Give My Secrets Back: An Alison Kaine Mystery Paperback – 1 Apr 1995
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Great addition to the series. I would recommend you buy all of them in one go as you'll want to pick up the next in series as soon as you turn the last page.
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vibrant lesbian community in Denver that it described, including both its warmth and its
occasional unkindness. Great characters, fun parties. I wish she'd kept writing and getting published.
Michelle is totally disapproving of Alison's girlfriend Stacy, and she's super down on BDSM as "violence against women", regardless of its consensual nature, so it's a real embarrassment for Alison when she and Stacy manage to set Alison's bedroom on fire doing a scene involving a bit of fire play. It wasn't the kink that was at fault, just a normal candle that anyone might have lit for lovemaking atmosphere catches the drapes. However, since Alison is chained in a doorway, she not only can't respond to the fire, but she's stuck there as Stacy is trying to smother the flames and Michelle comes charging in. This scene does a good job of showing some of what goes on inside a sub's headspace in a scene, but it throws the friction caused by Michelle's disapproval into the foreground in a big way. Now the bedroom is going to have to be cleaned and repainted. Alison is allergic to paint fumes.
Michelle and Alison end up going together to Tam's house, and discover the writer dead in her bathtub, head underwater, with a vibrator attached to an extension cord submerged in the bath. Obviously, it was an electrifying experience, and police rule it an accident. Michelle happens to have been named executrix in Tam's will, so now she's got to inventory, clean the place up, and get the contents to Tam's sister and niece. This is all in good time for Alison to temporarily move into Tam's house to help with the sorting while Michelle gets her room repainted.
Alison, suspicious cop that she is, thinks Tam's death was murder. And Michelle leans on Alison to help track down Tam's sister, for whom she has only a first name, and niece. We get a tour of the "old time lesbian community" as Alison tries contacting folks who knew Tam and her sister Back When.
Allen isn't afraid to show the warts of Family; she points out the hypocrisy of professing undying support for members of the community, then sniping (and worse) at those whose take on lesbianism may be a little different. I appreciated the historical perspective of these characters' formative years as lesbians.
I particularly liked how, even though Alison's a cop, and there's a murder to be solved, it's not the traditional Delafield template of homicide detective unravels mystery; instead, Alison's whole circle of friends gets involved.
My only complaint is about the "fire scene" early on in the book. Alison has some sort of out-of-body vision, or channeling experience. To me, it was out of character, and distracted from the otherwise nicely constructed scene. If it was only Alison fantasizing, that should have been made more clear. Other than that, _Give My Secrets Back_ gets a well-deserved A-plus.
Um, a lot. This book cycled through a dull mystery to stop in "it was hard to be a lesbian when WE were young" and totally died toward the end during the *spoilers* attempted suicide *spoilers* routine.
It's a mystery to me that this book got published at all.