Read as part of CBR13Bingo: they/she/he. The author is a trans woman and the protagonist (as well as another main character) is also a trans woman.
Once again, I’m grateful for book bingos because they challenge me to read stuff that I’ve been making excuses to put off.
It’s no secret that the mystery/thriller world is largely devoid of bestselling LGBTQIA+ writers, specifically trans writers. This is not for lack of talent, rather a lack of seeking talent on behalf of publishing houses. On the rare occasion a trans author of any variety is published by the big shots, their work often gets marketed as “diversity,” as if a box is checked.
I have to own my hypocrisy here: as a voracious mystery/thriller reader, I haven’t explicitly sought out writers who are openly trans. When the bingo square for trans authorship and/or main character was posted, I knew I was out of excuses.
Crimereads.com is an essential site for these but all they had on a search for the word “transgender” was an interview with several authors, including Robyn Gigl, a trans woman whose debut work featured a trans woman as a protagonist. So I gave it a go.
I’m glad I did. This book essentially functions as two things: 1. A legal case involving a Black trans woman who is accused of a crime against the son of a powerful politico and 2. Erin, the protagonist, trying to find her way in the world two years after transitioning. This could fall into the showing-v-telling trap but Robyn Gigl handles it well. She’s able to synthesize both stories to make them feel real and earned. Add in a healthy dose of New Jersey politics in all their baroque, corrupt glory and you’ve got a winner.
I will add for folks that are triggered by anti-LGBTQIA+ violence that this book comes with some caveats…
- Erin, the protagonist, is on the receiving end of a lot of micro aggressions.
- Erin’s client, a Black trans woman who was working as a prostitute, is under incarceration during the narrative and there are some rough scenes. Nothing graphic but still.
As well intentioned as the book is, if those things are tough for you, please sit this one out.