Even while Ed Wood was scraping to get together the resources necessary to make his infamous films (and earning an underserved reputation as the worst director of all time), he was also making side money by writing literally hundreds of pulp and "adult" novels. Killer in Drag, considered to be his signature novel, was written when Wood was on the verge of sinking into his final alcoholic decline. It deals with Wood's favorite theme -- a strong, heterosexual man who enjoys dressing up as a woman. In this case, Glen is also Glenda. Hoping to raise the money for a sex change operation, Glen works as a contract killer for "the syndicate." However, in one of the less convuluted plot twists of the book, Glen is then unjustly accused of the one murder he didn't commit. Glen is forced to go on the run. Ending up in a backwater town, Glen also ends up purchasing a used carnival and finding himself the prey of two corrupt cops. Even as Glen struggles to keep Glenda from taking over his own personality, he finds time to pursue a romance with an understanding prostitute and to bond with an alcoholic drag queen. This is the type of plot that only Ed Wood could come up with and if you're a fan of the man's films, you'll find a lot to enjoy in this book. Is the book trash? You bet. Is it even a good book? Um...no, not really. But it is a lot of fun for Wood devotees who, by this point, should know what to expect.
It should also be pointed out that this book proves that, even if he wasn't talented, Ed Wood still doesn't deserve to be known as the worst director or writer ever to work in Hollywood. While the dialouge in this book (and his films) is often flat and full of terrible jokes, is it really any worse than that to be found in Titanic or Star Wars: Episode 1 or the collected works of Bret Easton Ellis? What comes through, most sadly, in this book is a sense of overwhelming sincerity. No matter how ludicrous the plot, its obvious that Wood is attempting to tell a touching story that, underneath the pulp stylings, contains a plea for tolerance for men (like Wood himself) who enjoyed wearing women's clothing. There's a niave quality to the book's attempt to be hard-bioled pulp that is almost child-like and, in a way, almost endearing. And, unlike several other writers, Wood actually does manage to pull off one compelling chapter in which the drag queen Shrilee opens up to Glen about his tragic past and the persecution he's suffered as a result of his preference. Its a short chapter but well written and for a few pages, Wood is obviously writing from his soul. No, it doesn't mean that Wood was actually a brilliant talent waiting to be discovered. But it does show that Wood did possess an actual sensitivity and compassion for his subjects -- no matter how ludicrous a plot he may have constructed to showcase that sensitivity. It also shows that Wood, no matter how untalented a dreamer he may have been, deserves more than to be simply laughed off as "the worst writer/director of all time."