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The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies: A Novel Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
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Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on December 7, 2013
 

Author: Raymond Benson

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1608091015

ISBN-13: 978-1608091010




Author: Raymond Benson

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1608091015

ISBN-13: 978-1608091010



The story of Judy Cooper A.K.A. Judy Talbot A.K.A. The Black Stiletto began in 2011 with the publication of her first adventures in Raymond Benson's The Black Stiletto. In that book, the masked vigilante started fighting crime in the streets of New York in 1958 and continued her adventures in 1959 and 1960 in two sequels, The Black Stiletto: Black and White (2012) and The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes (2013).

Told in alternating first person narratives, the story began when Martin Talbot, son of Judy, discovered a cache of his mother's diaries which recounted how Judy Cooper left an abusive home in West Texas, came to New York where she learned fighting skills, discovered she had enhanced senses, and ultimately donned a mask and costume to battle street thugs, spies, and various and sundry criminals.

Her son's story, set in the present, is woven into the account as he learns of his mother's past even as the elderly Judy Talbot declines with Alzheimer's disease in a nursing home, unable to communicate or understand much of the world around her. Martin is forced to be the silent guardian of his mother's past which comes back to haunt her and her son with ongoing mysteries never quite resolved in any of the volumes published so far.

Now, The Black Stiletto: Secrets and Lies picks up the saga in 1961 when things are not going well for the masked vigilante. When she dons her costume, she doesn't accomplish much except cause near fatal accidents which sets the entire NYPD against her. Her personal life is virtually non-existent until she takes a trip to Las Angeles where she meets a charming warehouse manager, or so she thinks, named Leo Kelly. When things get too hot in New York, he's the one who opens doors for her in California and suddenly Judy Cooper and the Black Stiletto are now West Coast based and things really heat up.

Secrets and Lies is clearly no stand-alone book, as too many threads woven into the saga need to be understood to get into the first half of the book. All along, for example, it's clear one mystery is just who Martin Talbot's unknown father is. It seems Martin's daughter Gina, herself a gifted martial-artist, is being groomed to be her grandmother's successor. So much of the narrative carries us along closer to the resolutions of all these mysteries apparently to be revealed in the final volume later in 2014.

So Secrets and Lies is for those who have been keeping up with the story, even if much of the novel is clearly transitional material setting us up for the grand finale. The first half of the book is sometimes puzzling as the Black Stiletto in New York seems to run around with no apparent purpose other than occasionally knocking around small-time crooks. She needed fresh air, a fresh setting, and so did we, the readers. We got all that and more when she relocated to LA, including new teasers and a cliffhanger to ensure we'll be eagerly awaiting volume five. Start from the beginning and you too will be carried along by the currents of the dual stories of the Talbot family.


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