by Logan Black
In Logan Black´s satisfying debut novel, Danny Diamond is a private dick who can´t seem to keep it in his pants.
We get introduced to him right away at the top of The Money Shot: he´s having rough sex with Mrs. Bowman. She´s hoping that her carnality will convince Danny to ask her to divorce her husband, who happens to also be his partner at the detective agency. But his libidinous entanglements don´t end there: when he gets to work later that day, Danny also flirts with his young and slightly androgynous secretary Eileen, before entering this office and begin salivating over his new client, the elegant, exotic, and rich Patricia Carlisle. Welcome to Los Angeles, circa 1947.
Subtitled "an erotic mystery", The Money Shot delivers a strong double-shot of both. The prose evokes the jaded perspective found in a lot of pulp fiction, particularly Ross Macdonald with James M. Cain. Black´s protoganist joins a lineage that includes Mike Hammer and Philip Marlowe: men who are just worn-out by the corruption of the world, yet who desperately retain their own sort of code, a stubborn determination to keep their word and get to the truth. Readers not as familiar with early crime fiction will still find a lot to enjoy here in the wisecracking, noirish vibe. In addition to crackling dialogue, Black embroiders his mystery with generous amounts of whiskey, fist fights, and sex.
Especially the sex. All kinds of sex. Fans of the early American crime fiction published after World War II knows that the pulps can be quite lurid, as these stories portray a cynical worldview where cops are crooked and every woman is a femme fatale. In those books, authors implied the sex, keeping the animal lust on a short leash. Contemporary writer Logan Black, however, has no such restraints on being explicit, and in The Money Shot, readers of erotica will be happy to know that he turns up the heat.
Not that erotica needs much justification, but in this novel the sex scenes make sense with the plot. Patrica needs Danny to help her get out of a blackmailing scheme, one that involves compromising photographs from a sleazy pornography operation. But soon, Danny´s partner Bowman gets taken off the board, and too much of the evidence leads back to his partner. Danny now has a personal stake in clearing his name, and also finds himself motivated by the sex he´s sharing with his new client. Has Danny become a romantic? Or is there more to this case than meets the eye?
To summarize much more of The Money Shot would give away the pleasure of its twists and turns, which the author guides the reader through masterfully. The variety of the sex scenes--between which characters, and what they do--also continues throughout the book, with a couple of highly eroticized climaxes which give the book its title.
There seems to be at least one other Danny Diamond erotic mystery in the works. Until Logan Black releases it, folks can enjoy the delightfully seedy underworld of this one.