by Laura Antoniou
Oh my goodness, what a sexy, funny, clever tale Laura Antoniou has managed to collar here! It's a little bit tongue-in-cheek, a little bit knowing-wink, and a little bit eye-opening peek, all depending on how readers orient themselves to the tale.
The Killer Wore Leather is a well thought-out, well-played murder mystery that just happens to take place in a fetish-filled environs of a BDSM convention. If you're thinking that's hardly original, especially since CSI has already done it more than once, you're right, but Antoniou cleverly owns up to that. In fact, she even has one of her characters reference the fact very early on, just so there are no misunderstandings. Yes, she nods to the reader, it's been done before, but never by such a well-qualified insider, and never with such depth and deliciousness.
As murder mysteries go, that element of the tale is rather straightforward. It's your traditional whodunit, with all of the false leads, red herrings, and misdirection you might expect. Personally, I solved the case rather more quickly than the lovely Detective Rebecca Feldblum, but that's perfectly all right. It's the investigation that drives the story, not the solution, and there are a lot of clever twists along the way.
I loved the way Antoniou peeled back the leather and the latex, peeked beneath the satin and the lace, and exposed the human beings involved in the scene. She plays to their fantasy personas, but also has some good-natured fun with their fetishes. For every scene that excites or titillates the reader, there's another that makes us pause, think, and feel for the characters. There are sincere homages to many stereotypes within the book, but some nonchalant dismissals of others as well. Just like in real life, nobody is wholly defined by their costume or their role, and others are so very much not what you would expect.
Oh, and I'm not just talking about the convention attendees, either. Antoniou paints the detectives, hotel staff, and other guests with just as diverse a brush, revealing some clever and witty insights along the way.
Ultimately, aside from the delicious humour, I think what really distinguishes The Killer Wore Leather is its commitment to the BDSM scene, even while acknowledging just how universal its themes and characters are. Theoretically, you could change the setting to a Star Trek convention or a comic con and have it work very well, with the same us-versus-them mentality, the same misunderstandings, and the same protective sort of clique-ness. However, there are some deeper insights into love, friendship, and the whole power dynamic that are unique to the scene, and which really provide the story's charm.
Whether you're whips and chains and collars are second-nature to you, or you have never imagined them on anything other than the neighbour's dog, this is a mystery that's worth a read. Play along and solve the case, or just enjoy the journey . . . it's up to you.
About the Author
Laura Antoniou has over 20 years of experience teaching, speaking to, and occasionally skewering the alt-sex communities around the world. She has also edited the groundbreaking Leatherwomen anthologies and writes scholarly work on BDSM. Her work has been translated into Spanish, German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Korean. She lives in New York City. She is the best-selling author of the classic BDSM series, THE MARKETPLACE, which has sold more than 400,000 copies and been translated into 5 languages.
(as posted by Sally on Goodreads)