A porn star experiences an epiphany of sorts in the wake of her husband’s death.
Prolific novelist Mosley (Little Green, 2013, etc.) fielded his fair share of criticism for his X-rated one-two punch of Killing Johnny Fry (2006) and Diablerie (2007), and readers attracted to the equally explicit nature of this novel might be expecting more of the same. In truth, readers are likely to be more surprised by the depth of protagonist Sandra Peel, whom the author treats with tremendous compassion. Of course, when we first meet Sandra, she’s in the guise of Debbie Dare, an ivory-haired, black pornographic film star who, in the midst of a typical scene, experiences a rare and revelatory orgasm, causing her to pass out. She returns home to find that her husband, fellow porn-film actor and part-time pimp Theon Pinkney, has accidentally electrocuted himself and a 16-year-old runaway in a hot tub during a sex act. The book then follows the well-read and resolute woman through the next week or so as she tries to sort out her husband’s funeral, avoid the mobsters who want her to pay her dead husband’s debts, figure out a way to quit the business, reconnect with friends and family, and listen to the whisper of suicide sailing behind her cold eyes. Except for flashbacks and the novel’s opening scene, there’s not even any sex for the determined exile-to-be. “Thousands of us boys and girls had run screaming from the same filth and stink of poverty,” she says. “Black and white and brown and yellow and red had put out their thumbs and pulled down their pants, used lubricants and drugs and alcohol to escape these decaying ancestors and others just like them.” Mosley’s characteristically well-crafted cast also includes a kind police detective, a nonjudgmental shrink and a shy young architect with a crush on the non-glammed-out Sandra.
A well-told redemption song about the most unlikely of heroines.