BAKERSFIELD BOYS CLUB by Anne Da Vigo

BAKERSFIELD BOYS CLUB

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A mother desperately tries to protect her teenage son from a powerful ring of pedophiles. 

Suzanne Ricci discovers her next-door neighbor, Reggie Roman, dead in his home, brutally beaten. The same day, her 14-year-old son, Danny, is arrested for driving Reggie’s Mercedes with his friend Reno, well-known to law enforcement as a prostitute. The police briefly suspect Danny, who happened to spend the evening at Reggie’s home, only to find him dead on his way out the next morning. Defending himself against suspicions of murder, Danny discloses a clandestine life that shocks his unwitting mother. The boy abandons his friends, drops out of art classes, and seems numbed to the world. As a troubled youth coming to grips with his gay identity, Danny befriends Reggie, notorious for the sex-and-drug-besotted parties he hosts in his home, often for influential men. Now caught up in this sordid world, depicted chillingly by Da Vigo (Thread of Gold, 2017), Danny struggles to extricate himself from it. And after his best friend, Grace Stannard, is raped and murdered by a group of pederasts known as The Club, Suzanne becomes committed to bringing them to justice. The group is formidable, however, made up of men with high-ranking positions at the police department, the district attorney’s office, and in the media. But because she fears for her son’s life, she’s left with no choice. The author masterfully builds an atmosphere of darkness and dread. Both Danny and Suzanne are mesmerizingly layered characters. Suzanne is wounded after the sudden death of an unfaithful husband, and Danny’s traumatic encounters with The Club are all the more affecting juxtaposed with the inchoate fragility of his sexual identity. At various points, the novel’s gruesome content is hard to digest, especially those scenes that describe the abuse of children; however, Da Vigo’s treatment of that content is dramatically vivid without a hint of sensationalized license. This is a beautifully crafted and thrilling novel, unflinchingly realistic without sacrificing hope. 

A sensitively intelligent dramatization of the abuse of power. 

Page count: 327pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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