Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: The One Thing I Know
SERIES: B-Sides #1
AUTHOR: Keelan Ellis
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 224 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2017
Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.
Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.
Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.
With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.
Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.
My main thought when I started reading this book was, “Oh, god, I’m going to be stuck with this narcissistic alcoholic wanker for the next 200 pages. Please kill me now.”
Terry Blackwood was pretty much the epitome of why I don’t read books about rock stars. I was all set to loathe him. He treated everyone around him like shit. His treatment of several of the “groupies” was appalling. Not to mention the crap he shoveled out towards Henry Cole. He was loathsome and I really really wanted to hate his guts from here to eternity.
And then the bastard decided to start showing that he had depth and layers.
Damn him. I had a good thing going there, man.
See, he actually has pretty good reasons (if not exactly great excuses) for being a total shitbag. Mostly centered around Dell Miller–whose death at the beginning of the story acts as a catalyst for most of the plot. Dell’s mental health issues, his drug abuse, his general asshole behavior and subsequent death has a huge impact on Terry; being forced to go on tour, with Henry replacing Dell in the band, right after Dell’s death, was only bound to make things worse. And this book does a really good job of showing the growth that Terry goes through in this story. It may not be a straight shot up, but the pitfalls only make the successes all the more impactful. Wanting to see Terry grow, as well as to see what happens with the band and with Henry, makes you keep reading.
Henry is a bit different, though. From the start you are pretty much on his side. He is just a guy trying to do a job. Henry is not focused on the fame, the celebrity. And yeah, while he isn’t all that turned off by the money, I’m not sure most anyone would be. He seems like just a down-to-earth guy. But there is more to him than meets the eye. He says all he wants are these simple things: a guy to come home to, a place to grow old in. But it is pretty clear that he kinda fears actually getting those things. Not just because he has commitment issues (but, let’s be fair, those are not helping things), but because the time in which this book is set.
1972 is not exactly a place of love and acceptance for the gay community. And realistically, Henry and Terry both have to look at the world they live in and act accordingly. Yeah the veneer of celebrity might insulate them a little, but the fact is that it is their lives and their livelihoods on the line. And Henry for all that he seems the more stable of the pair–or maybe because of it–sees the consequences, not just the rose-tinted hormones. As a realist, I get that. Even if I was sad at how often he pulled back from Terry.
I think that this book just does a great job of balancing all the little parts in order to make a highly entertaining read. The historical aspects don’t beat you over the head, but they do help ground the story in a time nearly fifty years removed from our own. Where expectations and decisions of a private and public nature were balanced on a different scale. It also doesn’t force one character to bear the burden of being the “problem child” of a story. Both Henry and Terry act like assholes at various times. But they also act like humans. You don’t get to the end of the story and go “well if X had not been a complete shithead, then everything would have been fine.” Their faults and their strengths balance out.
Plus, you know, this was just very well written. I had a lot of fun reading it. Even when I was hating on Terry. And any story that can take me from absolutely loathing a character to loving them by the end, well it’s going to get my recommendation.