The Black Stiletto: Black & White by Raymond Benson

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BensenBlackStilettoBlackAndWhiteWhy I Read It: the first in the series, The Black Stiletto, kicked ass.

Where I Got It: Own it – from Audible.com.

Who I Recommend This To: Craving a superhero story done right? Check this series out.

Narrators: Arielle DeLisle, Chris Patton, Michael Ray Davis

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2012)

Length: 9 hours 44 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Black Stiletto

This book is primarily told through Judy Cooper’s eyes, both when she is disguised as the Black Stiletto and when she is just plain Judy of the late 1950s. We also see a few smidgets through John Richardson, the FBI special agent assigned to locate and capture the Black Stiletto.The third voice is Martin Talbot’s, who is the conflicted son of Judy. He has realized who is mom is and is suffering some financial set backs. He knows he could make some money with revealing her long hidden and nearly forgotten identity. The story easily switches back and forth between Judy Cooper of the 1950s and Martin Talbot with an aged mother of modern day California.

Judy continues to grow in character and skill in this awesome addition to the Black Stiletto series. I absolutely loved the first book. Book 2 was just as good if not better. Raymond Benson skillfully draws in more complications to the plot, giving the reader the extra anxiety of FBI interest in the Black Stiletto. Special Agent John Richardson makes for an intriguing hunter and potential love interest. Add to that a heroin drug lord named Purdy who catches the interest of the Black Stiletto when the daughter of her martial arts instructor, Shakitawa, is taken. In her attempt to do a friend some good, a film maker ends up with an 8mm film of her unmasked in a dressing room, and he is threatening to unmask her publicly. Indeed, it is quite a tangled web for Judy Cooper to walk through.

Meanwhile, Martin Talbot in modern times struggles with his looming financial crisis while his daughter goes off to college in NY against his wishes. The poor man is then beleaguered by his mother’s doctor, who has noted some unusual old injuries for a lady of her age. She walks the line of all but accusing Martin of physically abusing his mother. Haha! He is pressured from all fronts to reveal his mother’s true identity.

This book was filled with great action, character growth, a wonderfully tangled plot artfully untangled by the author by the end of the tale. I hope, really, really hope, Raymond Bensen writes several books on the Black Stiletto. She has become my favorite super hero because she is simply so very human. She can be hurt, and does get hurt. Her personality, strong sense of justice, and hard-won skills are what carries her forward. Oh, and there is that wicked yet PG-rated sense of humor she has.

Narration: It was excellent. Crossroad Press picked a great triplet to give the various voices of the story. Arielle DeLisle is the perfect voice for Judy, with her mild Texas accent dropped into NY.

What I Liked: Judy kicks ass; all the characters have to face hurdles and they grow from them; I really like how the story jumps back and forth between 20-something Judy of 1959 and modern day son Martin; the Black Stiletto has to contemplate crossing some lines she hasn’t before; the whole trust issue of a super secret identity was great tension.

What I Disliked: Special Agent Richardson made a mistake and I felt for him (good writing) but I really, really hope we see more of him. So, more of a concern than a dislike.

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