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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lily White, Rose Red by Catt Ford

Lily White Rose Red by Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (215 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Meet Grey Randall, a hard-boiled detective whose sense of humor makes it hard for him to stay strictly noir. It's 1948 in Las Vegas—the newborn Sin City—and he's just landed his first murder case. He's more at ease among the lowlifes, but his new client, a beautiful, wealthy woman, a real femme fatale, moves in the upper crust of society.

Grey's hot on the trail of a killer, despite obstructive cops who don't want a private dick sniffing around and digging up secrets. And he starts getting close to the truth, but one of his suspects, Phillip Martin, AKA Mr. Big—AKA Mr. Beautiful—proves to be a man who could force Grey to reveal a dark secret of his own.

When a grand dame propositions Grey, he can’t refuse.

Hard boiled “dick” Grey Randall has seen a lot of fine women in his time, even if he’s not interested. Living in Vegas, he can’t help but recognize the femme fatale standing in his office but that doesn’t stop him from taking the case. Along the way he meets Mr. Big, a man Grey can’t stay away from but who just might be a suspect. There is no shortage of other suspects as well as the tangled web of Vegas politics, money, sex, and lies comes to life during Grey’s investigation. No one is safe, not even Grey himself.

Lily White, Rose Red is book one in a new series staring Grey Randall, detective. This first offering starts with a bang as the sexual tension and sensuality of the time period and the characters are immediate. This is classic noir mystery of the absolute best kind. From hard hitting to hard drinking and rough and tumble alley sex, the setting and era of the 40’s comes alive. The fabulous writing and authentic prose really steep the reader immediately into the mystery and gritty setting. The actual plot introduces you to a vast set of entertaining and absolutely compelling characters that manage to be memorable all on their own. This is a pretty big feat considering the large cast but they all stand out in their own way and make the story vivid and entertaining.

Aside from the fabulous characters, the mystery is well crafted. I figured out the culprit immediately as well as the various clues about what is really going on that Grey is trying to figure out on his own, but the superb writing and noir feel carries the story regardless. The only stumble is that this isn’t really a romance at all. It’s a gritty mystery with a lot of sexual tension and a couple truly steamy sex scenes thrown in but there is no big romantic ending. Because this is an ongoing series, there is a cliff hanger with a promise for more in upcoming books but those readers wanting a happy romantic ending are likely to be disappointed. Go into this if you want a great noir mystery with a splash of hot sex and you’ll be much happier.

The combination of truly stunning writing with great characters, a compelling mystery, and hot sex makes this story simply entertaining on all levels. Grey is a hard-edged private eye in everyway and thus he’s perhaps the least likable of the cast. His rude, roughshod manners may turn some readers off but I have faith that he’ll come around and find his happy ending eventually. In the mean time I’m quite happy to follow the ride as he investigates and digs into the glitz, glamour, and underbelly of late 40’s Vegas. I easily recommend this one.

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