“The conversation sort of stopped naturally because of two men who in that moment were defined by fear and nothing else. The fear of opening up to the possibilities of who they really were and what they could become together. Instead of saying what they really wanted to say, they said things in riddles, and so said nothing.”Mr Pink
Mr Pink by Patrick Hjertén
Genre: Thriller, Romance, LGBT, Adult
Setting(s): London, Los Angeles, Stockholm
Release date: October 2020
Publisher: Matador, Troubadour
Trigger and content warnings // rape, sex slavery, sexual content and outing threats.
Will Mr Pink choose love or revenge?
Mr Pink is a sociopathic magazine publisher hell-bent on taking an elaborate revenge for an old wrongdoing. Half Swedish and half English with the right pedigree, good looks and enviable self-esteem, Mr Pink opens every door. He plays by his own rules, uses every trick in the book and invents some new ones. For Mr Pink, sex is a way to manipulate others and see to it that he gets what he wants. He plays his victims like an instrument, each time getting the tune that he seeks.
Mr Pink’s path is crossed by a Swedish journalist, Andreas, who with he enters into a volatile relationship. It leads to an emotional wake up as well as soul searching, and Mr Pink has to look at his own reflection and wonder if he likes what he sees.
I want to thank Jennifer Vance, from Books Forward, for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
When I first saw the synopsis, I naturally thought Mr Pink would be an exhilarating read. Revenge quest? Sociopath? A little bit of romance? I thought, yes, sign me up! But, unfortunately, it didn’t quite deliver to my expectations despite the fact that there was a lot of potential.
The revenge quest wasn’t as elaborate, intricate and suspenseful as I hoped it would be. A fine balance needed to be struck between romance and revenge. The writing contained far too many verbs and overly descriptive passages in parts that don’t really need to be described down to every little detail, and the romance is a slow-burn, yearning, pining and all that razzle dazzle which was particularly frustrating. However, and a big one at that, in the end, the romance plot was actually pretty freaking adorable, and I wanted more! Andreas is a moody and sensitive softie and, you know what, so is our resident “sociopath” Mr Pink, and once you finally learn more about Mr Pink’s backstory and what’s fuelled his desire for vengeance, you realise he is actually a softie on the inside too.
Overall, I can’t say Mr Pink was a favourite read, I often found myself exasperated. While it had a lot of potential and promise, the execution was pretty on the nose and clunky.
MR PINK AND REVENGE
My first impression of Mr Pink was that he’s very cold and calculating… but also a try-hard. You know when someone is trying too hard to be cool? And you process their inner monologue and find yourself cringing slightly, but then end up pitying them because it’s clear they need some TLC to work away that need for external validation or desire for respect. It’s so obvious that Mr Pink cares what people think of him because why else would he meticulously construct a personal brand to gain both respect and fear?
I was on the fence about whether I associate Mr Pink as a sociopath, but, by the end, he’s far from a sociopath… because if that’s what a sociopath is, then what is Arya Stark for being fuelled by a justified desire for revenge? Mr Pink is not a sociopath. Not really. Not especially after you read his backstory, it makes less sense that he’s written as if he’s a Littlefinger and Mr Bond hybrid (hence why he’s constantly referred to as ‘Mr Pink’ in the text… which got less cool and more repetitive), when really the inner monologue could have benefited if his character was approached similar to how Coriolanus Snow’s is in ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’.
But then again I’m reminded of some of Mr Pink’s more shady and terrible moments including fat-shaming and deliberately going out of his way to ignore and defy the concerns and stories of women during the #MeToo movement, yet his quest for revenge contradicts this entirely. So, Mr Pink is either out of character or greatly inconsistent. Or maybe he’s like one of those men who only care if terrible things are done to only women he personally knows… (can we also discuss how this is really a narcissistic move?).
How far would Mr Pink go to get revenge? There are a few scenes that may be considered upsetting particularly if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there are a few revenge plot scenes which could have been developed better such as the penultimate revenge plot, it was nowhere near as suspenseful as it could have been and there was too much time wasted with passages elaborating exactly how mysterious and devious Mr Pink is. Telling rather than showing… let’s be real, it can come across as overcompensating.
When Mr Pink’s backstory is finally revealed, and why exactly he’s on this grand quest for vengeance, *I hate to be so cliché but…* I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I needed it to be over quickly because it was shocking, disturbing and upsetting to read. I almost wish I hadn’t read it at all. But the final showdown itself was an absolute blur and, funnily enough, is an area that would have greatly benefited from far more descriptive passages. It was over before I even knew it, and I felt let down because it wasn’t particularly clear how they were *taken down*.
ROMANCE – MR PINK AND ANDREAS
“No, I usually just have take-out from the Thai restaurant across the street.”
“And it seems like you will be keeping them in business for some time yet,” Mr Pink whispered to himself.
Andreas, we are told, is playing hard to get. Maybe I’m not reading the room well, but, to me, it just seemed more so that he was caught up in his feels. I actually really liked Andreas. Just thinking about him makes me chuckle because he’s clearly a moody and sensitive guy in a sort of upset yet adorable panda bear way… and this is basically what Mr Pink is really like on the inside. Andreas is just more upfront about it.
What I did find frustrating was the somewhat mutual pining and yearning and longing Mr Pink feels for Andreas… and I thought, “Based on what? You’re barely talking.” It harkened back to my reading Pride and Prejudice, but, eventually, when things fall into place, and I can’t spoil much, it’s wonderfully sweet. Yes, it was worth it. I would have loved the romance angle to be explored significantly more because it was one of the better parts about Mr Pink!
Where the book could have significantly improved is the writing style. I found myself reluctant to return to Mr Pink for this very reason. It’s very, very, very descriptive. Mr Pink is doing this, Mr Pink is doing that, the wall was this colour, she was wearing this bag… and now that I think of it, I’m starting to recall which book it brought to mind… and it’s American Psycho. I have to wonder if Patrick Hjertén was in particular inspired by Bret Easton Ellis. I personally preferred the more sentimental passages where Mr Pink explores his feelings for Andreas.
J. K. ROWLING DOES A NUDE COVER? & ROYAL LONDON HOSPITAL IS MENTIONED!
“There was the picture where the magazine had succeeded in getting Lady Gaga into an oversized, men’s grey suit, and, next to it, the cover with J.K. Rowling naked apart from a strategically placed gold leaf.”
I genuinely think she was mistaken for Dumbledore. Or Fred and George. Way more up their street.
The book mentions Royal London Hospital specifying that it’s located in Central London… which is not true. It’s based in Whitechapel, East London! I will not have East London taken off the map like just like that!
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What are your thoughts on Mr Pink? What are some of your favourite writing styles and which don’t work great for you? And what are some of your favourite LGBT romances? Let me know in the comments!
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