“This new PI has got a smart mouth on her, and plenty of wigs to help her find her own true character.”—The New York Times Book Review (on The Red Chameleon)It begins with a bang: Kathleen Stone is watching her friend Dolly and his fellow drag queens from The Pink Parrot perform at the Halloween Parade when their float explodes. Suspecting foul play, The Pink Parrot’s owner, Big Mamma, hires Kat to find the culprit.
Meanwhile, Kat has not given up on her quest to bring gangster Salvatore Magrelli to justice and once more dons a disguise to infiltrate The Skyview, an exclusive club run by his wife, Eva. When she watches the club’s poker dealer drop dead during a high-stakes game, she decides to look into his death as well. Upon discovering that he was also gay, she suspects that this murder could be a hate crime connected to the parade explosion.
However, as Kat digs deeper, she realizes that the truth is much more complicated and the real villains are much more difficult to spot.
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Identity as Camouflage: The Granite Moth Takes on Crime Kathleen Stone has an identity problem. As a private investigator, she uses various disguises and personas to hide her true self—not just to get the information she needs to solve cases, but also to keep herself out of the sight of the mob. Previously, Kathleen had worked undercover investigating members of the Salvatore Magrelli crime family, who she believes are still looking for her, making her driven to get information that will put the remaining family members in prison. The book begins with Kathleen in disguise at a Halloween Parade. She’s collecting information from Ellis Decker, a friend on the police force, and using the crowd to camouflage her presence. At the same time, Kathleen watches her good friend, Dolly, a transvestite with an amazing voice, perform on a float for the Pink Parrot Club. Suddenly, a juggler in the parade stumbles, and a chain of events embroil Kathleen in another investigation—one that may or may not link back to the Magrelli family. As Kathleen slides from one identity to the next to solve her two cases, death follows, and the clues and information she uncovers make her wonder about the motives and identities of everyone around her. Ultimately, she wonders about her own identity and must ask herself: Can anyone truly stay hidden? Author Erica Wright guides Kathleen Stone effortlessly through the worlds of hate groups, gay performers, police, and a variety of people affected by the deaths of others. Her protagonist has her share of doubts and fears, but moves constantly forward—just like Wright’s prose. Wright spares the reader the melodrama of a person in the throes of an identity crisis and gives instead a solid protagonist whose commitment to her friends and justice makes her brave and tireless in her pursuit of answers. Her character moves from blending in, like a granite moth on the side of a city building, to accepting that she can no longer hide. I received a review copy of this book free of charge, but was not paid for my review, nor coached on how to rate the book. My review is based solely on the quality of the book and my enjoyment of it. I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to reading Wright again.
The Granite Moth by Erica Wright Kathleen Stone is a former NYPD officer who has now became a Private Investigator. She is a master of disguise and seldom appears as herself. You might know her as Kennedy Vaners, as Katya Lincoln, Kathy Stevens, or even as a young man named Kevin. As the story begins, Kathleen is at the Halloween Parade looking for the float from The Pink Parrot, starring her friend Dolly and other female impersonators. Suddenly a juggler stumbles forward and his flaming torch ignites the Pink Parrot float. Horrified, Kathleen watches as the fire spreads, causing the fireworks aboard to explode in all directions. When the smoke clears, several of the Pink Parrot performers are dead, and Dolly is badly injured. Big Mamma, who owns the Pink Parrot hires Kathleen to investigate. The parade explosion seemed an accident, but was it really? Investigations lead Kennedy Vanders to a high stakes poker game. The dealer, a young man named Ernesto Belasco falls dead from poison after drinking a toast with the players. Dolly complains that it looks like someone is killing gay men and that the cops are doing little. But this case will take Kathleen into more danger than ever before. There is the homophobic cult leader who interrupts the funerals à la Westboro Baptist Church. There are the hostile parents of the Belasco kid. There is the crooked brother of a police detective working with Kathleen and the crook who’s involved with Kathleen’s friend and co-worker Meeza. Erica Wright’s tough but not quite noir lady detective make a mark of originality on the mystery/thriller gendre. The book flows along at a steady pace without being overtly wordy or stiff and stilted. The characters are well developed, the crimes shocking due to their reality, and the investigation/deduction solid. I believe Erica Wright has created a character that will enthrall readers for years to come. I give this novel four out of five stars. Quoth the Raven…