I wish I understood why Janice Law chose the painter, Francis Bacon, as her protagonist. I found it distracting to be reading along and then be reminded of who this young man is supposed to be, visions of the real FB and his work, and of Derek Jacobi as FB in “Love is the Devil” intruding on the story. If there’d been some art-related reason, it might make more sense, but art plays almost no part in this story.
Rather, this is young Francis, sent to Berlin, to his military uncle, as a presumed remedy for his troublesome (read gay) nature. But Uncle Lastings is not only gleefully bisexual himself, but a con artist, and absolutely not the sort of man to whom an upright Irish father might entrust the moral upbringing of his child. Francis lives the high life in Berlin until Lastings gets him involved in a shootout in a Berlin dive bar and then disappears, leaving Francis virtually penniless in a strange city.
And that’s when things get really weird.
The story moves along at a reasonable pace, and the characters are interesting if not highly developed. Francis is the most so, but I came away from the novel with not much more understanding of him than I began with. He’s not what I’d call an engaging character, but he manages to stay on his feet as the events propel him through the story. In all, I’d say that it’s a fun read, but nothing profound, or even particularly exciting.