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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
When it comes to Brian Freeman's second thriller, Stripped (sequel to 2005's Edgar Awardnominated Immoral), the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" couldn't be more fitting. Set amid the innumerable depravities of Sin City -- sex, drugs, gambling, organized crime, etc. -- the novel's very first line gives readers a pretty good indication of the debauchery to come: "She slipped the robe off her shoulders, and the white silk gathered in a pool of accordion folds at her feet..."
Protagonist Jonathan Stride -- a former Duluth police lieutenant who followed his girlfriend to Vegas and is now working as an LVPD homicide investigator -- is finding it hard to adapt to his neon-lit, surgically enhanced, completely superficial surroundings. The culture shock even extends to his partner on the job, Amanda Gillen, a non-operative transsexual (who is arguably the most grounded character in the novel!). While Stride's cop girlfriend, Serena Dial, investigates the hit-and-run death of a young boy, he struggles to unravel the bizarre murder of a rich socialite named M. J. Lane -- whose claim to fame, besides being the son of a billionaire producer, is starring in his own homemade porn flick. As they dig deeper, they begin to realize that the two cases have tenuous connections to the Scheherazade casino in 1967 -- specifically the brutal murder of an ambitious starlet that was never fully resolved. Meanwhile, a cunning serial killer is loose on the Strip…
With Vegas as the sordid backdrop, Stripped succeeds in large part because of the compelling dynamic between Stride and Dial and the pair's contrasting backgrounds. That said, fans of Freeman who are wondering where he is going to take his two protagonists in future installments will be more than surprised by the bombshell he drops at the novel's conclusion. Paul Goat Allen