Private eye Kathleen Stone (The Red Chameleon, 2014) gives her wigs a workout trying to figure out who’s menacing New York’s drag queens.
Everybody loves a parade, except maybe the NYPD, whose members worry that the city’s annual Halloween trek up Sixth Avenue will somehow get out of hand. This year, the boys in blue have a point. As fireworks boom overhead, Darío Rodriguez, known to his fans at the Pink Parrot as Dolly, begins to belt out “Rocket Man.” Suddenly someone in the crowd pushes a juggler tossing fire batons in the air near the Pink Parrot float, setting the papier-mâché stage ablaze, badly burning Dolly and killing fellow performers Bobbie Giabella and Taylor Soto. Grieving over the loss of two of her rising stars, owner Lacy “Big Mamma” Burstyn hires Kathleen to find their killer. She shows her an engraved funeral notice she received forecasting not only Bobbie's and Taylor’s deaths but those of Dolly and fellow performers Herman White, Ravi Sethi, Aaron Kline, Carlton Casborough, and Juniper Summer. Believing the card to be from the homophobic Zeus Society, Kathleen dons a blond wig and a frumpy gray dress to pose as Kate Manning, who asks Zeus leader Cronos Holt to help cure her fictitious gay nephew. In addition, Kathleen asks her old NYPD pal Ellis Dekker to help her infiltrate the Skyview, a members-only club owned by Salvatore Magrelli’s wife, Eva, hoping to catch the mob boss red-handed in some dastardly deed. Ellis’ brother wangles Kathleen’s red-wigged alter-ego Katya a place in a high-stakes poker game, where she watches the dealer crumple and die after a sip of champagne. When Kathleen learns that Ernesto Belasco was also gay, she suspects there’s more nastiness going on at the Skyview than cheating at cards. But connecting Belasco’s death with the fire on the Pink Parrot float will take grit, gumption, and even more disguises.
More concentrated than Kathleen’s debut, Wright’s second entry begins to develop a detective who can shine through all those costume changes.