Monday, January 25, 2016

Review of Peepshow by Leigh Redhead (Allen and Unwin, 2004)

Simone Kirsch always wanted to join the police force.  The police, however, do not want her given her time working in peepshows and as a stripper.  Undaunted she’s taken an evening class as a private investigator and gained her license.  With her first case she’s dropped in at the deep end, investigating the murder of Frank Parisi, the notorious owner of The Red Room, one of Melbourne’s premier strip clubs.  To provide added motivation, Frank’s older brother has kidnapped her friend Chloe, demanding a result within two weeks or he’ll end her life.  Looking for fast answers Simone heads undercover in The Red Room trying to find clues while baring all.  She’s soon on the trail of a corrupt policeman, is being pursued by another, has fallen in lust with a rockabilly guitarist, and trails round Melbourne’s sex industry, usually with a hangover.  With the clock ticking down, Simone seems out of her depth, but she’s determined to try and shed her water wings and to find the killer and save her friend.

In the late 90s/early 00s I read a whole bunch of tart noir tales involving sassy, smart female PIs who usually got themselves involved in dangerous, madcap adventures with a side-line in romantic/lustful romps.  Peepshow fits neatly into the sub-genre, but with sex/sexy dial turned up to eleven.  Leigh Redhead provides a vivid glimpse in the peepshow and stripping side of the sex industry, and leaves little to the imagination with respect to the sex life of her lead character, Simone Kirsch, a stripper turned private investigator.  Simone’s task is to find the killer of a strip club owner under threat that her friend, Chloe, will die if she fails.  Given that the police have failed to turn up any clues it’s a tall order.  Thrown into the mix is a colourful set of strippers, a corrupt cop, a rockabilly band, two suitors – a guitarist and an undercover cop – and a lot of champagne and drugs.  The result is quickly paced romp laced with plenty of humour.  There’re not too many surprises in the telling, but the story is good explicit fun and sets up the series well.  Simone Kirsch is certainly breaks the usual PI mould and I’m looking forward to her next case.

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