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!