Peepshow by Leigh Redhead

Bernadette, of the excellent Reactions to Reading blog, recently sent me a book which I very much enjoyed, and can recommend to anyone who needs cheering up — but who is also broad-minded ;-). The book is engagingly written, being an attractive mix of pragmatism, pace and optimism as Simone, the main character (whose work name is Vivien Leigh), and other females throughout the book, are trapped in an industry that exploits them, yet treat their situation with wry good humour. Simone in particular has obtained a hard-won PI’s licence so is determined to use the discovery of the body of a sex-club owner as an excuse to hone her skills in a more interesting direction than being a dancer in a peepshow “club”. I won’t provide a review of the book here, though this synopsis will give you an idea:

About the book on the author’s website: “Simone Kirsch, private eye with a difference, always wanted to join the police force. She’s smart, fit and wants to do good. But she has a problem. She has worked as a stripper for the last three years and the service won’t let her in. Instead, she enrols in an enquiry agent’s course at a security college, tops the class and it looks like she might have some surveillance work coming up. It’s all going to plan. But then her best friend Chloe – a fellow stripper who works at Melbourne’s notorious The Red Room – is kidnapped by gangsters after its owner is murdered and Simone has two weeks to find the culprit and save Chloe’s life.”

I very much agree with the quotation on the cover of the novel which favourably compares Leigh Redhead with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. I’ve long since given up reading Janet Evanovich but Redhead’s book is like a breath of fresh air, striking that very difficult balance between humour and realism. I liked it a lot and highly recommend it the next time you are looking for a lighter read that at the same time pulls no punches about the seamier side of Melbourne life. I think I probably would not read another in the series – my experience of light novels is that they are better as a single dose than as a series – but as a one-off, this was a highly enjoyable read.

Thank you, Bernadette!

More about Simone Kirsch, P.I.

Read reviews of this novel at: January Magazine, Spinetingler, and Reviewers Choice Reviews.

6 thoughts on “Peepshow by Leigh Redhead

  1. Maxine – Oh, yes, I remember reading about this one! Thanks for the reminder. You make such an excellent point about the difference between a standalone and a series when it comes to light touches and humour and it’s true: some stories are better as standalones than as part of a series. This one sounds like a good ‘un, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. This sounds like a good one to keep in mind. The reference to Janet Evanovich reminds me that I stopped reading her series, but would pick up one of them if I needed a laugh.
    I lately did need wit after reading a brutal book, and read “Containment,” by Vanda Symon and one of Camiller’s Montalbano books. They both did the trick.

  3. I’m glad it made you laugh as that was its intended purpose. I have only read this one though I do have another here in my TBR pile that I might read one day but I agree I don’t think it’s possible to pull off a whole series where the humour of the situation provides most of the content. I also got a bit put off after seeing Leigh herself doing the rounds of festivals and she kept going on (and on and on) about the realism of the situations as she herself was a stripper. There is a limit to how windswept and interesting you can make that job sound 🙂

    Nice to have you back, even if it is at a slightly slower rate than in the past. Just remember, the fewer books you review the more chance my TBR pile has to reduce 🙂

  4. Ditto. This website and RTR have increased my TBR lists, but in a good way, and have expanded my global reading so much more, because of good reviews of good books. Forward to 2011’s international crime fiction and its challenges.

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