THE KILLER WORE LEATHER, BY LAURA ANTONIOU
Diego was positively giggling when he handed me this paperback, saying "You have to read this!"
I honestly cannot think of a better indication that someone cares for you. He knows exactly how I like my coffee, even though I never told him; he just paid attention and learned. And, so far, his book recommendations are always spot-on.
Synopsis: A hotel is being taken over by a leather and kinky sex convention and contest. One of the judges, and last year's winner, is found murdered in his room. Detective Rebecca Feldblum, (called Detective Dyke by her colleagues) is called in to investigate.
Overall enjoyment: 10/10. It was such a fun read; it had me laughing out loud on some parts, and always eagerly turning the pages.
Plot: It is the classic whodunnit, with lgbt/kink/leather/BDSM as background. One of the things I loved was that the suspense and mystery by themselves are well constructed and engaging, this book is not an excuse to talk about kinky sex with a weak plot to connect things.
Characters: Fascinating and well-written. It would have been very easy to give either a condescending or a judgmental look at them, but instead she manages to tell a story about people, and make you genuinely care about them. The back story of Slave Bitsy and Tom had me hugging my pillow like only the best type of fluff fanfic can do.
World/setting: She's very careful and savvy with the convention atmosphere. How chaotic it is, trying to appease all the different wills of the people involved. That was another nice touch.
Writing style: Fun, fast-paced, easy to read. The mystery is classic and the suspense is well constructed.
Representation: Oh, wow, where do I start? You have people of all colors, shapes, sizes, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications... It's easier to say what I didn't find in this book: there was no specifically stated Muslim character, and no asexuals (but then, it is a "kinky sex" convention, so maybe that would be a bit weird). You have Jewish, black, Asian, gay, straight, bisexual, MtF, FtM, agender, non-binary... And also, lipstick lesbians, butch lesbians, middle-ground lesbians, girly gay boys, bears, daddies, drag queens... Monogamous people, bigamous, polyamorous, aromantics... And, just like in real life, her world is that much richer for it.
Political correctness: Like I said, it would have been very easy to be judgmental or condescending in this setting, but this book is not. She treats all these people like normal people because they are. And she does a very good job of showing that, just because you're taking part of a more liberal subculture, it doesn't mean you're immediately free of prejudice. There is a bisexual woman who is in a polyamorous relationship with a man and a woman at the same time; everyone keeps calling her "straight" and "breeder", and saying she could "at least pretend to be queer". And several other instances of prejudice that really shouldn't exist (but do, of course). I especially like how she shows that sometimes people are automatically weary of each other because of their own experiences, like, for instance, Rebecca and Dominick (the two detectives who investigate the case and who didn't know each other at the start of the book) are immediately put on guard, her thinking that he might be a homophobe and him thinking she might be racist. And, of course, their reserves about each other only increase their own suspicions, until they finally hash things out.
This is such a good book! Usually we use "it reads like fanfiction" as a bad thing, meaning something sloppily written. This book does read like fanfiction, but it's like the best type of fanfiction: carefully thought out, explicit and mature discussion of sex, awareness, and all those things that make us love fanfic so much.
Up next: The House of Discarded Dreams, by Ekaterina Sedia