30 June 2011

Book Review: Dead Light District by Jill Edmondson

Title: Dead Light District
Author: Jill Edmondson
Publisher: IGUANA
ISBN: 978-0-986683-80-0
Format: Paperback
264 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review copy provided by author

Dead Light District is the second installment of the Sasha Jackson Mystery series by Jill Edmondson. Sasha is a feisty, streetwise, private investigator.

Dead Light District is set in the sleazy red-light district of Toronto. Sasha is hired by Candace Curtis, a classy madam who runs a thriving bordello business, to find a missing Mexican hooker named Mary Carmen.

When a vicious pimp turns up dead in a hotel, Sasha soon figures out what prompted Mary to run away but Mary is determined not to be found and is resourceful in her ways to evade everyone. Will she be able to evade Sasha too?

The story about why Mary ran away and how she manages to keep one step ahead of Sasha, is interspersed with Sasha's investigation. Mary is desperate to get back to Mexico and has decided the end justifies the means.

As Sasha delves into the world of hookers, pimps, and strippers, she suspects a client that uses the bordello is being blackmailed. Is there a connection to the murdered pimp and Mary's disappearance?

Sasha boldly immerses herself in the seedy underworld of commercial sex and gets to know some outlandish characters such as Todd, a friendly drag queen, and Terra, a ditzy hooker. Finding Mary is a challenge for Sasha but she uses her ingenious methods to be able to put disparate clues together and to follow Mary's trail. As Sasha stubbornly pursues Mary and throws caution to the wind, she puts her own life at risk as she gets closer to solving more than one mystery and finding Mary.

The sleazy business of the sex trade is graphically portrayed in Dead Light District so it isn't as light-hearted as the author's first novel, Blood and Groom, but saying that, the story still manages to have some very funny dialogue, as well as some amusing, quirky characters. Indeed, although the sex-for-sale theme is treated seriously, the story has lots of humour and the protagonist is every bit as likeable as she was in the first Sasha Jackson Mystery.

Dead Light District includes gritty language and a disturbing sexual theme but it is also a rollicking, engaging story with a fabulous - and very satisfying - ending. Like Blood and Groom, the setting of Toronto is again featured prominently throughout the story, and the protagonist, Sasha Jackson, is once again solving a mystery with a combination of her intelligence, tenacity, and (amusing!) snarkiness.

Dead Light District is a lively and exciting read and I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for review.

I recommend Dead Light District for those who like a fast-paced mystery with an amusing tone. The story is about a serious subject (prostitution) but the author has balanced it with plenty of humour, quirky characters, and a compelling mystery.

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