Love is a drug. It’s addictive, we all need and want love. We can’t get enough as it consumes the soul, stabbing and bleeding us dry for we become powerless to its requests. To feel its warm, tender embrace one more time, even if it’s only for a second, it’s worth it. Worth the risks, but is it worth dying for…?
Today I am on on the blog tour for The Pharmacist (Published January 5, 2020) By Justin David. A big thank you to the publishers Inkandescent for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Thank you!
About The Author
Justin David is a writer, photographer and artist. A child of Wolverhampton, he has lived and worked in East London for most of his adult life. He graduated from the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths and has produced a body of fiction – short stories and novels – many of which are darkly comic tales inspired by the wonderful folk of the West Midlands. He has read at Royal Festival Hall for Paul Burston’s gay literary salon, Polari.
He has worked as an assistant for the writer and film-maker Philip Ridley and is a regular speaker at the National Gallery. His writing has been published in many print and online anthologies, most recently ‘Queer Episodes’, Little Episodes, 2013.
His photography collection of nocturnal performers, Night Work, has been exhibited in London at venues including Jackson’s Lane. His photographic works have appeared on the pages of magazines including: Gaze, Time Out, Beige, Out There, Gay Times, Attitude, Polari Magazine, QX, GlitterWolf, Fluid, Pink Paper, Muso and Classical Music Magazine.
Twenty-four-year-old Billy is beautiful and sexy. Albert – The Pharmacist – is a compelling but damaged older man, and a veteran of London’s late ’90s club scene.
After a chance meeting in the heart of the London’s East End, Billy is seduced into the sphere of Albert. An unconventional friendship develops, fuelled by Albert’s queer narratives and an endless supply of narcotics.
Alive with the twilight times between day and night, consciousness and unconsciousness, the foundations of Billy’s life begin to irrevocably shift and crack, as he fast-tracks toward manhood.
This was an intense, intoxicating read. It takes you on a trip of erratic ecstasy, pleasure and lust. When you experience the comedown you feel dazed and bewildered asking yourself, did that all really just happen? Did you feel that? Was it real? You must have felt that?
The story follows Billy, a 24 year old artist struggling to find inspiration to paint his next work of art. When we are first introduced to him he is watching an old man buying flowers. Billy is captivated by him and appears to be witnessing a sly drug transaction. As the story unfolds they quickly meet face to face and we learn that the old man’s name is Albert Power and he lives in the same block of flats as Billy. They soon embark on an affair together and Billy’s world begins to crack and crumble around him as his lies and addictions catch up with him.
Albert was fascinating to read. He is an older gentleman that has been bruised and broken by love. As I learned more about him I felt my heart break for his unfortunate misfortunes. I was also curious about his own little business dealing drugs and was extremely knowledgable on the matter. You wouldn’t have suspected such an older man to be involved in drugs but he does. I admire how David breaks the taboo, shocking and intriguing the reader into submission. He takes the reader off guard multiple times as you witness scenes you didn’t think you could imagine. Albert doesn’t conform to any normal code of behaviour and Billy likes that about him. There is a lot to Albert that remains unknown as he only gives Billy a vague idea of his former life, he’s done a bit of acting, singing and managed a restaurant in soho. He doesn’t go into detail and expand so when we learn of how he has been burned by love, it breaks you. I was a mess and the ending just cut even deeper. Truly heartbreaking.
Billy in comparison to Albert is the polar opposite, he is inexperienced and reckless. Before they met he had never taken an E and quickly becomes reliant on them to escape from his reality. While his boyfriend Jamie appears to be doing well and putting his job first, Billy is struggling to paint and is falling down a dark hole. It is this conflict that gently pushes Billy into Albert’s embrace. Before they meet officially face to face Billy becomes obsessed with Albert, noting the times he leaves and returns to the flat along with what he’s wearing. This is a small red flag to the reader that Billy is an addict. He needs to be addicted to something, his art, drink, his lover, anything that will cause him to avoid facing up to what he is running from. He drinks to escape and later admits to Albert that painting helps him find out who he is, he can step back and look at a fragment of his life then he can put it down and say he knows that now and leave it alone. It’s extraordinary character development as they have endless layers to them exposing their vulnerabilities.
Set against London’s East End David paints the scene vividly. The inner workings of what happens behind closed doors as you lose yourself to the booming bass amongst the mass of flesh, all dancing as one is hypnotic. You immerse yourself into the scene as David’s writing style is electric. He goes through the motions from the highs to the lows. The way he writes Billy’s first time taking an E is mind-blowing. You can feel the blood pumping, the itchy, the erratic thoughts and the pleasure. It’s a surreal experience.
I give The Pharmacist By Justin David a Five out of Five paw rating.
At the heart of The Pharmacist is a love story. When these two characters meet and spend time together there is a strong, passionate connection. This book will not be everyone’s cup of Earl Grey as it deals with sensitive subjects and has graphic sex scenes. But it is such an electrifying read that I recommend everyone should try it at least once. It’s a story of love, lust, passion and addiction. The characters are mysterious to follow as you feel yourself being pulled further and deeper down the rabbit hole the more you read. It’s an experience that you will struggle to forget and admittedly won’t want to.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
The Pharmacist is available from Amazon, Gay’s the Word & www.inkandescent.co.uk
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You can see more at: www.justindavid.co.uk
Hop hop wiggle wiggle