hand. You’ll get all this with an exclusive look into the world of prostitution: the machinations, the kinks, the clients, the mind-set, the interactions and the malicious set ups.
The Condor is Harry’s story to tell, and he tells it well.
Allow me to begin with what makes this book really stand out.
The originality! Thank you, thank you, and thank you again! I never knew what direction this was going in. There is no trope to define this plot and no category for me to slot it into, and I love that.
The humour! Again I give thanks. What could have been a pessimistic and gloomy perception is lifted by Harry’s unaffected and often cutting twink humour.
The characterisation is remarkable. Prostitute or pervert the author makes each uniquely human without adopting the hype and drama that usually shadows such easily stereotyped characters.
The Condor is an ingenious character driven puzzle stressing the superficial makeup of people. It gets really interesting when the author snubs customary cause and effect profiling in favour of something quite … unique. Read between the lines, interpret the character performances and you get to draw your own conclusions. For me the message is loud and clear. Everyone is a manipulative shit.
Now here’s the part that stings ….
Reading this novel is akin to running my hands over razor grass. Unsuspecting leaves razor sharp edges that will slice. Just like Harry. He is so unaffected and belligerent about his lifestyle, the man makes me hiss. Allow me to demonstrate:
“Lately I’ve just started to rotate our stock around, convinced that clients can be tricked into thinking they have the variety they crave if they can’t recognize the boy they fucked three months ago.”
“I’m not interested in souls. I’m interested in bodies. Your soul is immortal, but your body has a definite sell by date. Call me unscrupulous, but I can’t always wait for prime stock to figure out their morals, their philosophies and to be comfortable in their sexuality all on their own.”
Between this, and Harry’s big ole gay heart I couldn’t get a handle his true self, and perhaps that’s the point. I held him at arm’s length for the entirety of this novel – too wary of those unsuspecting slices. Sure he softens it with good intentions and humour, but girlfriend – I ain’t any fool, I see you … Or so I thought.
For a long time after finishing this story I focussed on the condescending aspect because it felt most pertinent in my mind, but then I realised that it was all relative. There is a romance here which serves to highlight the great elements of this novel, but I won’t tell because you’ll never guess who the love interest will be.
It is basic flaws and not my personal discomfort that diminish my rating. This book needs a proof read. The excellent writing is spoiled by poor editing, which is not something I usually comment on but there were even words missing. The chapters are serialised which interrupts the flow when read as a completed novel. I was never given a reason for ‘straight boy’ Danny’s obsessive attraction to Harry.
So should you read it?
I say yes, refer back to the good stuff and then remove your politically correct filter. There is fun to be had here, but also the risk that you realise how truly fickle your psyche and perception of others really is. The Condor leaves me with much to ponder. I may not have liked it all, but I can appreciate and admired it. Isa K certainly makes into onto my favourite author shelf.
“Sex is the great equalizer. Whores and debutantes all moan the same.”
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Shelley is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
To read all her reviews, click the link: SHELLEY’S REVIEWS