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Stripped by Brian Freeman

The Book:

Protagonist Jonathan Stride — a former Duluth police lieutenant who followed his girlfriend to Vegas and is now working as an LVPD homicide investigator — is finding it hard to adapt to his neon-lit, surgically enhanced, completely superficial surroundings. The culture shock even extends to his partner on the job, Amanda Gillen, a non-operative transsexual (who is arguably the most grounded character in the novel!). While Stride’s cop girlfriend, Serena Dial, investigates the hit-and-run death of a young boy, he struggles to unravel the bizarre murder of a rich socialite named M. J. Lane — whose claim to fame, besides being the son of a billionaire producer, is starring in his own homemade porn flick. As they dig deeper, they begin to realize that the two cases have tenuous connections to the Scheherazade casino in 1967 — specifically the brutal murder of an ambitious starlet that was never fully resolved. Meanwhile, a cunning serial killer is loose on the Strip.

The View:

Oh, I enjoyed this book. It felt like I took forever to complete it because of a few other reads I was trying to wind-up but every time I picked the book again I had this rush of excitement, that we get only when a good book is read. I read Brian Freeman’s “Immoral” last year (I think) and enjoyed it so much that I promised to follow him as religiously as I do with Michael Koryta; but somewhere I seem to have lost track.

Jonathan Stride is in Vegas and has his first assignment – the brutal murder of a wealthy Hollywood director’s son. His partner is a gorgeous transvestite Amanda Gillen who has faced her share of ridicule in the uniform. Meanwhile, Serena is working on a hit and run case. At the surface both the cases are unrelated; but as they dig deeper they realize that not only are these cases related but they also have a close link with a showgirl’s murder that happened many years back.

The characters had a complexity that I loved. Given the backdrop location and the intense plot; the complex characters were well-justified and needed. I particularly liked Amanda, when she was introduced I thought that she was just going to be there; a person who would have an isolated story of her own. But she blended so beautifully in, connecting well with Jonathan and surpassing everyone’s expectation.

The plot was intense and electrifying. The story had a little bit of everything but utmost care has been taken to not provide an overdose of any one emotion. Greed, love, lust, sex, sensuality, faith, loyalty, murder, power, revenge… just name it. Gladly a 5 on 5 and a mental note to go back and re-read IMMORAL so I can review it in my blog for everyone’s benefit.



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