Kirkus Reviews QR Code
TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE by Kate Allen

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE

By Kate Allen

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-934678-74-X

 Even though they aren't going to Mariposa Women's Land, in the New Mexico wilds, for the entire month that the Womyn's Only Space retreat is scheduled for, self-described butch Denver cop Alison Kaine and her friend Michelle Martin soon find that even a weekend of slinging adobe, forswearing men's ways, and bonding with their fellow dykes may be more than they can handle. Wheelchair tyrant Sarah Embraces-All-Things, who's ensconced herself in the seat of power, is loudly against men, straight women, transsexuals, sadomasochists (like Alison's lover Stacy, the leather goddess who shortly turns up in pursuit of her wandering lamb), divvying up the chores, and anything else that smacks remotely of patriarchy, and it's a deep relief when Alison finds her dead in the communal sweat lodge. But what to do about her death? Most of the assembled company--women like Seven Yellow Moons, Persimmon, Salad, Sandpaper, and G-hey!--don't share Alison's conviction that Sarah was murdered, and even those that do don't want the National Park police (viz., men) launching an investigation. So the question of who killed Sarah is largely (and wisely) eclipsed by much more invigorating debates about the role of institutional authority, the need for men's justice, and the inevitability of lesbian self-hatred; it's only in the rushed closing scenes that Allen (Give My Secrets Back, etc., not reviewed) remembers she's writing a whodunit. Straight readers who survive the charmless exposition are bound to be intrigued by Allen's mastery of the superlatively bitchy arguments whose most devastating retort is ``You sound just like a man.''