A mysterious figure, known only as The Cutter, is hunting the gay men of near-future San Francisco. This strange, shadowy figure drugs his victims, then amputates the tip of their little finger. As The Cutter attacks continue and spread throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, they have strange and disturbing effects on a variety of men.
Before you read any further into this review, I would most appreciate it if you would look to the right hand side of the screen and study the first two books listed in the Read My Published Writing section of this blog. You will note that the editor of both books just so happens to be the author of Finger's Breadth. Small world, isn't it?
It also explains why I am reading a book in a genre, Gay Erotica, that is somewhat far removed (to put it mildly) from my usual reading comfort zone. But it is always good to challenge oneself on occasion, and Finger's Breadth, I am happy to write, happens to be both a good and challenging read.
Finger's Breadth, while ostensibly a work of Gay Erotica, one with a very strong and distinct undercurrent of BDSM to it, is also a disturbing psychological thriller that is cloaked in the dark noir style shadows of futurist cyberpunk. It was the strength of the latter that kept my interest through all of the pages of graphically described gay sex. I'm certain that certain readers will find that kind of thing hot, but I am not one of those readers. So it goes.
While the narrative pacing is crisp and brisk, the book is a short and to the point 265 pages, the cast of characters is rather sizable. There is Fanning, a Freelance Cop (a near-future version of the Bounty Hunter mixed with the Private Investigator) trying to hunt down and catch the Cutter, for profit. There is the terrified Taylor, who believes that he has narrowly escaped the Cutter. There is Dibney, who is also hunting for the Cutter, but for personal reasons. And there is Varney, the first victim. The man who made everyone else aware of the Cutter and who is now burdened with the guilt of creating a media monster with a life of its very own.
Those are just the primary characters, though. Swirling around the above listed men are snapshots of other men cruising a San Francisco nightlife that is undergoing a strange shift in fetishistic desire. These men wander the bars, have sexual liaisons, all the while alternating between looking for the Cutter's victims and longing to be the Cutter's next victim. These snapshots chart the growth and mutation of the sexual meme. These snapshots also cast light and add shadows to the stories of the various primary characters listed above. As the number of the Cutter's victims grows, and each of the primary characters makes a disturbing discovery, the nature of the Cutter's attacks and what it truly means to be a victim of the Cutter is called into question. The answers to those questions manage to be both unsettling and empowering.
Finger's Breadth is a chilling and thought provoking read.