killer declares war on Hollywood’s transvestite community.
By day, Patrick Kessler is the devoted husband of Susan Kessler and chief of staff to LA city councilman Jeff Flowers. By night, he dons a wig and dress and becomes Patricia, trawling clubs like Nicola’s looking for fellow feeling and action. One night, overcome with self-loathing and burdened by a terrible secret, he stops at St. Margaret Mary’s and tries to confess his sins to Father O’Reilly, but the horrified priest turns him away, and a few minutes later, he’s stabbed to death outside the Regency Arms. The Flowers connection would guarantee publicity and headaches for Capt. Josie Corsino, commanding officer of the Hollywood police station (Fallen Angels, 2012), even if Henry Trumbo didn’t seal the deal in record time by getting killed in a Regency Arms guest room. Trumbo, who became a carpenter and escort after he was fired from the LAPD, clearly has what it takes to be a victim, right down to the lace panties. But what’s the connection between the two murders and the numerous other nonfatal attacks on local cross-dressers? Josie’s face-offs with Councilman Flowers, Kessler’s moneyed father, her craven police superiors and the oil-and-water members of her team crackle with authenticity. But her romance with a former LAPD colleague working the case with her provides too convenient a solution to her marital woes, and the portrayal of Kessler and other transvestites, whom Dial seems incapable of distinguishing from aspiring transgender folks, is less persuasive.
The big reveal manages to be at once surprising, logical and untidy in wrapping up a case with more loose ends than Josie’s domestic situation—and that’s saying quite a bit.