Friday, September 04, 2009

Peepshow - Leigh Redhead

Most of you know my fondness for private eye novels, and you also know that I’m a Reactionary Curmudgeon who doesn’t think anything is as good as it used to be. But that’s not always true. Case in point is PEEPSHOW, a wonderful private eye novel by Leigh Redhead that also happens to be the first offering from a new, independent publisher of crime fiction, The Outfit.

PEEPSHOW was first published in Australia in 2004, and this new edition (with a great cover) from The Outfit is the first American edition. It introduces Simone Kirsch, a full-time stripper and sex-show worker in Melbourne who is also a part-time private detective. Simone has just gotten her PI license, because while her original ambition was to join the police force, her background as a stripper causes the police to reject her application. So she becomes a PI instead. Her first case isn’t a paying one, though: a friend of hers is kidnapped and held hostage by a strip club owner whose brother was murdered recently. He doesn’t trust the police to conduct a thorough investigation, so he tells Simone that if she doesn’t find out who killed his brother, he’ll kill her friend. Since the murdered man managed the club owned by his brother, Simone gets a job there as a stripper so that she can conduct her investigation from the inside.

Well, things get pretty complicated along the way, as things usually do in private eye novels, and just when you think things have gotten sorted out, a whole new layer of lies and deception opens up, and all of it plays out against a not very pleasant but vividly rendered background, as it should be since the author was a stripper herself and shares some autobiographical details with her creation. Simone is a great character, a little out of her depth and she knows it, not all that admirable but not the least bit apologetic for her background, and ultimately smart and likable enough that the reader can’t help but root for her. There are some really evil villains, some fine action scenes, and a few last-minute twists of the sort that are always welcome.

There are several sequels to this book, and I hope The Outfit brings them into print in America, too. I’ll definitely read them. PEEPSHOW will be out in November, and if you’re a fan of private eye novels, you should do yourself a favor and order a copy now.


Cap'n Bob said...

Ngong, ngong, ngong! Sounds like something in the vein of Money Shot, which I liked a lot. Thanks for the heads up, James. I'll BOLO for this one.

James Reasoner said...

Yeah, I meant to mention in my post that anyone who enjoyed MONEY SHOT should definitely check out PEEPSHOW.

David Cranmer said...

Based on your review alone, I will search this out.

RJR said...

All three boks are avaiable from abebooks. Apparently, Marele Day was a help to the author. Marele is Australia's Sue Grafton. I broughther here to accept a Shamus award about 15 years ago. I'll look forward to readong Miss Redhead (real name. Honest).