Lillian Byrd (Damn Straight, 2003) is playing mandolin and passing the hat on the streets of Detroit when a childhood friend brings her past rushing back.
Duane Secrist and Lillian were best friends growing up, drawn together by the knowledge that they were different from other kids—both were gay—until they were 12 years old. That summer, while Duane was off at camp, the Polka Dot, the bar Lillian’s parents owned, exploded when a deep-fat fryer malfunctioned, killing her mother, her father, and the barmaid. A fireman rescued Lillian, her aunt and uncle adopted her, and she never saw Duane again. His father picked Duane up after camp, and they took up residence in Florida with his father’s brand-new girlfriend, notable for her colorful expressions involving brooms, boots, and various orifices, substituting for Duane’s conveniently absent mother. Now Duane wants to find his mother, and he wants Lillian to help. Reluctantly agreeing, Lillian calls in the love of her life, the glamorous Minerva LeBlanc, true-crime author and victim of one of Lillian’s previous violent escapades. Despite some colorful episodes involving trailer parks and luxury cars, adventures that seem rather unlikely even for Las Vegas, the truth never quite emerges.
Mushy pulp fiction that entertains but doesn’t quite rise to its own ambitions.