Ellis, P R - 'Painted Ladies'
Jasmine is a young woman, ex-CID, who is trying establish a private detective business. She is called to a murder scene by her ex-colleague Tom, who tells her that her old boss, Sloane, has asked for her assistance. Jasmine is surprised as it was Sloane's behaviour that led to her resignation and is the basis for her constructive dismissal case.
When she arrives at the scene, Jasmine finds that the woman is thought to be the latest victim of the serial rapist that has been at large for some time. Wondering why she has been specifically asked for, Jasmine is horrified to find the unidentified victim was, in fact, a transvestite, perhaps murdered because the rapist was so angry to find a man rather than a woman. Sloan thinks that Jasmine will automatically be able to help identify the victim, since Jasmine used to be known as DC Jim Frame until she started her transition to DC Jasmine Frame and Sloan believes that means that she will known everyone in "that world”. But Jasmine is transgender, not a cross-dresser, and although more knowledgeable, is not in contact with the cross-dressing world. However, she knows someone who might help and finds that the victim was Sandy whose alter ego was Sandra.
Unfortunately, Sandra isn't the last victim. The rapist, now turned killer, starts to target cross-dressers and Jasmine is asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, reversing everything she believes to be true about herself - to pretend to be a man, pretending to be a woman - and act as a decoy.
I have very little knowledge about the lives of transgenders or transvestites and found the information given was just at the right level necessary to inform without being puerile. Jasmine is a very engaging character, well written and believable. Her emotions and feelings are central to the book and, I hope, will shed light on a situation that cannot be easy to accept and live with in face of everyday prejudice.
However, this is a crime novel and stands on its own as such. I found it a page-turner and really enjoyed reading it. It is the first novel in a sequence featuring Jasmine Frame and I am looking forward to reading the next.
Susan White, England