P R Ellis, August 2015, 254 pages, ellifont, Ebook (the paperback edition is available from the author)
Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
Jasmine was forced out of the police force by prejudice and discrimination and now makes an uncertain living as a private detective. Working on her first case for the Department of Works and Pensions, she is investigating a possible benefits fraud, and is hopeful that it might lead to a more profitable and secure income. She is on surveillance, bored and uncomfortable. A young girl runs from a house shouting fire, and Jasmine's first instinct is to help, although it will mean breaking her cover. When she hears that another young woman, Xristal, is in the house she breaks in but finds her dead - the fire seemingly centred on her body. Xristal turns out to be a young "she-man" a male with some of the physical attributes of a female who earns her living as a prostitute providing a very exclusive and specific service.
DS Tom Shepherd, Jasmine's former colleague, and still a friend, is assigned the case, now identified as murder, and his superior, despite his apparent dislike and distrust, decides to appoint Jasmine as a consultant due to her expertise of the transgender world. She finds herself drawn into a new, complicated world of the difficult choices that some make to survive.
As well as the murder, this is the story of Jasmine's life and her transition from male to female. Unusually, her former wife is supportive of her goals but Jasmine finds herself with few friends after starting her decision. The response of most former friends and colleagues to her has been negative, so when a new neighbour, Viv, seems to be attracted to her, she is initially disbelieving and suspicious, but hopeful of the possibility.
This is the sequel to PAINTED LADIES and describes a further stage on the long, painful and complicated procedures that are necessary for transgender to achieve their ultimate goal - to be the person they need and want to be. A difficult subject, dealt with sensitively but informatively.
Susan White, March 2016