|Review By: Kelly Gardiner|
Micky Knight is one of the best damn characters in lesbian detective fiction. She’s tough. She’s smart. She’s cool. She’s fucked up. Women love her. And so do I (in a purely Platonic sense, of course).
Micky first appeared in Death by the Riverside, a wonderfully sleazy and tough yarn that had its heroine set upon by every evil thug in New Orleans. She fought ‘em all off, battled snakes with her bare hands, saved a few lives, and got a date with the girl of her dreams. That’s what I call a book.
In Redmann’s second novel, Deaths of Jocasta, Micky was defending her lover from nutters and still fighting off the other girls with a stick. Somehow, she just can’t stay out of strife. Still fucked up, she was battling to stay sober and deal with the kinds of dreadful demons which plague all the best detectives of the genre: poverty, sexual abuse, grief, and a major chip on her shoulder about being white trash and dating old money.
You really do need to read the books in order, because by the time we meet her in The Intersection of Law and Desire, Mickey has developed into a regular pain in the butt. Fiercely independent, she can’t come to terms with any hint of domesticity. She works all night and forgets her friend’s birthdays. She won’t tell anyone close to her what is really going on because she doesn’t know how. Nobody trusts her any more. She won’t trust anybody. She’s still pretty tough, but is she losing her edge? Has she gone too far?
She’d better get her shit together by the next instalment or nobody but her extremely patient cat will be talking to her, and only the most steadfast fans will be sticking around to read of her adventures. Get a damn counsellor, Micky. Go to AA. Eat properly. Be nice to your girlfriend. Feed your cat, for godsake. And stop wearing those stupid little black cocktail dresses borrowed from your drag queen cousin. Call yourself a butch!
New Orleans is the real star of these books, taking on a role of its own as the seedy and infested swamp-ridden town in which any evil is possible (and in this book, there’s some pretty nasty stuff happening). This is the decadent New Orleans of vampires and gangsters, and Redmann captures it as beautifully as Rice or even Hellman. Anything vile is possible here.
Micky is simply a child of this rotten world, but she is also the white Knight who will ride into any nest of dragons and slay them. Like the heroes of Chandler or Hammett, she can deal with anything the world throws at her, except tenderness, and it’s her struggle with these conflicting tensions which creates the real interest. While this novel is not the best of the three (I much prefer the first), it skilfully entices the reader into the same web of tension and violence in which Micky is trapped.
But hopefully, one day soon, she can ride off into the sunset with the long-suffering Cordelia. All this getting bashed and staying sober and resisting the temptation of beautiful women throwing themselves at you must be tiring.