The Black Stiletto: Stars & Stripes

BensonBlackStilettoStarsStripesWhy I Read It: The first two were excellent.

Where I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Jukebox from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Super hero junkies and/or leather outfit junkies.

Narrators: Arielle DeLisle, Chet Williamson

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2013)

Length: 8 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Black Stiletto

Note that you could probably read each of these novels as a stand alone, but I think they are much more fun read as a series.

Once again, we get to ride around in Judy Cooper’s head via her diary entries. The year is 1960, an election year, and New York City is heating up with political and racial tensions. Judy herself ends up making a few ill choices and gains a few more scars for it. Meanwhile, in the modern day world, Judy’s son Martin Talbot continues to discover more about his nursing home-bound mother through her diaries. He also struggles with anxiety attacks as his mother’s old injuries continue to be scrutinized by her doctors.

These books are addictive. When I finish one of these books, I am immediately looking around for the next fix; alas, what will suffice until the next in the series is available in audio? Perhaps I will check out the numerous other works by Raymond Benson.

Judy, the masked Black Stiletto, is in her early 20s in this book and her character continues to grow. I especially liked that the author showed Judy muddling through life, drinking too much, making poor decisions and getting her ass handed to her in a few fights. This made Judy very real; I want to be her when I grow up. China Town, NYC style, played a healthy role in this story. The Black Stiletto found herself caught up in some Chinese organized crime. Her attempts to do good end up getting not only her injured, but others too. For a while there, I was afraid the Black Stiletto had met her match.

Meanwhile, the every day Judy joins John Kennedy’s political campaign, making new friends, and dressing as a Kennedy Girl in uniforms designed by Mrs. Kennedy. Of course, you can’t have Kennedy without the perceived evil blight of Communism. Hence, politics plays a bit of a role in this tale. I felt this aspect was a teensy over-played, but overall, it did not reduce my enjoyment of the book. My only other mild criticism is that Martin Talbot is just on the edge of too whiny in this book. Granted, he is highly stressed and suffering from anxiety attacks, but I found myself wanting more of Judy Cooper and less of Martin.

My little sin, concerning these books, is that I like to give myself a day off and play Diablo III while listening to the exploits of the Black Stiletto. In this particular sinful episode, my female barbarian must have been channeling the Black Stiletto. Every time the Stiletto got her ass kicked, my character went down. When Stiletto was victorious, so was my barbarian.

Narration: As usual for this series, the narration was spot on for this book. I am glad the two main narrators have been able to carry over through all 3 books. We also had a few Asian, Austrian, and South American accents, which were done well.

What I Liked: Poor Black Stiletto has to go through some growing pains; Chinese organized crime; behind-the-scenes political campaign stuff; the Black Stiletto gets injured and keeps going back for more.

What I Disliked: Martin was just on the edge of whiny for a chunk of this book; the communism aspect was OK but bot a big draw for me in this book.

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RIP8This month is the awesomely intense, spooky, and criminal reading event known as R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (RIP) hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Stop by his place to enjoy other discussions of Halloweenic persuasion.

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