The Bottom Line: A highly original LGBTQ+ crime thriller with eye-popping doses of murder, mystery and romance.
In Alexi Venice’s third Monica Spade Novel, the battle-tested attorney agrees to represent a surgeon police want to question regarding the brutal murder of two of her patients. Monica learns that the surgeon, Dr. Nicole Kershaw, also has been threatened numerous times. As Kershaw describes it, some of her enemies are “paranoid, crazy haters” who target her because she’s the only transgendered surgeon who performs gender-affirming surgery. But the more Monica digs, the more potential suspects she finds within the surgeon’s past.
As she was in Venice’s award-winning legal thriller Standby Counsel, Monica is again equal parts attorney and detective, driven as much by her quest for justice as her own curiosity. In this installment, Venice digs deeper into Monica’s insecurities, grit and mettle. Monica is complemented by close friend, Detective Matt Breuer, who initially bristles at Monica’s newfound proclivity for police work. Their friendship is well-drawn as they navigate the dangerous world of a serial killer’s mind.
Venice sets the table for a gripping and graphic confrontation while shining the spotlight on gender-affirming surgery and violence against trans women. Set during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in America, fears about the supply chain, confusion about safety precautions, and disruptions to Monica’s legal practice add drama to what is already a white-knuckled case.
In Venice’s capable hands, readers can say goodbye to predictable tropes about the personal lives of main characters. Instead, Venice delivers an authentic challenge of two people in love, living together for the first time while learning to cope with the world changing around them. The chemistry between Monica and Shelby is off the charts, and the added friction explodes with intense sex scenes. Venice pours fuel on the already raging fire with a subplot involving jealousy over an ex-lover, testing Monica’s patience under life-threatening circumstances. The resolution will surprise and satisfy.
Highly recommend this mashup of crime thriller and lesbian romance.