DANGEROUS GAMES by Robert L. Bentley

DANGEROUS GAMES

The True Story of a Convicted Murderer on Death Row Who Changed His Sex and Won Her Freedom
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A startling portrayal of life at the frayed edges of the American Dream--of drag shows, transvestite hustlers, teenage hookers, flophouses--and murder most foul. Free-lance writer Bentley centers his narrative on Leslie Douglas Ashley, a flamboyant drag performer who in the early 80's fled Houston for Manhattan. Failing to make it in the Gotham clubs, Ashley, still in drag, took to the streets as a prostitute. Returning to Texas, he encountered Carolyn Ann Lima, a slightly retarded 17-year-old hooker. The two joined forces, servicing clients from schoolboys to traveling salesmen. One of the pair's johns was a local real-estate agent who--according to their later testimony--became threatening during an assignation. Lima pumped six rounds into the man, then helped Ashley drag the body to a nearby vacant lot, where they set it on fire. Taking their victim's car, the two set out for Manhattan, pausing briefly in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Picked up in N.Y.C. on a minor charge, Ashley and Lima were returned to Texas on murder charges. Ashley was condemned to death, despite an insanity defense; Lima plea- bargained and received time. During an appeal, it became clear that the prosecution had withheld evidence regarding Ashley's mental condition, and, after a new sanity hearing, the transvestite was put in a mental institution. Ashley was eventually pardoned; today, after a sex-change operation, she's politically active as a spokesperson for ACT UP--although Bentley indicates that her abrasive personality goes unappreciated even by that organization. An engrossing look at a shadowy area of American life--and the dark underbelly of the Reagan years. (Eight pages of photographs)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55972-180-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993