By Errol Bray
In 2010, Clouds of Magellan (the Australian publisher of The Indignities and The Shallow End) launched a competition for a new GLBT novel. It was won by Errol Bray and it’s easy to see why this immensely readable novel took the prize. Set primarily in Berlin, back in 1995, 40-year-old travel writer Roger Staines can’t believe his luck when Friedrich, ‘a young German god’, falls for him. The sex is incredible and Friedrich even wants to return to Sydney to be with Roger. It seems to be good to be true − and it is. Roger is being played. But when the truth is brutally brought home, rather than accept that he was used as a patsy, Roger decides to get revenge. Even though revenge will take Roger well outside his comfort zone – and into a world of drug-dealers and addicts, prostitutes and sex slaves, hardened criminals and firearms. Roger is determined to surprise Friedrich and see him suffer. Though Roger also surprises himself (and the reader) − as he outwits hardened criminals and begins to relish shooting a gun, even when it proves fatal. Berzoo begins sedately, but once the betrayal has occurred, the narrative kicks off into crime thriller territory. With its vivid characterisation, atmospheric Berlin setting, and several narrative twists, this is a very well-developed portrait of an unlikely vigilante.